THE THREE GUNAS (QUALITIES)
Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
Nature has three qualities or gunas. These are called sattva, rajas and tamas.
All material nature is made up the interplay of three energies or "gunas". The gunas are a great map for navigating your way through life. When you can recognize which of these energies is at play in your life, it makes it so much easier to bring about a state of balance. Part of the work of yoga is to go beyond the limitation of seeing life as forms and concepts, and to see the underlying qualities of things.
These three inseparable qualities exist simultaneously in all of matter, all the time. All three remain together, although at any given time, one of these qualities predominates over the other two.
Each quality has its own characteristics. Since both the external world and the internal world of the mind are made of matter, the qualities of the three gunas are seen in both.
For example, in the external world we see:
Sattva -- equilibrium and serenity
Rajas -- dynamism and movement
Tamas -- inertia and stagnancy
In the internal world of the mind, these are experienced as:
Sattva -- Purity, compassion, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, comprehension, recognition, generosity, patience, kindness
Rajas -- Desire, anger, attachment, greed, possessiveness, envy, jealousy , hyperactivity, agitation, fear, nervousness, anxiety, aggressiveness, competitiveness, power, prestige, name and fame
Tamas -- Impurity, dullness, , delusion, confusion, depression, stupor, unconsciousness.
Rajas: Generally: is a passionate, frenetic, creative, tumultuous energy.
People that are rajasic are full of desire, thirsting for worldly enjoyment, and even at more extreme ends of the scale, fueled by competition and ambitiousness. The Sanskrit root means "impure". It is also related to the root rakta, "redness". And raga, "passion." If you think of living in a bright red room or a woman wearing a red dress, you can feel the energy of Rajas.
Food that is Rajasic is quite stimulating (often times over stimulating). Egg, spicy, sour, acid foods like coffee, hot peppers, onions and so on. If you find yourself eating really quickly too, this too can be rajasic. If you have ever been to a big smorgasbord and eaten way too many combinations of food, you would have belly will be feeling the effect of Rajas Guna
Tamas: Tamas is dull, insensible, gloomy and dark energy. The Sanskrit word literally means "darkness, dark-blue, black".
People that are tamasic are gloomy, sluggish, dull and blinded by greed. Sometimes people who are tamasic can be characterized as lazy and slothful. If you spend the night drinking tequila in Margarita ville, the next morning you will find yourself deep in the heart of Tamasic ville On the darker end of the tamasic scale, they can be unconscious of the needs others, dark and destructive.
Food that is Tamasic is stale, under or over ripe. Heavy meats. Canned, reheated or fermented foods. Eating too much is Tamasic.
Sattva: Sattva is a calm, peaceful and clear energy. The Sanskrit word is based on the principle "Sat" or "being, as it should be, perfect"
People that are Sattvic are calm, centered, compassionate and unselfish.
Food that is Sattvic is nourishing & easy to digest. Cereals, Fresh Fruit, Pure Water, Veggies, Milk, Yogurt.
One of the factors that influences the strength of the guna that predominates in your mind is your karma from past lives. But because the mind has an adoptive nature, it is strongly affected by the quality of your environment, associations, sense perceptions and by the quality of the food you eat.