Do you know that feeling when you are running late, or when you realize that you have made a big mistake? It almost feels like a jolt. The realization brings most people immediately to the present moment, and often leaves them scrambling to fix the situation. Whether the next step is speeding down the freeway, or eating breakfast in a hurry, reacting to stress can have a “domino-like” negative effect in life.
The fact that we have this stress response, demonstrates how amazing our bodies are at adapting to situations and then rising to the needed occasion. However, the response may not be appropriate for a particular situation. What is interesting is that when our brain receives the signals of a problem, the stress response kicks in with no regard to whether it is an emotional, mental or physical stimulus.
If we don’t stop the process, stress builds and builds until we reach a breaking point. That point can be an emotional outburst, a mental breakdown or a physical illness. Nobody wants to get to that point. Ayurveda offers insight into stress, where it originates and how it can be balanced.
Ayurveda the Three Gunas – Balancing Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
Ayurveda identifies three mind-states of humans which are known as Gunas. They include Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is said to control purity and knowledge. Rajas is responsible for passion and action. Tamas deals with ignorance and inertia.
Increasing Sattva to Reduce Stress
When Sattva is at an elevated level, Rajas and Tamas are naturally reduced, thereby creating an inner balance. This will naturally reduce stress, especially in terms of stress caused by daily interactions and functions. Consider a heated debate with a person who has a lower level of Sattva, there will be a lack of focus on their part that will allow a logical and knowledge-based solution from a higher Sattva to deflate a situation.
Increased Sattva also works in another way. By increasing Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are naturally reduced. Rajas is the part of the mind that allows for solid sleep. If Rajas is overly elevated, sleep can be disrupted. This disruption, over time, can lead to stress and mental problems such as irritability and even depression. Therefore, it’s only logical that by increasing Sattva, thereby reducing Rajas and Tamas, the mind will be balanced and stress will be drastically reduced.
Increasing Sattva Naturally
Sattva can be easily increased through simple life changes. By practicing regular meditation and breathing exercises Sattva will be increased, while stress simultaneously decreases. Additionally, a healthy diet and adequate physical fitness will improve balance within your life.
Meditation – Practicing regular meditation, preferably seated cross-legged on the floor, will relax the body and mind. Additionally, meditation creates a state of inner peace, ensuring complete relaxation.
Breathing Exercises – Performing concentrated breathing exercises can increase Sattva, thereby reducing stress. Take a few moments throughout the day, or as needed, and breathe slowly, allowing you diaphragm to expand and contract.
Healthy Diet – Following a healthy balanced diet will improve stress levels. In order to use food to increase Sattva, try eating nutrient dense foods that are free from processing and pesticides. Your diet should consist primarily of fresh fruits and veggies, healthy grains and raw seeds and nuts. Additionally, you should remove harmful foods from your diet, such as caffeine containing food and beverages, sugar products and spices registering on the scoville (heat) scale.
Physical Fitness – Aside from maintaining a healthy weight and developing adequate muscle tissue, routine physical fitness can increase Sattva. By exercising on a regular schedule, you’ll be able to consistently prevent stress via an elevated Sattva.
The Bottom Line
Elevated stress levels have been tied to a multitude of mental health issues as well as several physical ailments. By increasing Sattva, you’ll have a balanced mind. This will keep you physically and mentally healthy and prepared to manage any stressful circumstances that come your way.
Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.