Thursday, April 5, 2012

Calming Spring's Rajas

Well even in the midwest, spring has sprung. Nature is welcoming rajo guna into it's evolutionary process and we too are emerging into a state of action. Since all of nature is connected, I'm sure you may have noticed a bit more rajas (excitement, action) in your life. Perhaps a little more 'spring' in your step, a feeling of increased energy as you come out of winter's tamas (inertia). 

Without discipline, rajas can cause havoc in our mind's. A rajasic mind is said have a strong pull towards control and power and often indulges in objects of the senses. It is said to be filled with judgements, lust, passion, etc. It is reflected as a distracted mind, where it is difficult to focus. If you have noticed any of these qualities within, you are not alone as it is the predominant guna of the season.  :)

Thankfully, sattva (purity, peace) more easily culminates from the fire of rajas than the mud of tamas.

Here are three basic tips to calming the fire of rajas and increasing the peaceful ways of sattva:

1. Increase your asana and pranayama practice by 15-30 minutes each day you practice. If you do not have the time to increase, then shorten your practice but aim for every day. Remember 10 minutes a day is better than 3 hours once a week. Suggested practice? At least 60 minutes daily of asana, pranayama, and meditation, in this order. Focus on cooling asanas like moon salutations, simple back bends and spinal twists. Embody calmness, serenity and peacefulness.

2. Try to be in bed before 10pm, the beginning time for rajo guna. While lying down on your back in bed take 5-10 deep, slow conscious breaths. This calms the central nervous system and cools rajas, encouraging deeper rest. Be sure to surrender, let go. Breathe in "let" and breathe out "go." Then just rest in the silence and stillness.

3. Eat more natural, organic and whole foods. Reduce consumption of spicy, fried, processed foods, especially those containing onions and garlic. Increase cooling foods like cucumbers, steamed greens, mung beans and basmati rice.

If you would like to learn more about the universal cosmic energies "Three Gunas" (sattva, rajas, tamas) please read this article written by my Guru, Swami Sivananda. While surfing the web, I also found this informational articleTo learn more about calming rajas (or pitta), visit the Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Center's amazing website.

Blessings on your journey towards wholeness.

Are you a Thief or a Saint?

This past month, a group of aspirants and I have been reading and studying the ancient Yoga scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. This month reminded me just how precious these sacred teachings are and how they so sweetly sing to your heart and spirit. As we are exploring the teachings I came across an insightful message I'd like to share as an inner contemplation for you.

It is found in Chapter 3, Sloka 12 (3:12). Below I have quoted a synopsis of chapters one and two from Swami Satchidananda's Living Gita as well as his commentary on sloka 3:12.

Swami Satchidananda says, "Up to now we have seen something of the philosophy about the [Immortal] Self or Atman and touched on the practical side of Karma Yoga, which helps us go about realizing the Atman. We also covered the qualifications of the realized person whom the Gita calls one of steady wisdom. In this chapter, The Yoga of Action, we'll learn the secret of action."

This 'secret' explains that one who moves through life free from desires and unattached to the actions, or the fruits of the actions, is a true yogi or saint. It speaks of the importance of living a Selfless life in remembrance of the very Source that is animating all of existence. It teaches you how to be a Divine vessel, allowing the Higher Self, or Source to flow through you and nourish all Creation.

Although this sounds lovely in concept, it is very difficult to master. "To do" something and have no identification to the action or the results of the action, is nearly impossible. To be rooted in no desires is even more challenging.

Luckily, the Gita gives us a tool to measure our Selflessness; asking us to inquire how much we take and how much we give. It also reminds us that we are already saintly and that everlasting peace is achievable in this very birth.

Sloka 3:12 explains, "Cherished by your spirit of sacrifice, the gods give you everything you want. (But remember) whoever receives gifts from the gods without offering anything back is a thief."

The Gita gives name to the five types of 'giving' and 'taking'. They are:

                               Take    |    Give
Thief                       100%           0%
Debtor                    100%         50%
Good Business
Person                    100%        100%
Righteous Person    50%         100%
Yogi / Saint             0%     1% - 100%

So I ask you... which are you? A thief ? A saint? Somewhere in between?

Swami Satchidananda explains, "We should always examine our transactions and discover in which category we put ourselves: one, thief; two, debtor; three, business person; four, righteous person; or five, a saint. And if you're already 'one,' try to be 'two.' If you're already 'two,' try to promote yourself to 'three.' Stop not until the fifth category is reached."

He continues, "It's nice to keep this information handy. Yajna [selfless offering] is so beautiful. So much could be said about it. The whole life is an offering."

Let this be our practice, let this be our life. May we all radiate Saintliness in this very birth.