Last night we had our very first Advanced Meditation Meeting, an evening filled with a group meditation, Vedic philosophy and a beautiful Ayurvedic feast was enjoyed at The Broad Place studio. It was the first of hopefully many to come.
We discussed a Vedic topic of Sattva and living a Sattvic life, which essentially means living in harmony.
Sat (tav); being, as it should be, perfect
All phenomenon in the universe come under the influence of three primary states/phases of activity called the Three Gunas; Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. How we respond to events in our lives depends on the balance of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Sattva; equilibrium, knowledge, purity. Creation.
Rajas; activity, passion, action. Maintenance.
Tamas; inertia, ignorance. Destruction or Remover.
Our nature is peaceful, creative and limitlessly comprehensive, and can become disconnected to its quiet and subtle source, Atma, through imbalance of the Guna’s. We want to ensure we follow a Sattvic Vihara (lifestyle), with much connection to our Ahara (diet) so that we may experience Svasthya (being established in health and oneself).
The balance of the three Guna’s is vital for our health and our happiness. Our basic nature is Sattva (creative) with just enough Rajas and Tamas to bring about fruition. A Sattvic mind lends itself to clear, calm, creative thinning and allows us to create solutions. We need Rajas to implement these solutions and Tamas to bring them to an end when the solution has been resolved. Food not only nourishes the body, it nourishes the mind and our conscious state.
The Three Guna’s
Sattva in the universe is responsible for all creation. The ability to visualise, think right, do good, and act in accordance with the laws of nature all come from Sattva. If Sattva were an animal it would be an elephant; strong yet gentle, very intelligent. An elegant pace with endless grace and an imperturbable nature.
Sattvic foods are savory, smooth, firm and pleasant to the stomach. They are rich in Prana (life force). Sattvic foods calm the mind and sharpen the intellect. Sattvic foods chewed carefully in modest proportions are soothing, light, pure, nourishing, balancing and promote and maintain mental poise. Sattvic food is of the highest grade and is clean, pure and gives life, strength, energy, courage and self determination. It provides subtle nourishment for vitality and consciousness. Sattvic people are loving, compassionate and pure minded. They have a positive attitude and behavior and do not anger or frustrate easily. They are fresh, alert, full of lister and have clear intelligence, happiness and joy. They don’t experience mental fatigue and require very little sleep.
In cosmic terms, Rajas is responsible for maintenance and nurturing of what has been created. Motivation and taking action are it’s primary qualities. Excess Rajas leads to an unsettled and perpetually restless mind. If Rajas were an animal it would be the tiger; killing and eating animals, fierce, aggressive, carnivorous. Restless, strong and always on the prowl.
RAJASIC FOODS stimulate and irritate the system. Rajasic foods are pungent, sour, salty, harsh, astringent and burnt. Too much salt and spice has a Rajasic effect on the mind, and promotes greed, selfishness, and creates a restless person, full of unfulfilled desire. Qualities in a Rajasic person are egotistical, fear of failure, anger, jealousy and they are quickly drained of energy through too much passion and frenetic energy. Junk foods like potato chips and chocolate bars, excessively sweet, salty, spicy or pungent foods (such as raw onions and garlic), can cause the mind to become agitated and disturbed.
Tamas supplies us with the ability to finish or complete what was generated by Sattva and Rajas. In the context of the Universe, Tamas stands for destruction. Some see Tamas as negative, but Ayurveda understands that like all the Guna’s, Tamas has a role to play. Tamas urges us to move past that which is lifeless and old. Tamasic people are dark in nature, heavy of heart and have a tendency for inertia and materialism. They are attached, irritable and are generally uncaring towards others with a dull gloomy nature that is blinded with greed. If Tamas were an animal it would be a jackal. Cunning, fearful and lazy, the carnivorous jackal rests through the day and is awake through the night, eating the leftovers of other animals kills.
TAMASIC FOODS are lacking in prana and do not support life. Tamasic foods leave us feeling tired and sluggish, and are stale, tasteless, smelly, leftover or rotten. These include old and leftover food, deeply fried food, excessive meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, hard cheeses. Alcohol and drugs are tamasic and can also have a rajasic effect. Certain herbs and spices, such as nutmeg have a dulling effect upon the mind, which is why in cases of insomnia, nutmeg is used as a traditional aid to sleep.
A Sattvic Life
– waking in the hours of Brahma Mahurt (the hour of totality, 1-2 hours before Surya (the sun) rises
– gentle exercise daily
– daily meditation (twice for Vedic)
– a considered approach and routine to eating; eating at the same time each day, and eating sitting and not engaged in other activities and gratitude for what we are enjoying
– getting to bed early
– development of Sattvic states of mind; calm, positivity, enthusiasm, joy, happiness, honesty, humility, flexibility, moderation, balance, gratitude
– being engaged in conscientious hard work that contributes good in the world
Fresh organic fruits; especially apples, apricots, bananas, berries, dates, grapes, melons, lemons, mangoes, oranges, peaches and plums, are considered especially sattvic
Organic vegetables; including beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green leafy veggies, sweet potatoes and squash. Pungent veggies like hot peppers, garlic and onion are excluded, as are gas-forming veggies such as mushrooms and potatoes. They are considered rajasic and tamasic respectively.
Fresh organic dairy of the highest grade; including milk, ghee, freshly made yoghurt and paneer
Nuts, seeds and oils; soaked where possible, and almonds without the skins
Whole grains; provide nourishment when well cooked, including organic rice, whole wheat, spelt, oatmeal and barley. Lightly roasted before cooking or sprouting is beneficial.
Legumes; Split mung beans, yellow split peas, organic tofu, bean sprouts and perhaps lentils and aduki beans are considered sattvic if well prepared.
Spices; Sattvic spices are the milder spices including basil, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, fresh ginger and turmeric. Rajasic spices like black pepper, red pepper and garlic are normally excluded, but are sometimes used in small amounts to keep the channels open (rajas is used to counter tamas).
Sweeteners; raw honey that is never heated to too high a temperature