Photo courtesy of Kami Stafford

Other Methods for Balancing Gunas

Other areas of this site discuss the use of foods and nutrition in balancing the gunas. This page is for those who the use of the gunas in food alone does not balance these sufficiently.

This certainly cannot be a complete discussion of all of the possibilities, but these are some methods that I know work for myself and some for other people. I hope that some of them or some combination work for you. If something does help you control your energies and moods better, including anything I've listed here, a combination of them, or something you've found elsewhere or otherwise discovered, please write to me.

If you click on a link that does not work, please do me the favor of reporting the broken link.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this page or on this site is to be construed as medical advice. I am only discussing the necessity for sleep, and other ordinary functions. I discuss simple ways that can help most average people get to sleep. You may wish to discuss these and any problems or concerns with your doctor or sleep clinic.

Meditational Methods

The easiest and fastest ways to change one's energy focus or balance are the meditational methods. In general, most meditations are satvic, although there are some notable exceptions, including some walking meditations.

There are all sorts of meditations, in all of these energy types and balances, both spiritual and non-spiritual. Most of these will help, but the important thing is to find something you like and stick with it. An easy way to start is with a brief simple meditation. From there, there are numerous methods, which you may find in books, online. A good list of books on the topic is available at this Amazon Book List.

Meditation itself is something done to the mind. It is not, in itself, a spiritual practice. However, one may include spirituality in it, or any type. It is important to use meditations which at the very least do not conflict with one's other beliefs, if they do not otherwise work with them. Eastern religions have done more with meditation historically than western religions, but that is changing. For a list of books on Christian meditations, see this Amazon Book List on the topic.

There are meditations intrinsic to almost all religions. There are a GREAT many to choose from if one is practicing Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or various other eastern religions. Although I am not an expert by any means in Judaism, some good books on the topic are and

Islam and Sufism each have a rich tradition of mysticism and meditational practices. Books involving either of these and mysticism or meditation gives some wonderful results to this non-Muslim.


Rajavic Meditational Methods

As I said on the main page, meditation as typically thought of, understood, and practiced is a very sattvic activity. However, this need not be the case. There are meditation methods for all of the gunas.

Rajavic meditation is movement-oriented. Meditation done while walking, dancing, or exercising would be rajavic. Many runners tell me that after running a considerable distance, their mind almost goes off into "another world" or "another state of being". There are many walking meditations, meditations that can be done while dancing. as well as various mindfulness techniques.

Additional Rajavic Methods

Another way this can be done is through the addition of energy of any type. Various forms of "light therapy", or the recommendation for getting some direct sunlight every day Articles and information on natural sunlight. Another way can be through medically-supervised light therapy, as discussed by the Mayo Clinic, as well as their discussion of Seasonal Affect Disorder. A more simple, preventive, do-it-yourself approach may be produced by simply getting away from your television and computer for just a little while, getting away from the job in the office, if only at lunch time, and taking in a few rays, can be found at You Are My Sunshine.

Additionally, while looking up references for the addition of sunlight to the eyes and skin, I found another related issue: Vitamin D. From what I have read here, mild vitamin D deficiency and may lead to numerous somatic disorders. It's simple to remedy through diet, sunlight, or supplementation, but I need to read more about all of this before I feel comfortable trying any of this on myself or writing about it.

All of this having been said, it is well-known that UV light has harmful effects on the body, through sunburns and skin-cancer, as well as many other conditions. Nutrition may help prevent this as well through having adequate antioxidents. See Blueberries Don't Get Sunburns. Additionally, during hot weather, exposure to sunlight may result in heat stroke. Caution is thus in order while using sunlight! Please discuss these concerns and the interaction with sunlight that any medications you may be taking with your health care professional before starting any course involving exposure to more natural sunlight, artificial lamps, or starting any exercise regimen including walking.

A way to get fresh, delicious, nutritious food, get exercise, sunlight, fresh air, and save a bit of money and environmental pollution is to plant a vegetable garden.

Steam rooms, saunas, and sweat lodges can also be this way, as they are the introduction of energy in the form of heat.

Most people are familliar with steam rooms or saunas as are found in most health clubs. Heresay has it that they help the muscles to relax, so one does not get sore muscles. That may be the case, or it could be that it's a time of relaxing away from most of "the world" and worries for a little while, so most if not all of the apparent effect is mental.

Sweat lodges are used in some Native American traditional belief systems. The appearance of the sweat lodge, and indeed all of the symbolism concerning it varies from tribe to tribe. Many Plains tribes, especially the Lakota Sioux, see the interior of the lodge as a representation of Mother Earth's womb. Often, a sweat lodge is undertaken to gain spiritual guidance or help, especially for the removal of some problem. Discussions of sweat lodges in general or first hand account of Mexican sweat lodges are available by clicking the links See Sweat Lodges and Alcohol Recovery for a discussion of their use in alcohol addiction recovery.

