Gunas Deep Dive: How to Combat Stagnation & Brain Fog by Balancing Tamas
Over the past few weeks, we’ve broken down the concept of the three gunas in Ayurveda. As a quick recap, the gunas are fundamental qualities that shape our doshic constitution and inform how and why we experience physical, mental and spiritual imbalance. They are informed by the interactions between the five central elements that comprise the doshas—fire, water, ether, air and earth. Not only do they manifest themselves in our own individual experience, with their balance being shaped by our lifestyle choices and environmental conditions, but they are also ever-present forces in constant flux throughout the universe. Understanding how the gunas inform one’s constitution can also help us become more attuned to the energies shaping the surrounding world.
Previously, we took a look at the Sattva guna, which balances and regulates the other two gunas—Rajas and Tamas—to promote overall harmony and well-being. Here, we focus on the Tamas guna. Tamas, when working in harmony with Sattva and Rajas, promotes rest and recovery. Characterized by inertia and stillness, it offers necessary relief from overstimulation. However, when an excess of Tamas accumulates, our minds can become sluggish, stagnant and hazy, and we can become prone to bouts of laziness and inactivity. An imbalance of Tamas might also be accompanied by overconsumption and oversleeping. Also characterized by darkness, Tamas can make it difficult for us to see higher truths or to clearly understand the situations around us.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these conditions, chances are that Tamas is dominating. Here are several tips for combating excess Tamas to promote overall mental clarity, energy and balance.
Eat light, fresh ingredients and avoid tamasic foods
Tamas can be aggravated when we consume foods that dull the senses and impede our agni from promoting overall health. This includes meat, alcohol, greasy or processed foods, carbs and fats. Try to limit your consumption of these types of foods while increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. To learn more about how to tailor your diet toward your specific needs and imbalances, check out our blog here on diet tips for each dosha.
Limit your consumption
Overconsumption in any regard can contribute to the lethargy and stasis of Tamas, leaving our minds and senses stunted and even immobilized. We experience this when we overeat at a meal, or drink too much on a night out.
Overconsumption also isn’t limited to the realm of food and drink—given that Tamas is characterized by darkness, excessive exposure to violence (whether that be through films, books, television or video games) also contributes to Tamas imbalance. Any lifestyle habit that indulges in sensual or bodily pleasure without regulation further contributes to the clouded, hazy, darkened consciousness of Tamas. To begin regulating Tamas, take stock of the areas in your life in which you tend to overconsume and try to gradually regulate and reduce your consumption levels.
Regulate your sleep schedule
Too much sleep also contributes to the feelings of mental sluggishness and lethargy that accompany a Tamas imbalance. If you find yourself oversleeping, try to regulate your sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. If you find yourself feeling sleepy and sluggish during the day, try to resist the urge to take a nap and instead take a walk, spend some time in nature, read a book or meet up with a friend—in short, engage in activities that combat inertia, whether it be mental, physical or social.
In general, Ayurveda recommends going to sleep by or before 10pm. If you’re a night owl or are otherwise having trouble falling asleep at an earlier hour, check out our blog on Ayurvedic tips for better sleep. You can also try out our Pure Rest Wellness Incense or Pure Rest Wellness Oil to induce feelings of calm before going to sleep.
Centuries-old Ayurvedic wisdom attests to the power of meditation to transform one’s relationship to the self, encouraging mental clarity, combating stress and promoting attunement with the surrounding world. As extensive research has shown, meditation increases calm, reduces anxiety and depression, combats insomnia, reduces blood pressure, alleviates pain and more. By establishing a regular meditation practice, you can empower yourself to combat the mental and physical lethargy that accompanies a Tamas imbalance.
If you want to try meditation but are not sure where to start, check out our guide on how to meditate according to your dosha.
In addition to mental sluggishness, an excess of Tamas also often leaves us falling into patterns of physical inertia in which we avoid activity and exercise. It’s highly important to combat this physical lethargy by regularly exercising, whether that be by taking a walk in the evenings, practicing yoga or engaging in more high-intensity workouts. You can tailor your exercise routine to your individual needs and imbalances; furthermore, certain exercises are better suited for certain doshas. As long as you’re ensuring that you stay active (and have fun in the process too!), you’ll be making crucial progress on promoting overall balance among the gunas.