Repost: Towards Clarity
Two years ago when I was going through Ayurveda school, I wrote this reflection on the class material regarding the three gunas and states of psychospirituality. Since we will be diving into the three gunas as part of our exploration of Yoga and Ayurveda on the 31st as part of our Balanced Living program, I thought it would be a great time to revisit this. If you find this content relatable, always feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!
Originally written for my blog The Art of Being Nothing on January 31st, 2019.
I revisit this time and time again, because when I have moments of clarity and I find myself taking action to fulfill on my higher purpose, things just seem to happen magically and naturally, with everything in synchronicity.
I’m not talking about superficial wants here – I’m referring to the highest yearning of the soul to fulfill on its purpose. In The Alchemist, Coelho is referring to a person’s decision to follow in pursuit of his or her own personal destiny. This decision requires a clear mind and unshakeable faith because there are challenges one must go through in order to learn the lessons that need to be learned for one to become the person that achieves his personal destiny. At the core, it is about transformation and transcendence.
It feels like no accident that this past week was the week that we started exploring the world of Ayurvedic Psychology in class. In the past, reading a textbook was mildly interesting at best, boring torture most other times. Reading through this week I felt like a Muggle discovering a book of magic spells.
Over the course of my life, I’ve spent more time questioning reality, being unsettled, unsatisfied with the norm, and searching than I have being happy and content. Never satisfied with myself, I’ve put myself under self-improvement effort after self-improvement effort, whether through development programs, school, or even dance lessons. Underneath this effort was a whole lot of frustration at myself, never understanding why I never measured up to my own perception of others’ expectations. Little did I realize that these frustrations felt were the growing pains of the soul as it starts to uncover the clarity underneath all the superficial dramas of life.
In Ayurvedic Psychology, we can assess the stage of a person’s psychospiritual development by looking at the state of his/her personal field of consciousness. We operate under the premise that a soul is born with the same state of consciousness (“guna” in Sanskrit) as he/she left the previous life with. The soul evolves spiritually in one direction towards clarity and Self-realization. Even if you don’t believe in multiple lives, you can look at this evolution within the microcosm of a single lifetime: we are born ignorant and in darkness, not knowing anything. This state of consciousness is called tamas. A tamasic person tends to look at things as black and white, good and bad. Focus on life is superficial and there is no desire to know or awareness of reality outside of the one they currently experience. People in this state tend to consume food that is stale or processed and consume media without concern about its effects on the body and mind. Things are either right or wrong, there’s no questioning of how that evaluation of wrong or right came to be.
At some point in life, a person will likely come across challenges. Some events that make them question the way things are and the way things are supposedly supposed to be. People here are in the state of rajas, or turbulence. They are constantly distracted by the dramas of life and tend to keep very busy by traveling a lot. They keep themselves stimulated through pungent foods, stimulants, and other sensory stimulation. People who are evolving through the rajasic state towards higher states of clarity tend to be very conflicted people. They know that there is access to a more peaceful existence, but it’s very difficult to go back to being in a state of “ignorance is bliss.” As my textbook so perfectly states, they get “caught up in the drama of self-improvement.”
When I read that line, it hit me like a bus. I realized I have been in deep rajasic turbulence for years. I’ve moved across continents multiple times in the past decade. I’ve had multiple (albeit interesting and exciting) careers in dance, education, and tourism. For most of my life I have tended to question declared realities, making my mind churn increasingly more violently as I got older and experienced more. I’ve been so unhappy with myself because I believed that if all of the drama in this life had an answer or resolution, I seemed incapable of figuring out what it is.
This past year I dove into the world of meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda. It gave me access to a newfound sense of calm and clarity. And yet, when outside of the practices, I would continually find myself in distress and turbulence as I kept getting pulled into the pressures of success, achievement, survival, and self-improvement.
The highest state of psychosocial spiritual development is something called sattva. It is characterized by calmness, clarity, and contentment. People in a sattvic state no longer feel the need to entertain life’s dramas because they know that there is something beyond that that allows all beings to coexist in peace. It takes discipline to reach this state – meditation, yoga, healthy practices such as those taught in Ayurveda, spending time with nature, maintaining clean environments – especially in a world where everyone else is running around like chickens without heads chasing pleasure, avoiding pain, or pursuing the illusion of success.
I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve slipped into the mindset of “Oh, I want that job” or “Oh, I need to work harder to make it work!”, “Oh, I gotta post on social media more!” just because other people were doing the same around me, telling me that’s what I also need to do to be happy. When you get caught up in all of that, you lose the time and space to remember to take care of your well-being. To slow down. To eat consciously. All of the practices that would keep you on the path to clarity and true freedom.
In my recent experience with yoga nidra and now after reading the class content on psychospiritual development, I feel like things are once again aligning and conspiring for me to be pushed further along my path. But it took me discovering my true commitment and love for myself. It took realizing that it is not an option to provide yourself ample space to create newly and to refresh your mind, body, and soul – it is a requirement. Without creating space for clarity, you risk grasping blindly at straws for the needle-in-the-haystack that is your true highest purpose.
If you are feeling frustrated or stuck, feel free to reach out any time. I want to know that you are there. Know that I am here for you too.