Choosing sattva


What you plant is what you will ultimately harvest. Autumn’s transition is a natural time to go within and look at the fields you have been tending. Are these the kinds of crops you want to keep growing?

Each of us has the ability to plant seeds that lead to true health and harmony. Yet with so many distractions inside and out, it can be easy to find yourself stuck and unsure how to shift directions. Simply put: begin where you are. Observe how you got here and then make the conscious choice to point yourself in a different direction if you don’t like the results you’re getting.

​Choosing sattva

When people ask me how they can change their lives, I share the wisdom of the mahagunas. These are three qualities (tamas, rajas and sattva) that are present in everything around us and within. Tamas is downward moving energy. It is inertia, decay and darkness. Tamas is present in a compost pile, in frozen foods or activities that encourage lethargy. 

Rajas is activity, but with too much it creates disturbance. Rajas can be found in stressful or aggressive situations, high adrenaline activities or spicy foods. 

Sattva is balance and harmony. It is the quality of actions, foods and experiences that shine a light on the path to the divine. Sattva is found in calm, peaceful activities that promote harmony within and with the world around. Meditation, mindful asana, eating grounding, high-quality foods and being in acts of service are just a few of the activities that build sattva. 

We need all three of the maha gunas to experience life. Tamas is present in sleep, but too much leads to laziness. Rajas can move you out of tamas and allow you to go about your day, but too much creates anxiety and mental unrest. Cultivate sattva by actively choosing it over excessive tamas and rajas and you will find the the direction of peace. When you walk with sattva, the changes you’d like to see in your life fall into place naturally, over time and with little effort. 

​What choice are you making now?

Most people like to think that they have chosen the high road in decisions they have made. They blame external factors for a life that is out of step with where they would like to be. But when you see the world in terms of cause and effect, or karma, you can see your responsibility for your experience in every situation. 

Bring your awareness to how the law of cause and effect is working in your life, and be honest with what you are doing to contribute to the results you’re getting. Are you experiencing intolerances to certain foods, such as gas after eating legumes? Look deeper. What if these symptoms are caused by your choice to habitually overeat and not by the foods themselves? 

What does it feel like when you sleep in late? How about when you wake before sunrise to meditate? What does it feel like to eat fast food? What about a home cooked meal made with organic ingredients? How do your joints feel when you run five miles? How does that compare to a gentle asana practice at home? What does it feel like when you gossip versus when you acknowledge another person as a reflection of the divine?

Your experience is the result of all the choices you made before now, but the choice you make in this moment is the one that matters. Choose to respond to what is in front of you with sattva, and you will cultivate more of the same. 

​Surrender to sattva

It’s never too late to choose sattva. No matter your age, the state of your health or the choices you made in the past, you have all the power you need right now to take a new direction. 

This is not to say that the act of making sattvic choices is inherently easy. Often you will find yourself going against what others around you are doing. You may find deep resistance within. You may wish for someone to save you from yourself. Even when you make a decision that is in line with the greater good, your ego may fight you until you set it aside and let your divine self lead. 

When this surrender happens and you embrace sattva, you will experience true health, the kind that exists on all levels of being. Your body will function at its optimal levels. Your mind will be strong and stable. You will experience grace in every part of your being. Like a sunrise, sattva is a beam that warms every part of your life.

Plant sattva to harvest sattva. Make space this season to clear the clutter in your internal fields and let this notion guide you. With this, you will be ready for another year of bounty and beauty. 

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