Are you the kind of person that likes to go-go-go like the energizer bunny? 


Is it hard for you to get motivated? Follow-through on commitments?


Are you more interested in exploring the inner world than the outer, more at home on your meditation cushion than anywhere else?

Perhaps the truth is that you vacillate between different modes of activity. Or find yourself somewhere in between. Sometimes quiet and contemplative, other times with the urge take charge, rock out, jump-off, plunge in.

No right or wrong way to be here. We all have our unique dispositions and personalities dominated by different energetic qualities that drive our desire to train for an ultramarathon, tour with a band, head to the desert for Burning Man, sleep in, or sign up for a silent retreat. 

The three gunas

Vedic philosophy points to the three gunas to describe energetic states of balance.

We can create balance and cultivate a greater degree of health and well being in our lives through understanding the three gunas that pervade all of nature: rajas, tamas, and sattva. 

In general terms:

Rajas is the quality of activity, passion, agitation, or restlessness.

Tamas represents inertia, inactivity, lethargy or dullness.

Sattva is the state of lucidity, balance, equanimity, and peace. 

The three gunas are not inherently good or bad, however.

For instance, we want tamas to promote restorative sleep in the evening, and rajas, which represent passion and activity, are necessary to get things done. And during most of our waking state and in our relationships we want to promote a consciousness that has more and more sattva, union with the higher qualities of peace, serenity, and joy.

And the flip side? If rajas are activated at night we may have insomnia. Too much tamas during the day may lead to a lack in productivity. And according to the sacred Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita, in the final analysis, we want to transcend the three gunas and not get attached to experiencing only sattva because that in itself can lead to a form of bondage. 

So once again, we’re brought back to the main principle of Ayurveda - balance

Ponder this: 

How are your states of consciousness affected by the three gunas? Does one guna dominate for you? Which one? How does it affect the different aspects of your being: body, mind, spirit?

And this:

  • If you are ruled by rajas, do you have trouble being “present”, unwinding, sleeping?

  • If tamas dominate your life, do you have difficulty with motivation, productivity, achieving your goals?

  • If you devote most of your time pursuing sattva, does this interfere with your ability to connect with others, meet responsibilities, be a part of “this” world?

And finally...this:

How can you use the three gunas in a balanced way to bring more equanimity to your life?

Finding the balance

If you’re feeling that one or more of the gunas dominates your life in an undesirable way, try bringing more balance to your days. For a peek into the daily morning routine of the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute, Dr. Vasant Lad, click here. If Dr. Lad’s routine feels too intense, try my self-care plan to stay healthy during the pandemic. And if your days just need a bit more regularity and variety, see if any of the following suggestions might be supportive as you go about business as usual.


Eat at regular times each day.

  • a variety of fresh, organic (if possible) colorful fruits and vegetables.

  • a variety of plant proteins, seeds, nuts, and legumes.

  • whole grains if your diet allows.

  • if you eat dairy, make sure it’s organic (if possible) and hormone-free.

Stay hydrated. Drink water and eat hydrating foods like cucumbers, carrots, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, citrus fruit, strawberries, melons, and peaches.

Try not to eat three to four hours before bed.

If your personality is dominated by rajas, try avoiding spicy and stimulating foods like garlic and onions, coffee, tea, chocolate, and deep fried or sugary foods.

If tamas is more dominant for you, be aware of cravings towards chemically processed foods, alcohol, heavy oily foods, and cigarettes.

Balance your propensity towards rajas or tamas-influenced eating habits with sattvic dietary practices.


Go to sleep at the same time each night.

Wake up at the same time each morning.

Try to get enough sleep (7-8 hours).

Try to go to sleep before midnight.

If you are caring for an infant, try to rest when your baby is sleeping.


Do a movement activity you love (or at least don’t hate) for 30 minutes five times a week - walk, run, bike, swim, hike, dance, do yoga, tai chi, qigong, etc.

Do something that brings you a sense of calm each day - meditate, pray, read, listen to music, walk, sit quietly/stare into space, watch TV or a movie, do a puzzle, etc.

Do something creative - cook, color/paint/draw, play an instrument, write, build something, etc.


Connect with others - call or text someone; join a virtual group, class, event; write e- or snail mail; spend time on social media (but not too much!); play video games.

The final word

See what you can incorporate into your life easily and joyfully to bring your rajas, tamas, and sattva energies into alignment to bring forth the best version of YOU.