Your mental health is based on the harmony between your outer and your inner life.
The way that you function in the external world is based on the workings of your mind, and the same mind also is used to access your inner world. So, you can see that your mind can be your friend, but it can also be your enemy. Everything depends on your attitude towards life, and how you apply this attitude. The system of yoga gives you both an understanding of this, and offers you practices so that you can learn to discipline the mind and experience your harmony and balance.
For many people the cause of imbalance between the inner and outer life is because they seek perfection only in the external dimension – most people have no time for looking within themselves; or if they do, they are not present when doing so. This is due either to a failure of understanding their inner world, or not yet realizing its importance.
The root cause of your imbalances can be traced back to dissatisfaction with life as it is, and your inability to accept yourself where you are right now. That is because you are not living in reality – you are living in your own ideas of how life should be – in the prison of your own mind, rather than with the flow of life – as it is.
It’s very hard for people to be aware of this because our lifestyle and attitude towards life is most often not based on balance – we are either too active or too passive in both the body and the mind.
According to the yogic system there are three modes of the human mind (called gunas in Sanskrit):
• the mode of sattva – balance (the mode of mind when one is in balance, living in the present – redirecting your awareness to the present),
• rajas – active (mode of mind when the awareness is constantly in the future, making you passionate, at the peak of restlessness and overactivity); and
• tamas – passive (mode of mind that functions in the past – continually thinking about past events and experiences).
Each of these three modes, or attitudes, have their respective place in our life.
· The early morning time is for sattva – for establishing your equanimity. If you wake up early and give some time for disciplining your body, breath and mind, then you can experience your balance, grounding and clarity throughout the day.
· The daytime is the time for rajas – to be active and working, being physically more involved in life – but if you have missed the morning grounding part, your ability to be consciously involved in your work will be minimised; and your ability to overcome the different ups and downs and stresses will be lessened – you will find that you can easily be affected by unexpected occurrences during the day.
· Tamas is the natural state of non-action, in the evening – at this time you should do something to help ground your awareness in the present moment so that you can enter the state of tamas in a way that will give you maximum rest, so that you can again awaken refreshed and energised.
By understanding the gunas we have understood the different modes of mind; next we will discuss what the mind actually IS. According to yoga, there are four parts to your mind. Stay tuned for our next article where we will discuss these four different parts, and how your mind can become your friend in your day-to-day life.