The Sattva Quality

    The quality of Sattva

    text : Pauline Bijster

    Contributor: Francis van Schaik


    The concept of sattvic consciousness comes from Ayurvedic health education. It is a clear, clean, balanced state of being where your intuition is said to be at its strongest. How can you develop and apply that in your life?

    Intuition or inner knowing is always there. It’s not something you have to look up, or something that one can reach and the other can’t. We all have it, and everyone has access. Within Ayurveda, this ‘inner knowing’ is valued just as much as other types of knowledge or science. Ayurvedic doctors also work with it.

    Sattvic consciousness

    According to Ayurveda, you need sattvic consciousness to get to your own inner knowing. That is a state of being that you develop when your body and mind are clean and clear. So if you take good care of your body, eat healthy and vegetarian food, live frugally, keep your environment clean, if you show respect for other people, animals and nature, if you control your emotions and keep your thoughts pure.

    Sattva, tamas and rajas

    Ayurvedic teachings distinguish three gunas or qualities of life: sattva, tamas and rajas. With rajas, the focus is on the outside world, and also on what the other person has. Rajas is an active, restless energy. It is drive or passion, it is movement and curiosity, but also greed or jealousy. We live in a society that is very rajas: driven by progress, movement, growth and consumption. Tamas, on the other hand, is a kind of sleeping state, the dark. Tamas is seeking distraction, avoiding feeling, standing still and even death. Finally, Sattva is the calm, balanced center, the balance. You can also say: the light. Sattvic life is not daydreaming and running all the time. It is being awake and clear, calm and stable. Know that everything you need is already within you.

    The purest way of life

    In a sattvic state, there is balance. It means that you can act right, speak right, think and feel right, you are not hurting anyone. In colloquial language: you are zen. That is why yogis often strive for a sattvic consciousness. “Sattvic life is living with respect for all that exists. It is the purest way to live,” says Flemish Lies Ameeuw. She gives Ayurveda trainings and wrote books about it.

    “It is sattva to be considerate of your fellow man, of nature, of the cosmos. To humble yourself. Not to look for anesthesia or distraction, to have a clear view of your goals. It is living in a higher frequency.” Every kind of everyday behavior and thinking can be subdivided under one of these gunas, says Ameeuw. “Looking jealously at your neighbor’s car, seeing things on social media, wanting to buy something, it’s very rajas, like competitive sports. Taking naps or lounging during the day, putting off tasks for you, that’s tamas again.” An important part of Ayurveda is nutrition. Eating and drinking can help to become more aware and intuitive, to become more sattvic. For example, alcohol or coffee is very rajas and frozen food can be called tamas. Fresh vegetables, rice and lentils suit sattva, as do organic, vegetarian and local food. For a higher consciousness it is important to eat in such a way that other plants, animals or people do not have to suffer because of what you eat. In addition, the food must be prepared with care and love by someone with a pure heart. Some yogis go so far as not to eat anything prepared by someone they don’t know.

    A step in the right direction

    “Simply put: if you want to increase your sattvic consciousness, it is actually important to always choose the purest option,” Ameeuw summarizes. “With everything you can ask yourself: does this somehow harm the world? Thinking about where you buy things or clothing, where the fabric comes from, whether child labor precedes it, that is also part of it.”

    Meditation and yoga practice contribute to a sattvic consciousness, and walking in nature. But also: keep your house clean and tidy. Purity in all areas, you literally and figuratively try to live clean. That is why a daily routine is recommended in Ayurveda; regularity helps you to get into the flow of life. Getting up at a fixed time, making time every day to meditate or take care of your body, that makes us calm, more relaxed, and therefore more sattvic. Ameeuw adds: “People sometimes ask me: are organic vegetable chips sattvic or not? I think so, but I don’t know if it’s very important up to that level. You probably cannot live one hundred percent sattvic, but you can start with pure intentions. That is already an important step in the right direction.” Don’t mindlessly do your job or eat that bag of chips, but know why you’re doing it, and also what it does to you.

    What is your higher purpose?

    The result of this effort is easier access to the soul. Or to the truth. “I am convinced that your intuition is also there,” says Ameeuw. It may sound logical: the cleaner your actions and thoughts and intentions are, the more access you have to a kind of universal truth. However, you also have to be careful, according to Ameeuw. You may ask yourself: why do you want a sattvic consciousness? If that is an end in itself, it may not be so sattvic. If you want to increase your intuition in order to become “the best healer”, that is also not very sattvic. As soon as you pursue something, it is actually no longer pure. And experiencing a lot of stress because you necessarily want to eat sattvic but find it difficult, is also not so sattvic. Ameeuw: “I sometimes ask people: what is your higher purpose? How do you find balance? How can you be of service? Not from submission, or because Ayurveda has to, but from within.”




    Francis van Schaik

    Francis van Schaik is a coach for the youth and a student of human interrelations and human relation with nature.  She contributes excellent articles, useful for all, regularly to our magazine.