"Food is a dynamic force which interacts with the human on the physical body level, the mind emotional level, and also the energetic and spiritual level. The study of nutrition is the study of the interaction with and assimilation of the dynamic forces of food by the dynamic forces of our total being." | Gabriel Cousens, M.D. | Spiritual Nutrition
A Life Enhancing Diet to Balance the Mind
WHAT IS A SATTVIC DIET?
In Ayurveda the emphasize is on a Sattvic diet for healthy living, particularly for keeping our minds clear, happy and at peace. The original Sattvic diet was devised for the development of higher consciousness.
Sattvic foods are foods that are abundant in Prana- the universal life-force that gives life to all sentient beings in both plant and animal kingdoms. a Sattvic diet means not only vegetarian food, but food rich in Prana 'life-force like organic fresh fruits and vegetables. it requires avoiding canned and processed food, and foods prepared with chemical fertilizers or sprays. It also means properly prepared fresh foods. Foods prepared with lots of love will add to their Sattvic quality.
The ancient Ayurvedic criteria for foods to be considered Sattvic were quite simple: foods were grown organically on good rich fertile soil; foods were to be of attractive appearance, and be harvested at the correct time of year. Foods should be whole foods full of life-force and enzymes and be as close as possible as they are in their natural fresh state.
Today, we need to add to these criteria for Sattva several other modern concerns. Sattvi foods should be grown without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, irradiation or anything unnatural. Modern use of refinement processes and chemical additives, besides actually adding substances to our foods, depletes foods of their Prana 'life-force' and hence renders them heavy, impotent and lifeless.
Sattic foods are nutritive vegetarian foods like organic nuts, seeds, whole grains and oily fruits and vegetables that help build the brain tissue and develop Ojas.
The Three Gunas
In the unmanifested Universe, energy has three qualities, known as Gunas, that exist together in equilibrium: Sattva (purity); Rajas (activity, passion, the process of change); and Tamas (darkness, inertia). Once energy takes form, one quality of the three predominates. Thus on an apple tree, some of the fruit is ripe (Sattvic), some ripening (rajasic) and some overripe (tamasic). But no matter which quality prevails, an Element of each of the other two will always be present as well. Most of an individual apple will be ripe, but part will be rotten, even if the naked eye cannot see it, and part will be in the process of changing from one state to the other. The three Gunas encompass all existence, all actions. If a man commits a robbery, the action is basically rajasic but the decision to rob and the motive may be predominantly tamasic, rajasic or Sattvic, according to the situation. In all people one of the three Gunas has superior strength and is reflected in all they do and think. Only in enlightenment are the Gunas completely transcended.
Ancient Rishis have said you take on the karma of the animal you eat
When you eat meat you are ingesting all the stress hormones released when that animal was killed. The hormones released at death are present in the flesh when you eat it. At a cellular level, your body is getting the message that you are dying.
One goal and effect of Ayurveda and following a spiritual path is to raise our vibrational levels
Meat has a very low vibration. On a continuum of lower vibrations, fish, chicken, lamb, beef, and finally pork have increasingly lower vibrations and their energy is very dark, dense and congested. Through the centuries it has been observed that vegetarians have a more refined etheric body and brighter aura. A vegetarian whose etheric body is brighter and healthier will generally heal at much faster rate than those who are not vegetarian.
Everything on Earth has a primary quality (Guna). Anything we hear, smell, see, taste or touch may be classified into the categories of Sattvic, Rajasic or Tamasic.
BALANCING THE EMOTIONAL BODY WITH FOOD
In Ayurveda a dietary system was developed by the ancient Masters and Sages thousands of years in working with the mind to help support an individual on a spiritual path that perfected the ancient forms of Yoga and Meditation. It is also the foundation of many healing arts. It has a rich tradition that has been taught, practiced and passed onto many cultures over the world.
Ayurveda or Sattvic foods all have one thing in common: they are high in Prana (the universal life force). More specifically, Sattvic foods are natural, organically grown, and as unrefined as possible. Modern food processing takes the Prana out of many foods and makes them heavy, impotent, and lifeless- or simply "dead food."
Mind balance in Ayurveda means modifying the mind from Tamasic or Rajasic to Sattvic state. Choosing those foods and activities that are Sattvic in nature in preference to those that are Rajasic or Tamasic does that. With consistent and dedicated attention to diet, environment and sensory experiences, total mind balance can be achieved.
It often takes discipline and effort to become Sattvic, but the peace of mind, health, strength and immunity that is obtained from this state of mind makes it worthwhile. However, some rajas and tamas qualities are still required for action and motivation to achieve our goals and inaction, sleep or relaxation (tamas).
There are three types of foods categorized by their primal essence or nature:
Dark, and dull. A tamasic diet benefits neither the mind nor the body. Prana, or energy, is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia sets in. The body's resistance to disease is destroyed and the mind filled with dark emotions, such as anger, jealousy and greed.
