Monday, July 23, 2012

Get to know the Gunas

"All material nature is made up the interplay of three energies or "gunas". Part of the work of yoga is to go beyond the limitation of seeing life as forms and concepts, and to see the underlying qualities of things.
The gunas are a great map for navigating your way through life. When you can recognize which of these energies is at play in your life, it makes it so much easier to bring about a state of balance.


Generally: is a passionate, frenetic, creative, tumultuous energy.
People that are rajasic are full of desire, thirsting for worldly enjoyment, and even at more extreme ends of the scale, fueled by competition and ambitiousness. The Sanskrit root means "impure". It is also related to the root rakta, "redness". And raga, "passion." If you think of living in a bright red room or a woman wearing a red dress, you can feel the energy of Rajas.

Food that is Rajasic is quite stimulating (often times over stimulating). Eg: spicy, sour, acid foods like coffee, hot peppers, onions and so on. If you find yourself eating really quickly too, this too can be rajasic. If you have ever been to a big smorgasbord and eaten way too many combinations of food, you would have belly will be feeling the effect of Rajas Guna


Tamas is dull, insensible, gloomy and dark energy. The Sanskrit word literally means "darkness, dark-blue, black"
People that are tamasic are gloomy, sluggish, dull and blinded by greed. Sometimes people who are tamasic can be characterized as lazy and slothful. If you spend the night drinking tequila in Margaritaville, the next morning you will find yourself deep in the heart of Tamasicville On the darker end of the tamasic scale, they can be unconscious of the needs others, dark and destructive.

Food: that is Tamasic is stale, under or over ripe. Heavy meats. Canned, reheated or fermented foods. Eating too much is Tamasic.


Sattva is a calm, peaceful and clear energy. The Sanskrit word is based on the principle "Sat" or "being, as it should be, perfect"

People that are Sattvic are calm, centered, compassionate and unselfish.

Food that is Sattvic is nourishing & easy to digest. Cereals, Fresh Fruit, Pure Water, Veggies, Milk, Yogurt

Star Wars…. The Dark Side is Guna Strike Back

The whole saga of Star Wars is a great lesson in the interplay of the Gunas – the galaxy far, far away was peaceful with the Jedi keeping the order. Then the ambitiousness and greed of a few rajasic minds reshape a good chunk of the universe into the tamasic doldrums. Our hero, a young, keen rajasic mind learns the way of the sattva guna and even the "force" beyond all of the gunas and after long, rajasic battles, the universe is restored back to the realms of sattva guna.

Darth Vader: in from episode IV on is Tamasic – the "Dark Side" is Tamas, pure and simple. Just add a little Rajasic passion and watch out; you have a force ready to take over the universe.

Yoda: Like a yogi, Yoda is straight up Sattva – even though his rajasic side come out in his recent ass-kicking light saber battle in "Attack of the Clones"

Luke Skywalker as a young and restless farm boy on Tatooine was filled with Rajas. The desire to see the universe and become a Jedi. The Cantina at Mos Eisley Space Port a great example of Rajasic energy (with a big smacking of Tamas); creatures filled with the energy of passion and greed congregating in a bustling beehive of "scum and villainy".

Things to think about it on your next beach walk:

Lord of the Rings is another great dramatic example of the Gunas at play but we won’t get into the details here
Blowing up World Trade Center is out right Tamasic. The only question is it better to respond with Tamasic Response, or is there a way to that Sattvic approach. It is a difficult question and one that I think of often.

How to work with the Gunas:

We are all made up of different combinations of each guna, but at certain times of your life, one guna will be dominant. Harmonizing oneself with this fact can be profoundly empowering. There will be bad hair, tamasic days in our life, and there may even be whole periods that are dark and tamasic, but they pass. Watch them pass, knowing that no guna remains dominant for long – it truly is a dynamic interplay.

Also, maybe there are certain aspects of your life that have undesirable effects. For example, may we are having a hard time sleeping at night and feel anxious and stressed out. Obviously in this case, the rajas gunas is dominant. Do you need more Tamas (dullness) or Sattva (peace)? How can you increase the amount of sattva? A yoga class or two wouldn’t hurt. A walk in the forest may be good. Or maybe even trying to nip the source of all that rajas in the bud and eliminate strong desires, attachment or cravings in our psyche."

Eoin Finn 2002

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