THE 3 GUNAS
July 13, 2017
According to the ayurveda, Gunas are the most subtle qualities of Nature that underlie matter, life and mind. They are the energies through which not only the surface mind, but our deeper consciousness functions.
Everything in the entire universe or cosmos consists of a combination of these three Gunas. We too are not exempt from that. We all have Gunas in varying degrees and there is an interaction between all three of them.
These Gunas are said to be the main powers of the cosmos which determine our spiritual growth as well. Yes, we humans can consciously alter the levels of the Gunas in our bodies, as well as our minds. One cannot remove or add a Guna, but actions can be taken to increase or decrease it. This can happen through our lifestyle, our activities as well as our thoughts. These Gunas have a deep connection with our humors or Doshas, and together they determine our mental and spiritual nature.
The human mind is very complex. The psychological qualities of our mind are pretty unstable - which means that they can switch between the different Gunas according to the situation we're in. But yes, there will be a predominant Guna in everyone's mind which is the lens through which we see the world, and which also determines what type of a person we eventually become. That is why no two people are the same or even think alike. The way we all perceive situations is very different. There is a way one reacts to a certain situation – it could either be Satvik, Rajasic or Tamasic.
The Gunas of the mind also get attached to the ego of the person. While Sattva has a calming and harmonious effect on the body and mind, excessive Rajas and Tamas could lead to disturbances of various kinds. But worry not! The power is in our hands. We can make choices through what we eat and what we do, which can influence the Gunas - allowing whichever Guna we want, to dominate our mind and our thoughts.
State of consciousness: Awake
Rajas: quality of change, activity, and turbulence
Functions: Rajas is motivated in its action, ever seeking a goal
Time: Sunrise and sunset
State of consciousness: Dream
Tamas: quality of dullness, darkness, and inertia
Functions: It functions as the force of gravity that retards things and holds them in specific limited forms.
State of consciousness: Deep sleep
Everything in nature has these three Gunas - so the food we eat, or the thoughts we have can aggravate or increase a particular Guna to a great extent.
Foods and Medicines are satvic, rajasic or tamasic or a combination of these gunas. People equally can be more or less dominated by one of the three gunas and an important way to regulate these gunas in body and mind is through ayurvedic cooking :
Are fresh, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, sweet and tasty.
Give the necessary energy to the body without taxing it.
The foundation of higher states of consciousness.
Examples : juicy fruits, fresh vegetables that are easily digestible, fresh milk and butter, whole soaked or also sprouted beans, grains and nuts, many herbs and spices in the right combinations with other foods,…
Are bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot and dry.
Increase the speed and excitement of the human organism.
The foundation of motion, activity and pain.
Examples: sattvic foods that have been fried in oil or cooked too much or eaten in excess, specific foods and spices that are strongly exciting.
Are dry, old, decaying, distasteful and/or unpalatable.
Consume a large amount of energy while being digested.
The foundation of ignorance, doubt, pessimism, …
Examples: foods that have been strongly processed, canned or frozen and/or are old, stale or incompatible with each other - meat, fish, eggs and liquor are especially tamasic.
Saints and seers can survive easily on satvic foods alone. Householders that live in the world and have to keep pace with its' changes also need rajasic energy. They ought to keep a balance between the satvic and rajasic foods and try to avoid tamasic foods as much as possible.
By applying the Six Dimensional Model, a person becomes aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension and how they contribute to healthy living. This holistic model explains:
- How a person contributes to their environment and community, and how to build better living spaces and social networks
- The enrichment of life through work, and its interconnectedness to living and playing
- The development of belief systems, values, and creating a world-view
- The benefits of regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, strength and vitality as well as personal responsibility,self-care and when to seek medical attention
- Self-esteem, self-control, and determination as a sense of direction
- Creative and stimulating mental activities, and sharing your gifts with others
Applying a wellness approach can be useful in nearly every human endeavor. As a pathway to optimal living, wellness is being applied to related fields, such as health promotion and holistic health, and has seen a growth in "helping professions" including counseling and medical arts and practices. The National Wellness Institute devised three questions that can help persons and organizations assess the degree to which wellness is incorporated into a particular approach or program:
- Does this help people achieve their full potential?
- Does this recognize and address the whole person(multi-dimensional approach)?
- Does this affirm and mobilize peoples' positive qualitiesand strengths?