The Upanishad’s state the food that is eaten is divided threefold. The gross part becomes excrement. The middle part becomes flesh. The subtle part becomes the mind. It has been rightly said we are what we eat which clearly implies that our food patterns and dietary habits not only govern our body but also our thinking processes. What we eat affects our emotions and can create a predisposition for both psychological and physical disorders. Mind stays healthy only when body is healthy and vice versa. So in order to keep mind and body in a healthy state our diet must be Sattvic.
In this article, we will see the diet and lifestyle recommended by Ayurveda to maintain Sattva state.
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The Three Gunas : Sattva, Rajas & Tamas
The three subtle basic components (tri gunas) of Sattva, Raja and Tamas are the very fabric of creation. Unknown to modern sciences, they permeate through all living and non-living, tangible and intangible things. The vibrations emitted by anything are dependent on its predominant subtle basic component. This also influences the behavior of all things.Sattva stands for purity and knowledge and sattvic individual lives in service of society with no expectation of recognition or reward of any ulterior motive. Rajas stands for action and passion and Rajasic individuals live more for personal gain and achievement. Tamas stands for ignorance and inertia. Tamasic individual has no problem about stepping on other’s toes to get ahead or harming the society.
The gunas cannot be explained altogether distinctly from one another. Rajas, Sattva, and Tamas are mixed up with one another. They are attached to one another, serve one another, they feed on one another. Everything in the world is made of these three gunas. The creation of the gunas is eternal. As long as there is goodness so long, darkness exists. And, as long as goodness and darkness exist, so long the passion exists. They perform their journey together, in union and moving about collectively.
Sattva can be correlated to potential energy of the system, Rajas – to the kinetic one, while Tamas is the lack of energy. This metaphor complies with physiological descriptions and it is intuitively subject to hierarchization according to up to down axis. For instance, the seed with its potency of making the new plant grow is Sattvic in its nature, the plant in its full bloom is Rajasic while the rotten fruit that has fallen from it is of Tamas nature.
Eat the right Diet
Regular and timely meals should be taken. Over eating and fasting should be avoided. Ayurveda diet emphasizes on eating a healthy diet which helps to maintain balance in doshas. It is not mathematical. It is about eating in moderation, the right diet which is conducive to health. One should refrain from frozen food. Freshly prepared warm meals are advisable to be taken always. Refined sugars, sweets, chocolates, stimulants, caffeine, coffee, tea, cold drinks and foods, carbonated beverages, preserved food, fried or overcooked food, strong spices, excessively spicy food should be reduced. They interfere not only with the normal functioning of the body organs but also disturb our mental faculties, derange our emotions and thoughts. Also, foods like red meat, aged cheeses, over spiced, oily, salty, pungent and sour foods should be reduced. Hence, avoiding processed, precooked, fast foods and frozen foods is one of the best ways to reduce the Rajasic and Tamasic energies in your diet.
Ghee, cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh warming spices, curd, yoghurt, milk, nuts and dry fruits soaked in water overnight, and cereals are good for maintaining a Sattvaguna, the positive energy of mind which fosters positive attitude and all positive emotions. It also balances of the negative energies in our mind. Sattvaguna is absolutely necessary for keeping our mind free from harmful negative emotions like anger. Hence, including foods that contain ‘Sattvaguna’ is the best way to control negative emotions.
Simple Lifestyle suggestions
Avoid going very late to bed at night or staying awake at night, over work, abuse, social isolation, self destructive behavior, negative thinking, alcohol, smoking and tobacco. Sleeping for 8 hours at night, Going to bed early and waking up early should be practiced. Practice pranayama or focused breathing exercise, yoga and meditation. Go for walking and be physically active all through the day. Listen to soft music at night. Organize your work and keep up with your tasks. It will ease off burdens and enhance Sattva Guna.
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