The use of sweat lodges in alcohol addiction recovery is interesting from a standpoint of the gunas, as discussed in this site. It makes a good example of how mixing 2 gunas yields the third. Alcohol is in itself tamasic, as is addiction, and the associated helplessness and hopelessness which is stagnation - another definition of the guna tamas. To counteract all of this tamas, the addition of rajas, in this case in the form of energy in the form of heat, combine to jar one out of the alcohol addiction and to a life without this chemical or the addiction.

In the use of sun or heat, caution and moderation are certainly in order! There is danger that the body temperature may rise well above any normal or safe range, leading to hyperthermia, which can become life threatening. Sweating may cause dehydration or effect the body's electrolyte balance. Consuming fluds pretty constantly throughout the heat will maintain fluid in the body, but the electolyte imbalance may lead to other health problems. Additionally, people with certain health conditions or taking some medications must remain in an environmentally controlled environment. A fairly well-balanced article on the subject of using heat in the form of steamrooms or saunas is available from The US Handball Association In any event, there are physical conditions that certainly preclude a particular person from spending any time in high heats. Please consult your health care provider before using these measures.


Book Recommendations


Tamasic Meditational Methods

Tamasic "meditational" methods are deceptively easy. Quite simply, it's the "meditations" you try which put you to sleep. Alternately, something as simple as counting sheep can well be considered a "tamasic meditational method".

One such meditational method is as follows:
Dress or undress comfortably, and lie down in bed, preferably on your back. If that is not possible, lie on your side or however you can be comfortable.

Starting with your feet, give them the conscious instruction for them to release any tension, and let it go. Breathe deeply, and focus on your breath as you do this... through the feet, ankles, knees, thighs, abdomen, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and finally your head. After you've given your head the suggestion to relax, continue to breathe deeply, keeping your breath constant - do not hold your breath between inhales and exhales. Inhale to the count of 4, and exhale to the count of 4. Continue this for a few minutes. In all liklihood, you will be soundly asleep.


Sleep Hygeine

"Sleep Hygeine" is a way of just saying to get the right amount of sleep. In short, for a person to operate at their optimum levels, that person must get adequate, but not excessive amounts of sleep. The average amount of sleep we get has gone down from 9-10 hours per night in 1900 to 6 hours and 54 minutes in 2002, dipping lower during the work or school week. While it can be shown that some people function optimally at 4 or 5 hours of sleep, most of us who are average need around 8 hours of sleep. This should be natural sleep, as opposed to alcohol or drug induced. In this context, I do not differentiate among over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, or drugs which were illegally obtained. Regardless of the source, these drugs do not produce the brainwaves which natural sleep does, which seem to be important for the adequate rest of the mind and body. Granted, over-the-counter remedies have their place for occasional use to allow the body to rest. Prescription medications have dangers from immediate and long-term use, all of which must be counterbalanced by a person's medical need, which is why it is important that these be prescribed and monitored by a doctor you trust implicitly to understand them, and to do the various tests required to determine if their benefit outweighs their harm, and whether they continue to be needed. A TINY amount of alcohol may help some people sleep, while large amounts impairs sleep. Tiny amounts may even do this to some people. Drugs which are illegal have many ways of harming the person, for the reason that they are illegal, and the likelihood of getting an unknown dosage which has been diluted with unknown substances, plus the possibility of legal problems as a result of taking or obtaining these drugs. Like my other messages on this site, my opinion of illegal drugs is simply don't.

In this section, I will discuss natural, effective, and legal ways of getting to sleep. These methods work for many people. I will stress though, that there are, indeed, sleep disorders that require medical attention to solve. If problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, or problems waking persist, please discuss these with your doctor or sleep clinic.

When we were children, our mothers told us to "go to bed at bedtime", and blamed all sorts of problems we had that night and the next day on "staying up past (our) bedtime". She was right. Many of us as adults are still having problems caused by "staying up past our bedtime" or, as Mom called it, "Having (our) days and nights mixed". While sleep needs indeed vary from person to person, one thing remains a constant is that we need the right amount for ourselves. Staying up "past our bedtime" for some particular reason, and occasionally, may be our choice as adults. Being chronically deprived of sleep is asking for trouble! Sleep deprivation has been linked to various problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder, shortened life expectancy, fibromylagia, not to mention the increased risk for automobile and other accidents.