Tamasic foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, alcohol and other intoxicants including drugs. Foods that are over-processed, no longer fresh, and/or difficult to digest are Tamasic. Foods that are prepared unconsciously or while the preparer is angry or in a negative mood are also considered Tamasic. If you are interested in vital health and spiritual growth it is best to avoid these foods. Tamasic items include meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic, fermented foods, such as vinegar, and stale left over food, contaminated or overripe substances. Overeating is also regarded as tamasic. Tamasic is the unhealthiest food of all.
Rajas signifies the "can do" kind of energy. It is the energy, which we need to accomplish, create, and achieve. It represents worldly power and the sex drive. A Rajasic diet is good for "householders" who aspire to maintain a meditative mind but need to live and work in the world as well. It has been recommended by the ancient Rishis teachers that a combination of Sattvic and Rajasic foods for those who practice demanding disciplines such as endurance athletics, martial arts and Kundalini Yoga. They destroy the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind.
Foods that are very hot, bitter, sour, dry, or salty are rajasic. Too much rajasic food will over stimulate the body and excite strong emotional qualities and passions, making the mind restless and uncontrollable. Rajasic foods include hot substances, such as sharp spices or strong herbs, stimulants, like coffee and tea, meat of animals and fish, eggs, salt and chocolate. Many of the ground foods are Rajasic. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic.
Sattvic means pure essence. This is the purest diet for a consciously spiritual and healthy life. It nourishes the body and maintains it in a peaceful state. According to Ayurveda, this is the best diet for physical strength, a good mind, good health, and longevity. And it calms and purifies the mind, enabling it to function at its maximum potential. A Sattvic diet thus leads to true health: a peaceful mind in control of a fit body, with a balanced flow of energy between them. They are known to have a very cleansing effect on the body. A Sattvic diet is excellent for those individuals who desire to live a quiet, peaceful and meditative life. Sattvic foods comprise the diet of many sages, yogis and spiritual teachers. These foods are supposed to produce calmness and nobility among men. Eating fruits and vegetables increases one's magnetism. From what we understand today about diets we are sure that ancient Essenes and Rishis masters saints had a very good idea about food in general and their effect on the body and thinking pattern of man. Expression of the soul is dependent on the body, and the body is dependant on food.
The Sattvic diet consists of light, soothing, easily digested food. Sattvic signifies the etheric qualities and includes foods such as fruits and vegetables, especially sun foods and ground foods. Many Sattvic foods are sun foods are those that grow one meter or more above the ground. They have a quickening and lightening effect on the body's nervous and digestive systems. Ground foods are those foods that grow within one meter of the ground. They draw energy from the earth and are high in nutrients. Sattvic foods include sprouted whole grains, fresh fruit, land and sea vegetables, pure fruit juices, nut and seed milk and cheese, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey, and herb teas. Sattvic foods are those foods which do not agitate your stomach at all. According to the diet, the best foods are those that are fresh, which have a balance of all the six tastes and are consumed in moderate portions.
Becoming more Sattvic
One may focus on work, self-improvement and intellectual or spiritual pursuits. Maintaining a positive nature, demonstrating generosity, kindness, openness, fairness (equality) and forgiveness also increases Sattva Guna. In addition spiritual inclination, faith and belief in the Great Spirit or God, engaging in selfless service or charitable activities help to become Sattvic.
Nature's Sattvic Foods
Apples, Kiwi, Prunes, Apricots, Loquat, Tangerines, Bananas, Lychee, Pomegranate, Cantaloupe, Mango, Papaya, Cherries, Melons, Nectarines, Cranberry, Honeydew, Oranges, Grapefruits, Watermelon, Pineapples, Grapes, Peaches, Plums, Guava, Pears, Persimmon
Artichokes, Eggplant, Lettuce, Beets, Mustard, Greens, Asparagus, Daikon, Onions, Endive, Fennel, Maitake, Parsnips, Bok Choy, Peas, Broccoli, Green Beans, Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Radishes, Cabbage, Leeks, Lima Beans, Shallots, Carrots, Celery, Spinach, Cauliflower, Chard, Chanterelles, Sprouts, Corn, Squash, Shitake, Mushrooms, Watercress, Turnips, Yams
Sprouted Whole Grains
Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Millet, Quinoa, Rice:Basmati, Brown and Wild Rice.
Olive, Safflower, Sesame, Sunflower, Garbanzo, Lentils, Mung.
Asafoetida (hing), Coriander, Basil, Cumin, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Fennel seed, Parsley, Cardamom, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger
Brazil nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts
Milks & Cheese
Seed milk, Hemp milk, Almond or other nut milk
Cane juice, Raw honey, Stevia, Fruit Juices, Maple Syrup
It takes time for the effects of dietary changes to manifest on the mind. Changing our diet may not impact our psychology overnight, but in a period of months can affect it significantly.