All suffering is a result of imbalance — physically, mentally or spiritually.
In yoga philosophy, physical disease is attributed to imbalances in diet or environment. Mental suffering is caused by constant restlessness of the mind. And the greatest destabilizer of all, is a lack of spiritual perception.
The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali refer to the constantly changing states we experience in our human nature as, the gunas. There are three gunas: Rajas, which represents activity, Tamas, which represents inertia, and Sattva, representing equilibrium.
We fluctuate between these states all day, every day, just as nature fluctuates between cycles and seasons. But as devastation occurs, resulting in imbalance, so does difficulty ensue in our lives when we swing too far from center.
By cultivating Sattvic qualities and practices, we stay close to our personal point of balance and harmony and are able to reflect our light into the world with ease.
In a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, Paramahansa Yogananda refers to these qualities as "soul qualities," something any yogi should be aspiring toward. These are the qualities that align us, bringing our outer lives into congruency and helping us experience our inner divinity.
Here are the 26 Sattvic qualities named in the Bhagavad Gita, that can bring peace and harmony into your life:
2. Purity of heart
3. Perseverance (in acquiring wisdom and in practicing yoga)
5. Subjugation of the senses
6. Performance of holy rites
7. Study of the scriptures
13. Freedom from wrath
16. Compassion for all creatures
17. Absence of greed
20. Lack of restlessness
21. Radiance of character
25. Freedom from hate
26. Absence of conceit
By practicing self-reflection (aka self-study or Swadhyaya) we can notice from this list what may be out of balance in our lives today.
We can choose one quality to work on and contemplate how we might grow in this area. If we choose fearlessness, we can give ourselves a small courageous challenge. If compassion was the one we identified, we can refrain from judgment and imagine being in another's circumstance to build more compassion. If lack of restlessness is what we need to develop, we can begin a short five minute meditation practice today.
It is helpful to stay with one quality for a few weeks to help cultivate a habit, exploring all the ways in which it can be utilized and experienced at work, at home and within. If we were to practice one quality every two weeks for a year, we would see the many subtle ways our lives can become rebalanced. With dedication and attention to Sattvic qualities we will come to know our happy, harmonious Higher Self.