According to Yoga philosophy, at the beginning of time there was only the void. The void was a space of nothingness, utter peacefulness. This void is referred to as Purusha – all-pervading consciousness.
Prakriti is the counterpart of Purusha – it represents form, all that is manifest in the world. It is feminine in nature and is comprised of the maha gunas or three great qualities. The Maha Gunas pervade all living things. They are particularly present in our mind.
1. Rajas – action, restlessness, movement, energy
2. Tamas – inertia, inaction, lethargy, stuckness
3. Sattva – lightness, purity, peacefulness, clarity, balance
If you imagine a lotus blossom, the roots stuck in the mud would represent tamas. The stem growing and reaching upward shows rajas. The beautiful blossom exemplifies sattva.
How does stress affect your mind?
Are you more Rajasic – do you crave stimulation? Sweets, coffee, alcohol, looking for distraction…
Or more Tamasic – do you feel dull, sluggish, lethargic? The desire to just veg out on the couch and do nothing.
The tree goes through all the phases of the summer, the spring, the fall, and the winter. It never once says “make me young again” or “give me more leaves”. The trees continually show us how lovely it is to let things go. That is the act of Sattva.
Action that is virtuous, thought through, free from attachment, and without craving for results is considered Sattvic; Action that is driven purely by craving for pleasure, selfishness, and agitation is Rajasic; Action that is undertaken because of delusion, disregarding consequences, without considering loss or injury to others or self, is called Tamasic. — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, verses 23–25
Five Ways To Cultivate Sattva:
1. Practice Sleep Hygiene – rise and set with the sun. Practice going to bed by 10pm and waking with sunrise.
2. Time in Nature – enjoy a daily ritual of being alone in nature.
3. Mindful Awareness – be mindful of what you take in through the 5 senses. The food, the music, the TV shows, etc will all influence the quality of your mind. Pay attention and begin to bring in more things with a Sattvic nature.
4. Meditate – establish a regular meditation practice.
5. Chant – chanting mantra cultivates an inner sweetness. Try the simple mantra – So Hum (I am)
Know that like increases like and discover what activities bring more Sattvic presence to your mind and which activities increase Tamasic and Rajasic states. As this awareness grows, your ability to remain in balance will grow as well.
All of spiritual life is grounded in transforming tamas, balancing rajas, and developing sattva.
I will leave you with these words from John O’Donohue:
As stillness in stone to silence is wed, May solitude foster your truth in word.
As a river flows in ideal sequence, May your soul reveal where time is presence.
As the moon absolves the dark of distance, May your style of thought bridge the indifference.
As the breath of light awakens color, May the dawn anoint your eyes with wonder.
As spring rain softens the earth with surprise, May your winter places be kissed by light.
As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance, May the grace of change bring you elegance.
As clay anchors a tree in light and wind, May your outer life grow from peace within.
As twilight pervades the belief of night, May beauty sleep lightly within your heart.
“For Beauty” by John O’Donohue To Bless the Space Between Us