Photo courtesy of Kami Stafford

Energies and Gunas

On the main page, I gave a brief overview of energy types as defined by Samkhya, or gunas. In here, I will give examples of people of the various energy types, and ways to change those energies.

Energy Type Definitions

There are numerous things that are included in each of these 3 types of energies. I will give a brief outline of those below.

Satva Rajas Tamas
Light Medium Heavy
Sweet Spicy Fermented
Moving steadily, toward a goal Moves erratically Moves slowly or not at all
Thin Athletic Fat or bulky muscles
Peace and Tranquility Excitement Boring stagnation
Content and calm Elated Sad
Studying Running Sleeping
Playing chess Playing basketball Watching baseball on TV, quietly


Combining Gunas for Desired Results

From the above table, it should be at least somewhat apparent to you which type of energy you've got an excess of, and which you want or need. In general, one wants a contented satva, but in some cases one may want or need rajas or even tamas, for a particular purpose.

When you have an excess of one and need another, the way to get it is to add the third. Unfortunately, this is a typical mistake made. For instance, if someone is too rushed and harried, they wish some contentment. Often, they will try for contentment by trying to jump in and get something that appears to add contentment. This can be anything from the addition of meditation into their daily routine, to adding more spirituality, to setting time aside to try to get closer to their family, to deliberately trying to get organized, and on and on. Any of these methods are doomed to failure. Adding satva to rajas yields tamas! Instead of getting the peaceful satva the person wants, instead it becomes boring and it puts them to sleep. They stop doing it, or may stop doing anything or everything! Tamas has been introduced.

It's easy to see that if one is sad and lethargic, that it is not good to just "sit around and feel sorry for onesself". If a friend were sitting around sad and lethargic, you would encourage the person to get up and do something. You might take them with you to get them to do something. In this case, it's the addition of rajas (movement) to tamas (stagation) that is creating the desired state of satvic contentment.

To gain satva from a rushed, harried state, you must deliberately include tamas. It is easier than it sounds. It may be as simple as being overworked and overstressed can be combatted by taking a nap, and waking up refreshed. From there, do something peaceful, content, and loving with one's family and loved ones.


Methods used on this site

As the main focus of this site is food, let's talk about what would be good to FEED a person in either the lethargic or the harried state, in order to return them to contentment.

First, let's looked at the rushed, stressed harried person. This person is all too typical in today's world, from their job, from taking care of children, from various demands placed upon them, from traffic, and on and on. This is made worse by the whole concept of "play hard" to counteract "work hard". Yes, indeed, it may be of use in a directly physical sense when the physical activity of the "play" counteracts the stressful mental activities of work. On another level, it's more of the same. The person is no doubt driven and competitive through their work, and adding more drive and competition through play just adds to that sort of problem. To get them out of this rajavic spiral, tamas must be added. In short, all of this "hard" work and play must be counterbalanced with an appropriate amount of rest.

As far as what to feed such a person, the answer would be to introduce more tamasic food, or a mixture of food which yields tamas. The simple way would take a person who has been working and playing hard all day and to give them a steak and a beer! That would help them relax. Granted, the whole set up there is unlikely to be the best for their overall health over a long period of time. In short, the person has to "slow down and smell the roses".


Other Means of Balancing Energies

Everyone has times of feeling up and in an elevated mood, and other times of feeling in a low mood. These are not pathological by any means. They are just part of the human condition! This would indeed be a boring world if we had no moods and no emotions that effected us in any way. However, those moods may, at times, cause us to do things that are not otherwise good for us, and our rational (satvic) mind knows we must not do. This would include various things we do that hurt other people we care about, spending of money, doing things that are too reckless for our own taste, and so forth. This is a preponderance of rajavic energy, but it is unlikely that you can control it through balancing the gunas through diet alone, although it will almost surely help.

I know of several other means to do this. Some of them are described on this next page, or in pages to which I link.

Advanced Means of Balancing Mental and Physical Energies


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