Recently I was fortunate enough to spend hours with a group of amazing ladies. We come from different walks of life but we are all the same.
In today’s world it seems we are constantly focused on the outer body and not the inner. Even in yoga, as a teacher, I see many students sit on their mats and have a hard time quieting their minds. They tend to be in the “mindset” of asking for progress reports: How did I do? Did I work up a sweat? Did I challenge myself? Am I getting any better? How can I progress?
As a teacher we speak about quieting the mind and we perhaps work with pranayama, but do we give our students what they want instead of what they need just to keep our classes full? I believe we give them what they need at the moment in hopes they will sit on their mats wherever they are to bring harmony to their body and mind. I am on this path in this life like everyone else: Learning and stumbling and sometimes rising during whatever life brings.
We live in a world where others are constantly telling us what reality is. In magazine, on television screens, and on billboards, we think they are selling us reality, but in truth they are just selling. Can you be quiet enough to hear that and can you get comfortable enough in your own skin to not be altered by the words of others selling for the sake of selling?
In yoga we speak about the maha gunas (great qualities) of the mind. They are sattva, rajas, and tamas. In order to work towards achieving good health and happiness, we must work with the mind as well as the body. These qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas are in nature as well as us. All three of these qualities are in us but some will play a more dominant role at times then others. These qualities are continuously being affected by our diet and lifestyle as well as our environments.
Sattva – is clarity, harmony, balance
Rajas – is movement, stimulation, chaos, activity (mind)
Tamas – dull, dark, greedy, stubborn, inertia (mind)
Sattva can be achieved through a good diet of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and non-processed foods. It is also found through good deeds, finding balance in your lifestyle, and by maintaining the right relationships (keep good company).
Rajas can be exacerbated through caffeine, sugar, spicy, and pungent foods. We need balanced rajas in order to get things done, to wake up and go about our day, however, it can also bring about restlessness, overstimulation and competitiveness.
Tamas can be exacerbated through processed foods, and eating left over’s and microwaved foods. It is the quality that can bring about a heaviness in order to fall asleep at night and rest when needed, but too much tamas can cause us to be lethargic, inactive and lack motivation.
So how do we increase sattva and keep rajas and tamas in balance to stay productive and lead a happy, healthy life? Through the wisdom of Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old science!
- First and foremost to establish a routine of Dinacharya in one's life (a daily practice of cleansing our sense organs each morning). See earlier blog for more information.
- To keep good company – spend time with like-minded individuals. Hang out with people and friends who support you and each other! Be with positive people and if that is not happening see how you can change it.
- Listen to uplifting music and movies. Read things that nourish your life and soul. Stay positive.
- When you sit down to a meal, sit down to a meal. Be mindful of what you put in your mouth as that food will either nourish your body or create toxins in your body. Chew slowly and eat as fresh as possible. Sit at a table and don’t eat on the run. Remember you are nourishing your body and life; give it the time it needs to digest well. This digestion nourishes all the tissues of your body or not if you are always eating on the go.
- Go outside summer, winter, spring or fall for a walk in nature. Look around you see how nature thrives. Even in an urban oasis as my beloved NYC there is nature all around the concrete.
- Turn off ALL electronics to quiet the mind, senses and spirit. Try practicing this an hour before your bedtime, then notice if you start sleeping better. Pick up that book you have been wanting to read and take it to bed before turning the lights out.
- Last and surely not least – Gratitude for these crazy, wonderful, challenging, hectic lives we lead. I believe we have been given a gift by being born into this world. What gifts can you give back?
Can you give gratitude for what you have? Can you find balance deep within yourself to find peace? Can you not be lead by fear? Sit and meditate each day Give yourself space and time. The answers are there. Nothing to buy just dedication to living the best life possible and fulfilling your dharma. Keep your senses healthy through your dinacharya routine so that when the answers come you will be able to hear, as sometimes they do not come through your ears alone.