Have you had a hard time shutting off your mind?
I know I have. I’ve been consumed with racing thoughts about how to do the right thing, how to be better, and how to make a difference. And then, my mind crashes into feeling stuck, depressed and wanting to give up.
Here’s the deal, a mind that is frantic won’t produce productive action, nor will a mind mired in depression.
Only a calm, clear and illuminated mind leads to empathy, compassion and positive action for change with minimal suffering.
Believe it or not, according to Ayurveda, a calm, clear and illuminated mind is your natural state and mine. Sounds good doesn’t it… and impossible?!
The 3 Maha Gunas
The state of natural balance of the mind is called sattva. Kinetic energy of the mind is called rajas, and energy of inertia is called tamas. Ayurveda calls these the Maha Gunas or Great Qualities. They are known as the qualities of the mind, but they are also the 3 qualities that rule nature.
Here are some examples of how they work:
- A leaf starts out as a bud that grows, comes into full expression, and then turns color and drops to the ground.
- You start to move in the morning, sustain your activity during the day and then wind down for sleep at night.
- Your nervous system activates when there’s a threat or something that needs to get done, and then relaxes after the threat has passed, allowing you to return to a natural state of balance.
The takeaway is, although our natural state of mind is pure, we wouldn’t get anything done without rajas and tamas. We need all 3 Maha Gunas to fully experience life.
What’s important is to not let rajas or tamas take over the mind, completely shrouding sattva. When that happens we experience and cause suffering for ourselves and others. You have the power to lessen your cycle of suffering, and the suffering of others by cultivating an awareness of the 3 Maha Gunas, how they work and how to balance them.
Rajas represents kinetic energy, creativity and change. It is the energy that helps us move toward our goals, and supports action that brings about change.
Problems arise when rajas builds on itself unchecked. Too much hyperactivity, work, movement and hyperfocus eventually leads to the opposite energy of tamas.
Tamas is the energy of inertia, rest, stuckness and destruction.
If you’ve felt like giving up, like nothing you do matters or like burying your head in the sand to avoid difficult situations and conversations, this is tamas at work in your mind. Tamas leads to feelings of depression, brain fog and stagnation.
Sattva is sustaining, illuminating, harmonious and clear. It’s an energy that connects me to who I really am, and cultivates compassion and empathy for self and others. In my experience, my actions have been much more effective when taken from the root of a clear mind than when taken from a place of rajas or tamas in the mind.
As I’ve said over and over, and will continue to say: Self awareness is the most powerful quality you can cultivate in your life. When you become aware of rajasic or tamasic energy negatively affecting your mind, you can then incorporate opposite foods and activities help you cultivate sattva.
How to Balance the Qualities of the Mind
If you find yourself in overdrive, overworking, exhausted and frantic try this:
- Avoid hot, spicy, salty and sour foods.
- Avoid stimulating foods and activities like caffeine, working too much, traveling too much and partying too much.
- Eat foods with sweet taste (carrots, rice, fruits and root veggies).
- Eat freshly prepared whole foods.
- Slow down.
- Spend time in nature and with loved ones.
If you find yourself feeling depressed, lethargic, powerless and stuck try this:
- Avoid oversleeping. Set an alarm and wake up early!
- Avoid junk food, old food, frozen food, sugar, deep fried food and other heavy foods.
- Avoid overconsumption of alcohol, food, TV and social media.
- Enjoy light, vegetarian and fresh foods.
- Spend time moving out in nature and practicing activities that uplift you.
Cultivating sattva in the mind naturally balances rajas and tamas so you can apply this list to the above lists as well:
- Practice yoga, meditation, gratitude and prayer.
- Spend time in nature – mindfully.
- Eat fresh, in-season, local, organic, whole foods.
- Prepare and eat your food lovingly and mindfully.
- Practice being a space for powerful listening (that means that you are fully present with the person you are listening to) and communication (that means everyone leaves the conversation empowered).
May this knowledge be of service to you in cultivating empathy, compassion, love and forgiveness for yourself and others. May we awaken to the light of our true nature. May we cherish and protect the lives of Black, Indigenous and People of Color everywhere. Namaste.
If you want to learn more about how to cultivate a calm, clear, illuminated, and compassionate mind click here to learn about my mindset coaching programs.
Want to have a powerful conversation about current events and what’s on your mind? email me.