As we mentioned, the gunas don't just apply to food. They are qualities that can be applied to the universe in general. The mind is made up of these three states. Tamas is dullness, lassitude, and constancy. Rajas is activity and agitation. Sattva is clarity, tranquillity, and compassion. These three states also represent the three states of personal evolution: first the mind is dull, then it becomes active, and then, ideally, it finds true compassion.
The wild activity of rajas is considered on a higher plane than the inert tamas, because without activity, one cannot reach compassion (sattva). Most people swing around from quality to quality, experiencing each at different points in their lives, even throughout the day. However, one aspect is usually dominant in each person's personality.
Yes, one of these qualities is probably dominant in you. Knowing which is your type can help you to balance yourself. If you're a typical rajas-natured Westerner, for example, you can consciously minimize or eliminate rajasic food from your diet, replacing it with sattvic food. You'll probably notice a distinct difference in the way you feel—calmer, clearer, and less agitated.
Not sure which type you are? Take this mini-quiz to get a better picture of yourself:
1. If I'm feeling under a lot of stress, I'll be most likely to ...
a. Go take a nap. At least I'll be able to forget about it all for a while.
b. Pace back and forth, worrying and wasting time.
c. Analyze why I'm under stress and make a plan to deal with it.
a. Centered around my food addictions: caffeine, sugar, or salt. Meals are really important to me because I have to have my food! It would be very difficult for me to give up any food I love.
b. Very irregular. I grab a bite of whatever is handiest when I have the time. Sometimes I forget to eat or am so stressed out that I eat way too much without realizing it.
c. Healthy, well-balanced, with lots of fruits and vegetables. Not a big fan of meat.
3. In my personal relationships, I tend to be ...
a. The passive one.
b. The dominant one.
c. Fairly equal with the others in my life.
If you answered mostly As, you're probably tamas-natured. You'd rather lie on the couch than go for a jog; you tend to get addicted to pleasurable things like sugar, cigarettes, or coffee; and you have a hard time getting things done. You may have difficulty getting yourself into a habit of practicing yoga postures, but yoga will be of great benefit to you, revving up your system, increasing your energy level, and giving you the get-up-and-go you need to get through the day.
If you answered mostly Bs, you're probably rajas-natured. You're typically overwrought, excited, anxious, or agitated. You get a lot done and fast, but you have a hard time relaxing and quieting your mind. For you, meditation is a real challenge, but you could really use the skill of being able to calm that overactive mind of yours. If you suffer from insomnia, regular yoga practice can help you sleep. In fact, regular practice of anything is good for the impetuous and routine-resistant ra/as-natured.
If you answered mostly Cs, you tend to be sattvic-natured. You adhere to the sensible notion of moderation in many aspects of your life, and the yogic lifestyle will probably be relatively easy for you to adopt. You find a sense of peace in yoga postures, you find meditation enjoyable, and you already follow the yogic diet without even intending to! In fact, you may wonder why you haven't discovered yoga before now.
Feeling stressed out? Gently heat one cup of low-fat milk on the stove or in the microwave. Pour it into a mug and add one tablespoon of honey and a pinch of dried ginger. Stir, find a comfy seat, and relax. Sip slowly. Ahhhhh! Don't drink milk? Cut a two-inch slice of fresh gingerroot, peel it, and slice it into disks. Put it in the bottom of a mug or cup, and pour boiling water over it. Let it steep for about five minutes, then remove the ginger. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey. Mmmm!
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There's no magic bullet that will make you slim down without trying. No particular diet that lets you eat a big amount of food and drop pounds quickly. No ab-machine or exercise bike that you see at three fifteen in the morning on an infomercial is truly going to make that much difference to you.