As our nation begins to re-open its doors, and we face once again another shift and transition, it is completely normal to feel uneasy. What was normal before, is not now. And what was our “new normal” is now no longer. Could it even be possible that within several months of our new normal we have yet another level of new?
If you are feeling anxious or nervous about the upcoming transition of our nation and states re-opening, you are not alone.
The past several months have been filled with movement, change, and uncertainty. This has disrupted even the most seasoned, skilled, and balanced minds. It’s likely that at some point during this pandemic—and the continuation of this pandemic—that you have experienced some rajas in the mind (state of energy, action, change, and turbulence) and or some tamas in the mind (energy or quality of dullness, darkness, inertia, heaviness, veiling or obstruction). Regardless, of how you have felt, or how you are currently feeling, it’s important to recognize that you have the ability to balance your consciousness.
We live with a somewhat dualistic mindset filled with the great forces of life and death – creation and destruction. We often lack in seeing the subtle forces hidden in the world around us. Balance among the three Maha Guna’s (qualities of the mind) sattva, rajas, and tamas is essential for our health and happiness. Awareness surrounding these subtle forces, how they exist, and how to work with them (not only in the world but also in our own psyche) can be such a powerful tool to support the healing process, balanced well-being, and the journey to intentional, conscious living.
The higher or spiritual potential. It is the quality of intelligence, virtue, and goodness. Sattva is the finest of the gunas of the mind. Sattva creates harmony, balance, and stability. It is related to our waking state of consciousness. It is light, not heavy, and luminous in nature. It has an inward and upward movement that brings about the awakening of the soul. A sattvic state permits right thinking, clear thinking, logical thinking, the capability of visualizing clearly, the ability to offer and do good deeds, as well as right-action, or the act of acting properly without violating the laws of nature. It is the principle of clarity, wideness, and peace. The force of love that unites all things.
The intermediate or life potential. Rajas is the quality of change, activity, and turbulence. It is the most active of the gunas of the mind. Associated with motion and stimulation, rajas introduces disequilibrium that upsets an existing balance. Rajas is motivated in its action, ever seeking a goal or an end that gives it power. Rajas enables us to realize dreams, to be motivated, and to move into action. However, rajas possesses outward motion and causes self-seeking action that often leads to fragmentation and disintegration. Relatable to the force of passion, which in the short-term, is stimulating and provides pleasure, but in the long-term, can create imbalance quickly resulting in pain and suffering.
The lower or material potential. Is the quality of dullness, darkness, and inertia. Tamas is clouded perception and heaviness. It is the principle of materiality or unconsciousness. It is veiling and obstructing in its action. It functions as the force of gravity that retards things and holds them in specifically limited forms. In regards to universal nature, tamas relates to destruction. Tamas possesses a downward motion that causes decay and disintegration. It brings about ignorance and delusion in the mind, promotes insensitivity, sleep, and loss of awareness.
Again, through the basic understanding of these three Maha Gunas (supreme qualities of the mind), or these most subtle qualities found in nature, we can begin to release the bondage to what might be deemed the external world. We can work to understand our mental and spiritual nature, how it functions, and how to nurture harmony and consciousness. This is not only relatable in times of heightened stress, but yet in our quest to heal trauma, and in times where we need to nurture more resiliency.
Our inherent human desire is to be more sattvic in nature (conscious, creative, peaceful, and happy). However, generally speaking, many of us unintentionally live unconscious lives. We have been asked most recently to become more conscious of our actions and how we care and protect ourselves, others, and our Mother Earth. This current conscious shift doesn’t change the weight we may hold from past experiences, traumas, and sensory stimulation or overload. Not to mention we may be struggling with burnout, alienation from our natural surroundings, unsupportive or stressful relationships, and lack of education or resistance to proper nutritional practices.
Therefore we can increase the sattvic qualities in our daily lives by making more conscious choices in terms of committing to mental and emotional healing, through regulation of sensory input, by adopting healthier relationships, and by honoring sacred self-care and Ayurvedic nutrition. Below are a few simple tips to inspire more sattvic (conscious) living.
REGULATE SENSORY INPUT
Our senses are the gateway between the external world and our minds. What we intake through our senses: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin regulates the quality and state of our minds. We have the ability to choose what we take in, maybe not all of it, but we can protect a significant amount of what comes in through our senses. Intention to regulate sensory input alone can be beneficial to alter our minds and uplift our consciousness.
For example, instead of staying up late watching a scary movie, the news, or our latest Netflix binge, we could make the choice to watch an educational nature documentary, or even better simply turn the tv off and enjoy getting the extra zzz’s for rejuvenation and digestion of our daily required sensory intake.
HONOR SACRED SELF-CARE
When we honor and prioritize self-care practices like asana, pranayama, intentional movement, time spent in nature, and meditation, we nurture sattvic qualities in the mind (clarity, calmness, peacefulness, balance, and harmony). Dinacharya or daily routine, aka. Ayurvedic self-care practices, help to nurture our senses, consciousness, and resiliency.
Start today with a daily tongue cleaning practice. Use a tongue cleaner first thing, before brushing your teeth. The tongue scraper should be stainless steel or copper. Do not use toothpaste for this. Do this prior to anything else. Stimulate your digestion and remove any undigested toxic residue (from nutrients, thoughts, feelings, emotions) that accumulate on the tongue.
Include more sattvic or pranic (life-energy) rich foods into your daily nutritional regimen. Sattvic foods are fresh, pure, and vibrant. Many sattvic foods are sweet by nature and thus have a rejuvenating effect on the body and a calming effect on the mind. Sattvic foods generally grow above the ground in the presence of sunlight, making them lighter in nature. The body can easily digest sattvic foods, leading to higher ojas (essential energy) production and harmony in the mind.
Examples of sattvic foods: most fresh fruit and vegetables (those free from pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives); freshly prepared grains; many types of beans including mung, black, and fava; lentils; cow’s milk; fresh yogurt; ghee; honey; sesame and sunflower seeds; cashews, almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts.
Lastly, as our national reopens, boosting your immune system through Ayurveda is more important than ever. Read my blog post on how to BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY THROUGH AYURVEDA.