Mental Steadiness and the Three Modes of Operation
In his book ‘Yoga Reminder’, A.G. Mohan describes mental steadiness as “the ability to hold in the mind a peaceful thought of one’s choice and allow it to come into the mind again and again. In time one is able to hold on to the peaceful thought even while facing adversity”. He goes on to describe the three modes of the operation of the mind.
“The first mode is characterised by feelings of lightness and brightness, contentment, quiet and clarity”. We refer to this as Satvva.
“The next mode is characterised by excitement or stimulation – by excess mental activity, obsession, agitation and lack of control.” We refer to this mode as Rajas.
“The third mode is one of heaviness or dullness, insatiability and delusion, and lack of self-control. In this mode, we are likely to take action without thinking or to take no action at all.” We refer to this mode as Tamas.
These modes act as a pendulum. We need Rajas to get us moving and we need Tamas to bring us to rest. As with all things, they need to be balanced by Satvva in the middle.
If we are too Rajasic we may experience anxiety or anger and excessive neurotic thinking. This leads to false projections of reality.
If we are too Tamasic we may experience feelings of despair. This may lead to a sense that everything is against us and we may feel a great weight on our shoulders.
As a result, both of these states can lead to chronic stress. This leads to anxiety and depression and other physiological and psychological illness.
With Sattva, we may feel a sense of ‘equanimity’. Which gives us the ability to approach the challenges of life with a sense of calmness and composure, especially in difficult situations. Operating from the Sattvic state, life can begin to consciously unfold with greater ease and flow from the present moment.
Without the overwhelm of constant input and stimulation, the mind and body can remain calm and present and instead of reacting, can respond rationally and positively.