Greeting & Namaste friends,
Happy September! I don't know about you, but I am excited for Mother Earth's transition to autumn and Vata season. I've definitely been enjoying the cooler early morning & evening weather--I even had a couple nights that I was able to turn off the AC and open up the windows. For any of you that have seen me these last couple weeks, you've probably noticed I've been walking around with my trusty pink flannel--growing up in NY & CT kids would wear their PJs inside out in hopes of a snow day, so I'm hoping that getting my flannel out will bring on the crisp fall air! As vata dosha increases in nature, be sure to start including more vata pacifying practices in your daily routine--especially if you have vata in your prakriti!
This month's newsletter is the final installment of a 5-part exploration into the energetic intersections of the doshas & chakras. We'll explore the mind, Ajna and Sahasrara chakras, and the pituitary and pineal glands!
The mind, or manas, is a special part of us human beings; is the seat of consciousness, the intellect and the ego. All three doshas share the mind space, affecting their various qualities on a person's psychological experiences. In addition, not only is the mind affected by the three doshas, but mind is also affected by the three gunas.
Meaning "quality," the Sanskrit word guna is a concept that not only conveys certain metaphysical & energetic qualities, but also psychological & emotional qualities. Everything in nature--including us human beings--contains all three gunas, just like the doshas. Furthermore, just like the doshas, the gunas exist in different combinations and have an effect on how something or someone behaves. Sattva guna is a harmonious energy, Rajas guna is a reactive energy, and Tamas guna is a destructive energy.
"The gunas indicate the mental traits respectively of clarity, distraction and dullness," says David Frawley & Suhas Kshirsagar. "They show the sensitivity of the mind, its capacity to perceive truth and act according to it."
Sattva bestows a harmonious quality of mental clarity, awakened consciousness and clear perception. Because of this, sattva is a divine nature that elevates a human beings propensity for Self-awareness.
Rajas is an agitated mental quality that causes distraction, frustration or--in excess circumstances--even violence. Rajas leads people to live in the Ego and seek out external fulfillment. Since rajas encourages selfish desires and personal power as the ultimate life goals, it can enable manipulative, controlling and prideful behavior in people.
Tamas is a quality of dullness, and, in the mind, creates clouded perception, ignorance and fear. Negative thoughts & emotions, minimal mental focus and attachment to the external world are manifestations of tamas. Due to the darkened state-of-being this guna creates, it leads humans to resist positive changes and be preoccupied in their basic animal nature such as food, sleep, sex & survival.
"Pure sattva affords enlightenment and Self-realization. A pure rajas type can be very successful in the outer world but lacks inner awareness and sensitivity," Says Frawley & Kshirsagar. "A pure tamas type is caught in darkness and inertia that can lead to incapacity and additions."
Just like we have--and need--all three doshas balanced in our body, so we need all three gunas to keep us positive in life, motivated in an activity and bring us down to sleep at night. However, uplifting sattva guna and living a sattvic lifestyle leads to a healthy mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Living and behaving rajasic will inevitably lead to a tamasic state-of-being. According to Frawley & Kshirsagar,
"Our culture today is very rajasic--highly distracted, disturbed, hyperactive and over stimulated. Some rajasic traits within us may be owing to outer circumstances rather than being indicative of our own inner disposition. Yet excess rajas leads to tamas, just as excess activity leads to exhaustion. After our excessive activity, we often fall into states of low energy, inertia and depression. For this reason, tamas often prevails at the end of our hectic lives."
Not only is living a sattvic lifestyle good for our overall well-being, but cultivating sattva guna allows for the unblocking and balancing of the two chakras that exist in the region of the head: Ajna and Sahasrara.
The sixth chakra is the third-eye center of Ajna. Meaning "command," this chakra is the seat of the discerning mind, illuminating wisdom and individual consciousness, thus beyond the earthly five elements. According to Swami Maheshwarananda Ajna chakra is also known as the “Guru Chakra" or "the seat of the Master.” The very word Guru means "from darkness to light" so a Guru is a master who guides students from "darkness," representing ignorance or tamas, to "light," representing knowledge or sattva.
"When the 'Guru Principle' has been awakened in the consciousness of the [student] and the [student] begins to guide himself, the [student] then becomes his own master," says Swami Maheshwarananda. "The Guru Principle is recognisable within a person as clarity, wisdom and the ability to discriminate between truth and untruth, reality and unreality."
