Sattva – spiritual essence, vitality, courage, existence… (long list!)
The simplest way to describe the sattvika nature is ‘pure’. Every single one of us is born sattvik. Then the sanchita karma kicks in and determines whether we retain that or have to work through our vaasanas in the state of rajas or tamas. Regardless of our current state, if we are not already in a sattva-predominant nature, then we can make efforts to reach there.
What is sattva and why would we want to be it? The sattvika personality knows how to be still, how to be quiet. Sattva is cheerful and accepting, content and unperturbed. It can see the troubles of the world but does not carry them. It moves only when necessary, takes only what is required, seeks to return more than was taken. Sattva is capital ‘ell’ Love, it is compassion and able to provide a haven for the hurt and needy. Sattva is serene, watchful, has no desire beyond spiritual gain. Sattva is clear about what is “I” and what is not. It knows how to be in the world but not of it. There is detachment and clarity. We can all find a bit of the sattva within us at times, but to be classed as sattva personality, it needs to be instinctively present.
How do we work towards more sattva in our lives? Less careless living; instead, listening to uplifting music, reading fine literature and philosophy, films which carry a message of high human values. Embracing the quiet; appreciating nature, little moments with friends and family, learning to make appropriate boundaries between work and self-time, keeping better company. Taking up self-improvement; be prepared to self-assess without ego, spend time with ourselves to do that, watch for the excuses as to why not…
Then there is the diet;
- These are foods that are nourishing, soothing and help sharpen the mind, making it more aware and active.
- Sattvik foods are vegetarian and eaten in moderate amounts.
- These are foods that are free of chemicals, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.
- Processed foods generally are to be avoided – these days, there is an argument for the use of frozen items and organic canned goods – but these should be used minimally.
- Organic and fresh fruits and vegetables that have been grown and picked with love. More and more we can source our foods if we don’t grow them ourselves.
- Whole grains, such as buckwheat, barley, rice.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Beans and lentils of the lighter variety; butter beans, broad beans, green beans, peas, moong dal, chana dal etc.
- Dairy products like milk and ghee.
- Oils mostly derived from plants; coconut, mustard, sunflower.
- Foods that are not overly sweet; honey or sugar of minimal processing, such as jaggery.
- Spices which are beneficial for the body and mind; turmeric, cardamom, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, fennel, cumin…
Many will read this and say ‘oh, that is the government standard for healthy living.’ Which is true, many countries now understand the need to eat better quality and less quantity and encourage their citizens to this… but the ayurvedic diet has been around for millennia. Nothing new under the sun!
To be sattvik is to walk upon the earth lightly, to be ahimsa. It is represented in the colour white, in which all colours unify.