Most methods for sleep are pretty simple and straightforward. Have a comfortable, supportive bed, with adequate, but not excessive covers on the bed. Try to use one pillow, or if this is not possible, please discuss the problem with your doctor or dentist. Use your bed only for sleep and "amorous activities". Do not use your bed to watch TV, listen to music, read, do needlework, or so forth. Use other areas of your home and other furniture. Go to bed at a certain time, and get up at a certain time. There is one school of thought that says that if you are sleeping properly, you will not need an alarmclock. As counter-intuitive as that seems, as we often "sleep in" if we've got vacation days spent at home, that once we make up the "sleep debt" we have, we will begin sleeping as long as we need to, but no longer. Nap no longer than an hour, and not after around 3 p.m. Avoid caffeine and nicotine before going to bed. Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol before bed. Some people like a very small glass of wine before bed - 4 oz or less. Take drugs and medications only under your doctor's advice, and discuss it with him or her if the medications are interfering with your sleep. Most people sleep better if they avoid meals for several hours before bed, but a few people seem to sleep better on a full stomach. Some people can go to sleep better with a warm glass of milk before bed. Other people may have to avoid fluids for the last hour or two they are awake so that they stay asleep and do not have to get up to attend calls of nature.

Have the room dark and quiet. Use light-blocking eyeshields if you need to sleep during daylight hours, or darkness is otherwise impossible for you. Have the vicinity quiet. Earplugs may be in order in some instances, but it may be as simple as turning off TVs and radios.

Set an alarm to ensure that you wake up on time, at least until you get through whatever "sleep debt" you may have. You should wake up refreshed, and not be tired throughout the day. To get a good night's sleep that night, engage in some physical exercise or activity. It would be a good idea to discuss this with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimine.

Finally, go to bed and get up at the same time each day. That sounds very simple, but in the complex lives many of us lead, that may not always be possible. If you move your schedule around, it is likely you will create something along the line of chronic jet lag. Of course, the worst of all situations regarding this is shift-work, and rotating-shifts. Those interfere with sleep very significantly!


Book Recommendations



Dealing with irrational fears in children This page is mostly for dealing with children's irrational fears, but some of the ideas can be appropriately modified to use on yourself or with another adult.

Sleep patterns and ADHD in children

Depression in children Considers both conventional medical approaches and an assortment of other methods for prevention and treatment, such as ensuring adequate sleep, nutrition, emotional support, family issues, and so forth.

Effects of sleep deprivation Effects of sleep deprivation, and some possible suggestions.

Sleep deprivation is as dangerous as alcohol impairment This shows how sleep deprivation leads to as many accidents, both on the road and off, as does alcohol impairment.

Residents' sleep deprivation compares to alcohol intoxication "Modern Physician", September 7, 2005

Lack of sleep is America's top health problem, doctors say

30 methods to help you get to sleep Many we've all heard of before, and often tried, and a few that are fairly unique. {Note: Discuss rajas during day for tamas at night, for satva}

Melatonin poses risks

Great list of simple things to do to help your sleep habits and when it's time to see your doctor.

Various methods of holistic and spiritual healing are discussed


Cognitive Methods

Cognitive methods are those done with the mind: Through perceiving, reasoning, or intuition. In general, cognitive methods are those which you can be directly taught, or based in things that you know.

It is knowledge of what is wrong, what that means in your own emotional and mental makeup, and over time, learning what sorts of things need to be done to change it.

This is a concise way of saying these things, but, quite simply, there are books full of what is little more than common sense ways of thinking these things through. Of course, when one's mental and physical energies are going an undesirable direction or have an undesirable type, it may be difficult to back up and apply reason. Feelings are NOT facts, and one has to look at the facts of the situation before running off with the feelings. In short, it's a way to become your own, on-the-spot, "talk therapist".

As it is difficult to be able to become or be able to look from the standpoint of the objective, rational, observer ALL the time, it can be quite useful to have others who can help you work through these cognitive methods. That person can be a licensed therapist, but as that would be prohibitively expensive, and professional credentials are not needed in most instances of everyday life, a support group can be of great use, as can the other members of such a support group. Mutual support is wonderful for matters of this kind. Probably the cognitive techniques that have the greatest number of organized followers are the methods outlined by Dr. Abraham Low, MD, and the organization which continues to support and promote his methods, Recovery, Inc. Another such organization which is primarily for recovery from addictions of whatever type, including food or gambling addictions, is Rational Recovery, which follows a cognitive system of Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT), originating with Jack Trimpey. These support groups are not designed to be for long-term use, however.
There are online support groups for these methods as well.


Book Recommendations


Please Report Broken Links

There are many links on this page and in this site. Unfortunately, I cannot visit these links on a day-to-day basis, and some of them may move or change significantly. If you click on a link that does not work, please do me the favor of reporting the broken link. Thank you.


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