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Gunas Practical

The Gunas - A Practical Application


Last month I explained how gunas, the subtle energies that pervade every aspect of existence, strongly shape and influence our lives. Gunas describe everything from the grossest things like food or places to the subtlest things like thought and emotion. This month I would like to give you a practical explanation about how, by watching the gunas (energy) in all facets of your life, you can not only begin to understand why and how a lot of things happen, but you will also be able to, with practice, re-channel your life in a positive and uplifting direction.

On a subtle level, everything that we encounter has an influence on our consciousness. People, places, foods, experiences - all carry an energy which molds our consciousness. Let's limit this discussion to food.
The food we eat shapes our thoughts and our consciousness. Sattvic or pure foods contribute to healthier bodies and calmer minds. By uplifting our consciousness and help to bring our higher nature into play. Sattvic foods include things like fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains. A sattvic diet is very important from a yogic perspective for it is absolutely necessary to make the mind calm and prepare it for meditation.

Rajasic foods make the mind active, passionate and restless. They make it very difficult to attain a calm mind and a meditative state. It is that aspect which is continually moving, which doesn't allow the mind to be quiet and peaceful. Rajasic foods include things like very spicy foods, foods that are very hot, bitter, dry or salty, coffee and tea, fish, eggs and chocolate. Onions and garlic, although touted as good for the body, are also rajasic and make meditation for the neophyte more difficult.

Tamas is the guna which projects a dull, lazy or lethargic energy. Tamasic foods dull our reasoning ability, bring our energy right down and tend to make us almost inert. Tamasic foods include meat, alcohol, fermented foods such as vinegar, and stale or overripe foods.

Sometimes people tend to confuse the tasmasic state of mind (dull, lazy and lethargic) with the sattvic state of mind (clear, uplifted, and focused) and think that because their minds are not racing that they have reached a high spiritual level. This is often inertia and lethargy.

Consider incorporating these insights about the gunas into your food choices as you are able. Next month we will relate your life experiences to the gunas.