Tamas

Sometimes there are periods of silence, a heavy silence of the mind. The words don’t flow. The thoughts stay inert. Tamas. It’s been a while since the guna has been sitting inside. Below is an entry I had started more than a month ago. It doesn’t seem that odd now to see how long I’ve ‘sat’ on this.

2nd Dec 2016

Tamas is heavy, dark, dull, sluggish, reluctant to move and so on. Almost all negative connotations. Yet, it is very much a part of the trigunas, swirling in constant rearrangement. The endeavour in Spiritual practices is to sublimate tamas to sattva and then go beyond the gunas. 

Lately, the pages have been opening to the gunas and tamas cropped up a few times. It got me thinking about the purpose of the heavy guna. Perhaps, its manifestation is what I see in my mental makeup lately. I notice that food is one of the easiest ways to change the composition of the gunas. Movement is harder but that’s another thing that works. I’ve been getting plenty of movement with back to back runs but not the mindful kind that energises. The two classes sandwiched between the runs during the week are intense and my legs are heavy. Tamasic. I do have the tools to change the composition but tamas plays its devious role, preventing restorative action. It’s a vicious circle, one that is unfamiliar in recent times. 

The gunas provide the answer for why. It appears simple on the surface and at times sounds like excuses. But, below the apparent simplicity lies a detailed map of existence. What would the planet be if there was no tamas? Imagine the ground beneath in constant flux or just beams of light. 
Guna means rope or that which binds. The strength of a rope is dependent on the twisting of the strands. In balance, it is sturdy. The fluctuations start when the strands are not twisted equally. 

In the past few weeks, I have been feeling the tug of heaviness. It crept up slowly and before I knew it, took over my life. Inertia, apathy, lethargy make it difficult to do anything beyond the absolute essentials. On the outside, I still get by but I miss the lightness and agility of my mind. Despite knowing what to do, I remain ignorant and unable to change at present. It seems like a herculean task to get back on track.

The only saving grace is the tiny bit of reading that happens in the morning. Asana practice is also erratic but strangely, the poses look better now and feel more stable. Even when I don’t practice, I still check if ardha chandrasana happens or try repeating the trikonasana actions while waiting in the kitchen. It’s not by fluke but for real when I can stay steady for a bit. Does that count? Perhaps not but for a little while, I feel good. The body tingles with life coursing through.

The Bhagawad Geeta 3:31

This morning’s reading was on karma yog and the answer was literally handed to me. Action is the magic word. So, action it was today. A quick trip to the flower market to buy some flowers, coffee with a dear friend, a productive day at work, a short run, an inversion practice, writing, chores and reading. 

Some of my observations from these past few weeks.

  • Ever since I got back to using deos which happened during my travelling and never got off, I started to get PMS symptoms again. Just a couple of days off and the tenderness has reduced dramatically. 
  • Knocking off the sugar from my coffee today seemed to have lifted the fog in my head. 
  • My food habits also got out of it’s settled rhythm and never been quite the same. I was eating more than I needed due to various reasons. I stopped being firm in refusing what I didn’t want.
  • Compared to a few months back, there has been more engagement with people too. It can be draining if I haven’t taken care of all aspects of my self. 
  • I need study, regular and intensive study to keep going. Just a line or two doesn’t suffice. 
  • It takes a long while of small changes to build a new habit yet disruption is rapid.

This is a post I didn’t want to put up but it is part of the experience as well. Perhaps in sharing about my struggles, I may find the freedom to endeavour again. Somewhere, the tenacious runner in me digs in her heels to fall seven times but get up, eight. Tamas needs tapas.

Hari Om