Gunas Deep Dive: How to Maximize Sattva for Harmony, Awareness & Happiness
Last week, we posted a basic introduction to the three Gunas, or the three fundamental states through which we cycle throughout our lives. We experience different levels for each Guna that shift according to our lifestyles. This balance between the gunas underlies our doshic balance and permeates all living things in the universe—under this perspective, we can begin to understand how we are fundamentally connected to other beings, and how the environment plays a role in our overall well-being and balance.
While the Rajas Guna represents intensity and motion, and the Tamas Guna represents stasis and inertia, the Sattva Guna balances and regulates the other two Gunas through its promotion of intelligence, understanding, joy, harmony and awareness. The ultimate goal of spiritual practice is to maximize Sattva levels, which can in turn bring greater happiness, clarity and wisdom into our lives. When Sattva is maximized, we experience beneficial changes on all fronts: our minds can think more clearly and gain greater discernment; our actions reflect our desire to contribute positively to the world; and we become more in tune with our own internal wants, needs, desires and hopes. We feel in touch with ourselves in a world where constant stimulation and work can leave us feeling alienated.
Fortunately, boosting Sattva is something you can achieve with a few simple, yet transformative lifestyle changes. Here are some ways you can maximize Sattva in your life for greater clarity, balance and peace.
Tips for Increasing Sattva
Yoga is a sister science to Ayurveda intended to prove people with practices that bring balance to their mind, body and spirit. While yoga is a potent tool for improving physical health, it is ultimately aimed at boosting one’s meditative capacities and alleviating spiritual hardship.
Practicing daily yoga is a great way to boost intelligence and mental clarity while also detoxifying physically; a regular yoga practice can thus effectively boost Sattva levels.
There are many different techniques and poses you can try, depending on your physical and emotional needs. Here is a quick breakdown of different yoga poses to try out based on your dosha, and here is an interview with Ayurveda and yoga specialist Ali Cramer on the spiritually transformative possibilities of these practices.
Stay Connected with Nature
In the natural world, the Gunas achieve a harmonious balance. This is because animals live according to their nature, whereas humans introduce self-imposed and artificial regulations and practices that throw our spiritual states out of balance. We have a lot to learn from nature, if we take the time to attune ourselves to the lessons it has to offer and to be mindful of the impact our actions can have on the world around us. Developing a consciousness of the healing powers and deep mysteries of the natural world—as well as the ways in which human activity on a large-scale, structural level continues to threaten its persistence—can help us ground and center ourselves and gain an understanding of the spiritual importance of nature. Spending time mindfully in the natural world will help you increase Sattva, enabling you to return to your daily life with renewed focus and determination.
Incorporate Meditation & Breathing Exercises
On a fundamental level, practicing regular, deep breathing has immense benefits on our physical and emotional wellbeing, bringing feelings of calm and groundedness. Whenever you feel stressed, frantic or otherwise out of balance, take a moment to breathe deeply and reconnect with your inner goals and ambitions.
Deep breathing can also be a part of a larger meditative practice. Meditation is a deeply individual process, one that requires stillness and dedication and that, when experienced fully, can bring about great tranquility, self-acceptance and rejuvenation. For those who want to try meditating for the first time, a good place to start is our guide to how to meditate for each dosha—from there, you can determine what works for you and what doesn’t, and how you can take your meditative practice to the next level in the future.
Eat a Clean Sattva Diet
The qualities of certain foods are associated with each Gunas. If you eat too much spicy food, for example, you can aggravate Rajas, and if you over-consume alcohol or eat too much meat, you can aggravate Tamas. To balance these two states, you should aim to eat a clean, healthy sattvic diet full of fruits, vegetables, herbs and grains. For information on the benefits of different Ayurvedic herbs, check out our new Ayurvedic Spice Cabinet Series. And here’s a breakdown of 4 Ayurvedic ingredients to elevate and nourish your diet.
Prioritize Work-Life Balance
When you overwork yourself and don’t give yourself enough time to rest and recover, you aggravate Rajas, which can lead us to over-consume and become burned out by the intensity of our endeavors. On the other hand, not working enough and letting yourself become overtaken by inertia, fatigue and dullness can cause Tamas to become imbalanced, making it difficult to achieve mental clarity and motivation. You can maximize the harmonizing, balancing effects of Sattva by taking a mindful, conscientious approach to work, outlining and tackling your goals without overdoing it. Be sure to take regular breaks throughout the day, and to set aside time each morning and evening away from work. It’s also important to spend time with loved ones, practice self-care, take trips and try out new activities—without feeling guilty or pressured to get back to work. In fact, there’s no need to feel guilty when you know that taking time for yourself is contributing to your overall contentment and wellbeing.