It may be of no surprise that Ajna chakra, aka, the "Master chakra," is connected to the "Master gland." The pituitary earns its nickname as the "Master" because it controls most other glands in the endocrine system. According to the Merck Manual, "By detecting the levels of hormones produced by glands under the pituitary's control (target glands)...the pituitary can determine how much stimulation the target glands need."
Sahasrara chakra is the seventh and final chakra to discuss, located at the crown of the head. In fact, Sahasrara means "thousand-petaled lotus," and serves as the link to universal Divine consciousness. Bringing awareness to the Sahasrara takes dedication and patience; self-study and self-realization; devotion (bhakti) and surrender (ishvara pranidhana) to the Divine Grace.
"The awakening of the Sahasrāra Chakra means revelation of the Divine Splendour and attainment of Supreme Consciousness," says Swami Maheshwaranda. When the the crown chakra is realized, the yogi experiences Sat Chit Ananda; the divine consciousness of truth and bliss.
Both the third eye and crown chakras respond positively to chanting the sound of OM, visualizing the symbol of OM and meditating on the vibration of OM. Try including this as an easy 10-minute meditation every morning for 40 days and notice what happens.
Physiologically, Sahasrara is linked the pineal gland, a very small (1/3") organ deep in the center of the brain near the corpus callosum. The complete functioning of the pineal is still slightly unknown, but it is known that it's a photoreceptive organ (responds to light), it modulates the seasonal and circadian rhythms of your sleep cycle by releasing the hormone melatonin, and it helps to regulate certain female reproductive hormones.
When we're about to fall asleep, our mental activity slows down and the brain's bandwidth frequency slows, too. The same thing happens when we move into deep meditation. However, when we purposefully place ourselves in this waking-sleep state of calm release, profound experiences are possible that words cannot describe. In this space between worlds, the practiced yogi merges with the infinite and the thousand-petaled lotus blooms in the pure light of creation.
Everyone already has this pure spark of light within them, yet it gets dimmed out by layers of karmic impressions that cloud our clear perception. This karmic fog leaves us clinging, distracted, fearful, prideful, deluded and ignorant in the dark. However, it's never too late to start living with care and intention in order to elevate your consciousness! An easy step you can take is to start living a sattvic lifestyle; this benefits not only Sahasrara and Ajna chakras, but the entire chakra system. In addition, cultivating sattva guna balances the three doshas' influence on the mind-body.
Overall, the three gunas interplay with the doshas to create the subtle nuances of your personality and behavioral traits. There are Sattvic vata/ pitta/ kapha behaviors just as there are Rajasic vata/ pitta/ kapha and Tamasic vata/ pitta/ kapha behaviors. Diving into the qualitative intersection of the gunas and the doshas can further your subtle understanding of the intersecting energies within you. By understanding our underlying positive and/or negative behaviors we can start to link them to our physiological health and well-being, and being to bridge the mind-body fissure our modern society can create.
I hope this 5-part series has been an illuminating read for you just as much as it has been an illuminating experience for me to write it. Next month I'm going to take a break from my newsletter to work on my musical project Velophonix and have a new Electronica Sound Bath booked for autumn, so please stay tuned! I'll still send out a short & sweet note to everyone with a couple healthy recipes for vata season, but I'll start a new in-depth newsletter series in November or December.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about how to live a more sattivc lifestyle, please email me! Including an integral system of yoga, meditation and ayurveda will guide you on your path elevated, conscious living.
As we grow in our consciousness.. there will be more compassion and more love. And then… the barriers between people.. between religions.. and between nations will begin to fall.
~ Ram Dass
I'm delighted to announce that I have a radically new schedule starting THIS MONTH that includes new yoga classes at Royal Massage & Yoga Lounge in Murfreesboro & Yogasoul in Nashville, and relaunching yoga at the Vanderbilt Black Cultural Center for Fall 2019!
In addition, I have teamed up with the wonderful new company Veda Warrior to share their products and passion as we amp up to product launch in October! Veda Warrior believes that effective, personalized stress management is the key to sustainable health and happiness. America is facing a cultural epidemic of chronic stress, which has now become one of the leading causes of disease in the country. We believe that the most efficient way to solve this problem is to democratize ancient knowledge on mind-body wellness that has guided humanity for thousands of years. Follow our journey and learn more about Veda Warrior's mission, ancient connections of cannabis and yoga/meditation, plant based medicine, Ayurveda
Last, please join me on Saturday Sept 28th at Royal Massage & Yoga Lounge in Murfreesboro for an Intro to Ayurveda workshop! Explore the basics of Ayurvedic wellness, learn easy self-care techniques you can start using today and discover how to introduce ayurvedic meal planning into your diet.