Understanding the 3 Gunas

Understanding the three gunas can help you gain control of negative thoughts & achieve balance & peace. Here’s a helpful introduction…

When it comes to yoga philosophy, yoga recognizes three different qualities or types of energy, called gunas – a Sanskrit word meaning “quality, attribute, or tendency”. These three primary qualities make up all of the essential building blocks of the world around us, including energy, matter, and consciousness. The goal of the yogi is to understand these gunas and work with them in our daily lives in order to reduce stress, increase inner peace, and ultimately, progress towards enlightenment.

The three primary gunas are known as Tamas (darkness and chaos), Rajas (activity and passion), and Sattva (awareness and harmony). According to this article, “Cultivating the ability to identify and understand the nature of the gunas brings us closer to seeing the universal truth of oneness.”

Each of these gunas are present in varying forms in the world around us. As humans, we have the awareness to be able to consciously work with and act upon these gunas to improve various aspects of our lives through our lifestyle practices, activities, and thought patterns.

Here are some of the primary qualities and attributes of each guna:

Tamas is a state of darkness, inertia, inactivity, and materiality. Tamas manifests from ignorance and deludes all beings from their spiritual truths. Other tamasic qualities are laziness, disgust, attachment, depression, helplessness, doubt, guilt, shame, boredom, addiction, hurt, sadness, apathy, confusion, grief, dependency, ignorance.

Rajas is a state of energy, action, change, and movement. The nature of rajas is of attraction, longing and attachment and rajas strongly bind us to the fruits of our work. Other rajasic qualities are anger, euphoria, anxiety, fear, irritation, worry, restlessness, stress, courage, rumination, determination, chaos.

Sattva is a state of harmony, balance, joy, and intelligence. Sattva is the guna that yogis achieve towards as it reduces rajas and tamas and thus makes liberation possible. Other sattvic qualities are delight, happiness, peace, wellness, freedom, love, compassion, equanimity, empathy, friendliness, focus, self-control, satisfaction, trust, fulfillment, calmness, bliss, cheerfulness, gratitude, fearlessness, selflessness.

Our mind’s primary guna can change from day to day, and helps determine how we view the world. For example, if you are experiencing the Rajas guna, you may see the world as chaotic, confusing, and challenging. On the other hand, from a sattvic state of mind, you may approach life with balance and purpose. Therefore, the yogi’s goal is always to work towards achieving Sattva through consciously shifting one’s thoughts and actions towards sattvic energy. The ultimate goal is to transcend all three of the gunas, and achieve a state of non-attachment to either the good or the bad in life.

Read more about how to cultivate balance and work with the three gunas at YogaBasics.com


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