And a peek into why we do the things that we know we shouldn’t
Ayurveda translates to the science or knowledge of life. I love how the more I learn the more I am able to to take charge of my health (and my life decisions and purpose).
“Ayurveda puts the responsibility for your health in your hands” – Anjum Anand.
Another stop along my Ayurvedic journey, helping me to be aware of and take control of my habits and decisions, are the Gunas. The Gunas are the qualities of the mind. They are light and dark. They are positive and negative. They can elevate and energize you or make you feel heavy and lethargic.
This post scratches the surface (and over simplifies) how our minds work when it comes to our tendencies.
The Gunas are to the mind what the Doshas are to the physical body. There are 3 doshas – Pitta, Kapha and Vata – we have characteristics of each dosha with one being dominate that make up our physical selves. The same principle applies to the Gunas; there are 3 and one is usually more dominate (more on the Doshas another time).
‘bad’ or ‘good’? Neither, ‘it is what it is’
I’m not a fan of labels of any sorts including calling out behaviors as good or bad. But, I have habits and make decisions that are not serving me or my goals. These are the things where I think to myself “I really shouldn’t” or “why did I do that”? and even “why didn’t I do that”? In Ayurveda the Gunas govern these qualities or essence of the mind.
There are 3 Gunas and they are constantly shape-shifting and challenging us with over-activity or slothdom. The ultimate goal is being in a balanced or sattvic state.
- Rajas (passion) – the quality of activity, change and action; causes imbalance. In balance this is what we need to help us reach our goals and move forward. When out of balance I am very FOMO, over committed and are running around to excess.
- Tamas (ignorance) – the quality of apathy, inactivity and lethargy; creates inertia. This is my stuck mentality – I already blew my diet/workout/opportunity today and I’m too ______ anyway so why bother?
- Sattva (balance) – the quality of virtue, intelligence, happiness and contentment; creates harmony and inner stability. When everything is flowing – I’m doing my daily routines, I’m productive and making choices that get me where I want to be.
I am learning to pay attention to what’s driving my choices and decisions – recognizing when I’m feeling tired or discouraged gives me an opportunity to pause and ask myself what is really going on and do I really want – to skip my hike/workout/that opportunity or do I really want that bowl of vegan mint chip ice-cream? It’s also when I’m feeling so pumped I’m going for a second 8 mile hike or over-committing myself saying yes to literally everything. This recognition lets my intellect kick in and be part of the conversation vs letting my senses run wild.
We need all 3 of these qualities in our minds. Being aware of these qualities helps me stay on track and gets me back on track when I veer off. Because let’s face it balance also includes rest days and vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream!
..“seeking to fulfill desires is different than indulging oneself from a place of celebration, where you enjoy the chocolate as an expression of life rather than eat it because you think it will fill a deep need that is wanting.”Dipika Delmenico, The Ayurvedic Woman
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Ayurveda’s Secrets for Breaking Bad Habits
The Ayurvedic Woman Podcast, What is the nature of dis-ease?
Dr.Satyavani Gayatri, Satyvani Rising