In this newsletter, we share with you Ayurveda and the Mind and the practice of Raja Yoga or Meditation as a means to not only witness the workings of the mind but perhaps with practice, even learn to transcend it.
THE THREE GUNAS
To better understand the mind according to Ayurveda, we need to first learn about the three Gunas. A guna, in Sanskrit means a quality or attribute. These three gunas are the energies of the mind and are constantly reacting to the information we receive through our physical senses.
Sattva - Harmony and Clarity
Rajas - Movement and Agitation
Tamas - Inertia and Contradiction
According to Ayurveda, everything, on all levels of manifestation is made up of different combinations of these three strands or gunas. They underlie matter, life and mind.
To lead a pure and enlightened life, full of joy and well being, one must cultivate the quality of Sattva in their life. This can be achieved through diet, exercise and meditation. The goal of Yoga and Ayurveda is to make Sattva the predominant guna or quality of the mind.
MONITORING THE MIND
Develop an awareness of your mental state
Sit comfortably on a chair or on the ground keeping your back straight. Take a few deep breaths and begin.
- Relax your mind, bring your awareness to your breath. This will anchor you on the present moment
- Shift your mental focus by visualizing a lake or a forest or any scenery that inspires you
- Observe your mind by becoming aware of the quality of your thoughts and emotions
- If you notice your mind wander, bring your awareness back to your breath. Do not drive them out, just stay focused on your breath
- Visualize yourself exhaling any negative emotions or thoughts with each outgoing breath and breathing in love or joy with each incoming breath
Do this every day for 10 - 15 minutes
A key to successful meditation is understanding that we are not the mind but rather a separate consciousness called the Self. Although we have a body, a mind, emotions and a personality; our true essence is the Self. The ultimate purpose of yoga is not to control the mind but to dissolve its thoughts and content so that we can experience our true nature, which is pure consciousness.
THE MIND AND THE SELF
An exercise on creating separation from the mind
Once you are sitting comfortably with your back straight..
- Scan your body for tensions and let go of them one by one
- Create space between your body and thoughts by visualizing this
- Witness your thoughts come and go but do not attach yourself to them. Imagine standing on the banks of a river watching the flow of water without the desire to jump in
- Realize that the part of you that is observing the thoughts is different from the thoughts themselves
- Repeat mentally "I am a witness to my thoughts and therefore, I am not my thoughts"
- Feel the calmness that comes from this deep realization
Practice this exercise daily for 10 - 15 minutes
A SATTVA DIET
Sattvic foods are generally sweet, fresh, light, nourishing, and aromatic and create feelings of contentment, joy, and aliveness after digesting them.
- Fresh fruit, ghee, honey, basmati rice, fresh vegetables, seeds and nuts, wholegrains, cold pressed oils.
- Organic, Non GMO where possible
- Avoid preservatives, alcohol, drugs, unripe, fried, canned or refined foods