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myles golden
June 4, 2011

Gunas

The Energy Beneath it All

Ever feel like there is an external force beyond your control governing your entire Being?  In yoga philosophy all material nature is believed to possess three types of underlying energy, or attitudes, called gunas.  As we delve deeper into this practice of union, we become more in tune with the subtleties that influence our actions, feelings, and thoughts.  By paying close attention to this interplay of energy in our lives, we gain a sense of awareness that leads to more clarity and growth. 

Tamas

When tamas is most dominant in our lives we tend to feel sluggish, lazy, gloomy and dull.  Tamasic energy can be found in alcohol, tobacco, and foods that are stale, over-processed and heavy.  When the mind is full of pessimism, negativity, fear and doubt, it is said that the mind is full of the tamas guna.  If we don’t eradicate these qualities within it can lead to a life of carelessness, ignorance, and delusion.   

Rajas

This type of energy is selfish, fiery, passionate, and active.  It is associated with foods that are hot, spicy, and salty – stimulants and irritants.  When rajas rules it manifests as insatiable desire, over-work and a constant desire for material possessions.  A person ruled by rajastic energy is restless, greedy, unsatisfied, and competitive.

Sattva

Sattvic energy is pure energy; it is calm, peaceful and natural.  Individuals who exude this type of energy are compassionate, centered beings who can maintain a prolonged peaceful state; they are full of knowledge and happiness but they are also extremely humble.  Foods that carry this type of energy are nourishing and easily digestible:  Nuts, fruits, vegetables, water, juice and yogurt. 

How do we conquer the gunas?

Through the process of meditation, spiritual work and yoga we can transcend the rollercoaster of the gunas and instead elevate sattva while eradicating tamas and rajas.  Practice the following and see if you notice a difference: 

  • Be serene in success or failure
  • See everyone as your equal
  • Practice humbleness when someone praises you
  • Be content with where you are today
  • Practice non-attachment to material possessions
  • Be self-contained in pain or pleasure, happiness or sorrow
  • Find motivation without overdoing it
  • Create balance in your life

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