Happy spring, belated happy women’s day, and warm greetings.
Spring is finally at our door, and with it the excitement of re-emergence, re-newal, and possible re-opening of our societies. We feel spring and its expansive energy all around us, from the vivid bird songs early in the morning to the increased number of parks and forest visitors.
I don’t know how you feel about spring, but for me spring has always been one of my favorite times of the year. At the same time, for the first time in a few years, I just spent a quiet winter – like many of us – not traveling and staying mostly in the countryside where I discovered the joys of a Danish winter. A slow rhythm where it’s OK to pause, go to bed early, and not do much. Especially the “not do much” is getting challenged as spring extends the hours of sunlight, inviting me to extend my capacities too.
Of course, only in “winter mode” all the time and we get stuck, lazy, inert. Only in “spring mode” all the time and we get busy, active, and feel the need to be productive all the time. The truth, and simultaneously the challenge, is that we need both, or more precisely we need to find and maintain the balance between the two: rest and action, time to pause and time to act. The old yogic texts talk about three qualities that lay behind every being and everything in the manifest world: the “3 gunas” – Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva (from the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita).
Tamas depicts what is heavy, slow or immobile, dark and tends to become sluggish or passive. We experience too much Tamas when we feel overtired, depressed, lost, apathic, lazy, intoxicated or when we eat too heavy or fat of a meal.
Rajas depicts a heated, rapid, dry, light, sometimes hectic and angry quality. We experience an excess of Rajas when we overstimulate or -distract ourselves with an excess of computer or phone time, eat very spicy or dry food, get addicted to caffeine or other simulating substances, act out our anger, talk excessively without pausing, want to control everything and others in our life, or find ourselves trapped in recurring thoughts or drama.
Sattva, then, is characterized as the quality of balance and peace. It refers to an experience of harmony when the equilibrium between healthy rajas and healthy tamas is achieved and maintained. We experience Sattva when we take time to take care of ourselves, hygiene, exercises, balance solo and social time, work and play, effort and surrender.
The old sages taught us, already thousands of years ago, about the benefits of a practice such as yoga or meditation to cultivate Sattva and help us return to it, so that eventually excess of Tamas and Rajas become less and less. Sattva, or we could say harmony, balance and peace, are states that actually depict our true nature. In other words, we are wired for inner peace.
Our world, as it has for thousands of years, challenges us by exposing us and alluring us in states of Tamas and Rajas, away from Sattva; hence the necessity to find and do a practice that help us return to Sattva, a state of balance, and let it take more space in our everyday life, actions, emotions, and thoughts.
Maybe you have noticed that meditation or yoga has brought you to a more Sattvic state. This is the state where peace can arise by itself, and so can joy. Our modern, everyday life, and the current necessity to use our devices almost daily makes it hard for us to “live” in a Sattvic state. Although device-free, the old yogis knew about the mental, social, and physical urges and challenges that brought us humans out of balance, and this is why they were teaching such practices as yoga and meditation.
The more I practice (and the older I get!), and the more I realize and understand how doing “my work” is actually the greatest help I can give the world. In the last meditation series I offered online, one participant reported to me how the practice we did together and that they started implementing in their life truly changed their view of their daily lives. Especially they noticed more ease as to how they dealt with conflicts, observing their thoughts before acting them out, and used the practices to navigate challenges at work.
So even if the thought of meditating everyday makes you already tired or overwhelmed, you can cultivate Sattva in your life in simple ways. Here are three suggestions:
- Every morning, when you wake up in bed, take 5 deep breaths down to your belly, and follow the journey of the breath all the way in and out again.
- In the shower, take 3 to 5 deep breath, one hand on your belly.
- On your phone’s home screen, set a background picture that reminds you to pause or breathe each time you see it. I designed the following picture for you to save and use, if you like it 🙂 (a picture I took a few months ago in Kulhuse here in Denmark)
Just pick one of the three and try it for a week. Let me know how it works! Even better, ask your partner, family member or friend to do the same and share about your experience after a week.
If you are curious about meditation, here are two meditation guides from the last two meditation series we did this year. It is free and for you to use:
- Breath and grounding (16 min)
- Working with thoughts (12 min)
And if you feel like going a little deeper, join us for a new meditation series starting this Sunday, March 14th, Inner Presence, Inner Balance. We will explore and learn ways to establish and maintain balance and “sattva” in the physical, emotional, and mental realms. Everyone is welcome, new beginners and experienced meditators alike. Read more and register here.
After each session, you will get a recording of the class + a couple of audio guides for you to practice. And as a bonus to the series , you will get 2 short yoga classes to prepare your body before you sit for meditation – or just to cultivate Sattva anytime you want to.
I hope to see you soon and perhaps Sunday already. Take good care, and I send many blessings your way for inner peace and a sattvic mind!