The mind is impacted by three gunas, or energetic qualities: sattva, rajas and tamas. By understanding how to work with these three energies we begin to understand how to work with our minds and reach our full potential.
Sattva is the energy that creates a clear, focused and stable state of mind. When this guna is predominate we are able to see reality as it is. There is a desire to serve others, without the need to be recognized and applauded for one’s views. This quality is nourished by simple-foods, service to others, compassion and kindness.
Rajas is the state of mind that is active, wants to achieve and get things done. Sometimes we have clarity, but at other times our vision is distorted by our personal agenda. In the moments when we no longer have clarity we may make decisions that do not benefit ourselves or those around us. This quality is nourished by spicy foods, alcohol, marijuana, yearning for ambition and recognition.
Tamas is the state of mind that is dull. This is when we blame others for our troubles and have difficulty seeing that we even have trouble. We cannot see reality clearly. We have difficulty making change or getting going. Everything seems hopeless and pointless. This quality is nourished by old, cold foods, drugs, pornography, and violent films.
Of course these are not the only three energies. If we combine these three energies with the doshas of Ayurveda (vata, pitta and kapha) we begin to have a much clearer picture of who we are and what we can potentially achieve.
SATTVIC VATA INDIVIDUALS. When Sattva predominates these individuals are inspired & free. They have immense creativity and vitality. They are open-minded, communicators who are quick to understand. While they may not stay on any task too long, they are always receptive, sensitive, and artistic. They are best described as HAPPY.
RAJASIC VATA INDIVIDUALS. When a Vata person becomes rajasic they begin to feel physically cold. Fearful and anxious, their behavior becomes erratic and difficult to contain. They may have bursts of energy, but are then depleted. They will be active, always doing things and staying busy. As rajas increases they are prone to distraction, shame, and become extremely talkative. They may become noisy and dramatic. They are best described as RESTLESS.
TAMASIC VATA INDIVIDUALS. When a Vata person becomes tamasic they begin to operate our of a space of fearful. They will becomes extremely erratic, and feel intense shame. These individuals are prone to sexual perversions and are easily addicted as they seek to escape the chaotic minds in which they live. As tamas increases they are prone to havoc, hurt, and may engage in cutting and other forms of self-harm. At their lowest point they are suicidal.
SATTVIC PITTA INDIVIDUALS. When a Pitta person is dominated with sattvic energy they are courageous, and unafraid to do the right thing. They will proceed with warmth and compassion. These individuals are natural leaders, who are extremely intelligent, disciplined, and perceptive. They have a friendly nature and a strong will. They are best described as JOYOUS.
RAJASIC PITTA INDIVIDUALS. When a Pitta person is dominated by rajasic energy they are angry and aggressive. If they cannot critique and evaluate others, they will be critical of themselves. Their controlling and judgmental nature makes them difficult to be around. They see themselves as "being right" and have challenges seeing other people's point of view. They want to fix systems and people. As rajas increases they increasingly blame others and allow their passion to drive themselves and others mad. They are best described as IRRITABLE.
TAMASIC PITTA. When a Pitta person is dominated by tamasic energy they begin to feel violent and destructive. They may be vile, harming of others, vindictive, and hostile. Tamasic pitta people make excellent criminal leaders as they want to lead others and are not afraid to hurt other people to get what they want. Hatefulness and revenge may overtake them. At their lowest point they are homicidal.
SATTVIC KAPHA INDIVIDUALS. Individuals who are Kapha with a sattvic energy are full of love. They are loyal, supportive, and patient. They are pleasant to be around as they are steady, comforting, and extremely giving. These individuals are forgiving, caring, and willing to be a provider for those who need it. They are best described as FREE.
RAJASIC KAPHA INDIVIDUALS. When a Kapha person becomes rajasic their kind disposition gives way to possessiveness and greed. They become exceptionally materialistic; they love luxury but not the hard work that brings it. As rajas increases they become excessively attached (and even obsessed) with people, places and things. They may be hoarders or emotionally manipulative through wealth. They will become co-dependent and have difficulty seeing their worth without others. They are best described as DISCONTENT.
TAMASIC KAPHA INDIVIDUALS. When a kapha person becomes tamasic inertia and stagnation take hold. They may become depressed and insensitive to their own suffering. There will be no effort to change and they will not be able to see that change is needed. Hoarding may take over and become an obstruction in their life. They have memory of slights and abuses that inhibit them from seeing the love all around them. They have a tendency to be obese, and have low level addictions (to sugar in particular). At their lowest point they commit suicide through neglect.
Well then!! Obviously the tamasic state creates a whole bunch of suffering for all of us!! Luckily, this isn't our personality, it is merely a transient form of energy that we are experiencing. We have a choice. We can continue to cultivate our current energetic state f it is satisfactory or we can actively cultivate a new energetic state.
Tamasic people need to cultivate Rajas first. The Tamasic state has such low energy that it can be difficult to get going or to make positive change. Indeed, in the Tamasic state one will find things like gardening, calmly connecting with others and meditation to be exceedingly tedious. Indeed, a true Tamasic person would rather engage in self injury than settle into a peaceful state. If you find peace and ease to be annoying, you are probably in a Tamasic state. The first step is to cultivate Rajas.
Rajas has the high energy needed to pull individuals out of tamas. Rajas is cultivated by eating fresh, spicy foods. Begin avoiding meat and add a green juice to your morning routine. Drink a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning. At work, contribute good, consistent work. Put effort into finding the thing that you want to contribute to the world. After work, take a vigorous walk, go to the gym or take a power yoga class. This will boost your energy. After dinner be sure to take in a film with lots of action or listen to music. Add triphala to your after dinner routine. Over a few months you will begin to feel some high energy. Remember that rajas energy is erratic (light on- light off) so your energy will not be consistent. At this time begin to cultivate sattva.
Sattva is the energy you need to pull out your best qualities. In the morning get up with gratitude for your day. Spend a few minutes or more in meditation. Have a vegetarian breakfast that will sustain you for your service. On the way to work appreciate the plants and sky. At work seek wisdom and engage in creativity. Spend time gardening, hiking, kayaking, meditating, chanting, and participating in your spiritual community. Eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. Remove all stimulants from your diet: coffee and alcohol. A calm hatha yoga practice with breathing practices and meditation will help you sustain even energy that you can use to transform the world around you. Avoid gossip and scandal mongering; instead focus on saying words that transform and inspire those around you. Encourage yourself and others. Find ways to give and cultivate selfless service.
You can easily achieve peace. Actually, it won't be easy. It will, however, be totally worth it. The world needs your energy, your gifts, your time. These are best found and offered in a sattvic state. Remove your bad habits one by one. Substitute positive habits for negative ones. Instead of saying " _uck that driver cut me off!" Substitute "That is an unwise driving move." Do not loose your peace of mind and do not give it away. You are a gift unparalleled; a diamond in the rough that is ready to be burnished with the discipline of yoga.