It's funny that everyone thinks Ayurveda is all about food, because in my opinion, Ayurveda is all about the Mind !
Just like we can look at the body through the qualities of its constitution (ie its physical characteristics), we can assess Manas Prakriti, the state of the Mind, and look at the characteristics used to describe it. It often fluctuates, it can go to extremes, but there are also practical tools Ayurveda gives us to help it come back in balance.
A sattvic mind feel content and grounded. It’s easily focused, is gentle, clear and can make decisions from a place of anchored knowing.
Sattva is a subtle essence, a subtle energy, where we feel at ease and peaceful and live life from that place. To know that Sattva can be our home base is a game changer, because it can inform decisions we make throughout the day (food, activities, pace, schedule, people) to cultivate movement toward a sattvic mind.
A rajasic mind is easily triggered and is in movement, often in forward movement (what’s next ? and after that ? what else ???). There’s a lot of passion and doing, which in excess can be destructive and harmful. A rajasic mind can’t feel peaceful and grounded, because it’s too busy figuring things out, analyzing situations and outcomes, and moving from one thing to take care of to the next.
Rajas is not necessarily a harmful energy, it’s especially useful to move from a place of inertia (Tamas) to a place of clarity and alignment (Sattva). We need that movement, that momentum, that desire and flame, especially when its aim is greater awareness and connection. It becomes a problem for our well being when we’re stuck in it, and it’s the only way we know how to operate: from a fiery place of doing, accomplishing, reaching goals.
A tamasic mind is characterized by the inability to act and inertia. We may want change and have ideas, but nothing concrete happens.
There’s a heaviness, a lethargy, a lack of capacity that manifests when Tamas is in excess. It’s a place that is closed to growth, change and abundance, where we don’t see very far and may be stuck in all kinds of dark emotions: sadness, grief, hopelessness, resentment, guilt, jealousy etc.
Tamas may be an antidote for Rajas, and the other way around, but these 2 won’t get us very far, or at least not to a place of contentment and steadiness. While this may be okay for a while, it’s also a place where not much happens, and it can bring great dissatisfaction overtime if that’s how we operate on a regular basis.
These states fluctuate, and we experience them all, but let’s remember we don’t have to experience big fluctuations, and constant fluctuations. Ayurveda and Yoga have tools to support us to live well.