Using the gunas to exit lethargy

Jumpstarting your way out of lethargy
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on June 24, 2014.  Posted with permission. 

You’re trapped. You might be lying sideways on your couch in the dark, eating nachos and surfing hundreds of channels.

You want out of the lethargy. You aren’t someone who needs meds or therapy. You’re not depressed; you’re just sluggish.

Your tamas is out of whack.

There are three powers of nature always at work in your life. From a yogic and Ayurvedic standpoint, they’re the gunas.

The gunas make up all that exists, matter and energy. Tamas is the energy of earth-based stillness, inertia, heaviness, stuff of the physical. Rajas is the life force of motion and activity, fire, change. And, sattva is the highest level of the mind, light and intelligence, serenity. When you are in a sattvic state, the forces of tamas and rajas within you are balanced.

Being continually sattvic is ideal, but it’s also unrealistic. You’re going to have rajasic and tamasic periods. The trick is recognizing the dominant force in your life right now and knowing how to use the gunas to create balance.

Back to that couch. If you are marinating in tamas, step one is to activate rajasic energy. You’ll get off your butt, and you can begin stepping toward sattva.

Move to rajasic music. Turn on the loudest punk rock/screamo you can handle. Rock to “Freebird” or any John Williams movie score. Try Carmen’s Overture or Holst’s “Mars” if you must have classical. Jump up and down on the couch or trampoline or mattress. Yes, now.

It’s not your imagination that you feel like you’re drowning or being dragged under. Tamas dwells in the body’s lower energy centers.

Jumping will help break up that stagnation and reverse energy. Make skipping rope for 1,000 jumps your morning exercise routine. Then do 100 crunches to activate your power center. Take a tandem skydiving jump. Hang upside down from trees.

Food is the next step. The most tamasic food is comfort food. Weight gain is an obvious sign of tamas overload.   If you want off the couch, cut the following from your diet: meat, leftovers, anything overcooked or processed, alcohol and tobacco and all foods that weren’t prepared with love (fast food is a no-no). The more dead the food, the more tamasic it is.

Add some rajasic foods: deep-water fish instead of beef, chicken or pork; stronger spices like cayenne; jalapenos and chili peppers; one cup of black coffee or mate or chai tea; eggs and chocolate.

Keep shaking yourself up. Change jobs. Move. End relationships. Take risks with new ones. Volunteer for a cause that resonates with you. Get off the sidelines.

Dump the black and wear yellow, the color of the third chakra, your core. Enjoy the scent of peppermint essential oil.

Join crowds. Rub up against the throng of humanity in 5Ks, parades or packed shopping malls. Dance in public.

Become a morning person and retreat from the darkness of night. Establish regular sleeping patterns, and refrain from napping. You should fall into bed exhausted every night by 9:00.

Finally, breathe. Work Breath of Fire. Sit and empty your lungs. Breathe in once through your nose and then forcefully snap your abdomen inward to push out puffs of air through your nose one after the other. The inhalation will come naturally in between the belly’s snaps. Aim for 20 quick exhalations.

You’ll be free to reacquaint yourself with your more sattvic side after rajas has airlifted you from the couch. Just get moving.

Nancy B. Loughlin’s next column will appear on July 15.

Nancy B. Loughlin is a writer and yogi in Ft. Myers. She can be reached at NancyLoughlin@Yahoo.com or Twitter @NancyLoughlin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *