When I experienced the loss of my father, I surprisingly found myself filled with energy. Inside, I was grieving, but I was always trying to solve problems, make arrangements, see to the needs of my mother or anyone who had needs. I astounded myself.
I asked myself when the lethargy would kick in, or when would I face a slump. But I surprisingly found myself torpedoing through for a whole month.
On the other hand, when I lost two of my most beloved pets – Raven, the cat and Bandit, the dog – and also when my flat got burgled, I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep. In fact, that was what I did most of the time, unless I really had to get to work.
Guna is a Sanskrit word, meaning “quality, peculiarity, attribute, or tendency.” It is derived from Sankhya philosophy but they are now an accepted concept in most schools of yoga philosophy.
The three gunas are described as being constantly influx and interacting with one another. The interplay between them may help define the essential qualities of someone or something. They also may influence the path of life.
It is good just to be aware of what quality our energy is in when we experience #grief. From there, we can take any steps we wish to – if at all – to changes things. And it’s not wrong to change stay in a certain state for while.
Yoga, as well as modern physics, explains that everything is energy. In yoga, the three gunas together weave and form everything, including the universe itself.
Each guna has its own qualities:
- rajas (activity / higher vibration)
- tamas (stability / lower vibration)
- sattva (consciousness – for want of a better term – the balance between rajas and tamas.)
Let’s delve into these qualities when we grieve.
The gunas and grieving.
When we think of our lives, and when we think of the gunas or the chakras, we should try to avoid thinking on a binary scale: good / bad; open / blocked, etc. Rather, if we look at things in cycles, we would know there is a time and a place for everything.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV
In terms of the gunas, we move along a spectrum of these three qualities of energy in life. Contraction into a tamasic quality is normal and expected in grieving or loss. Alternatively, expansion into activity and outward-looking also can be expected during times of struggle, because, really, there is a lot to do!
Even if we look at loss from the point of the burglary of my apartment, there was police reports to make, determining what was stolen and what was not, finding the cats that were hiding / missing and comforting them, trying to remember if I backed up anything online, or was everything on my stolen laptop and (also) stolen backup disk.
The contraction and expansion of energy is trying to get us to find a balance, but because grief, loss and trauma affect us so much, we may overshoot – moving more towards rajas or more towards tamas. That’s fine, it’s expected.
Depending on how our chakras are affected in times of loss and grieving, we may find the qualities of our energy changing. Keeping in mind that the energy of our subtle body is churned by the chakras, and that each chakra corresponds to nerve or hormonal plexus of our physical body, the effect of the gunas we experience during grief and loss will be experienced by our physical body also.
Just remember that our responses to grief and loss is normal, but we need to manage ourselves with a lot of self-care. Research on grief and loss reveal that indicators of healthy outcomes are both self-care and support (see “The Chakras in Grief and Trauma: A Tantric Guide to Energetic Wholeness” by Karla Helbert).
When I lost my father, I spent a lot of time in meditation and reiki, sometimes twice a day. I continue with reiki on a daily basis before bed, and it has helped a lot. Working with the mudras also has helped. Make sure you spend time in taking care of yourself, and having good support during your time of grief and loss.
The gunas and the universe.
As an end note on the gunas, perhaps it’s good to know that these quality of energy work together to evolve from Purusha (spirit / consciousness) to Prakrti (matter / nature). We need the activity of rajas, the balance of sattva and the stability of tamas for energy to create what it needs to create.
The actual study of this is perhaps better in a yoga teacher training, if you are interested.
Perhaps as an analogy, you could look at it from a physics point of view, where we learn that the higher a molecule vibrates, the less likely it will take physical manifestation (e.g. air), but the lower its vibration, the more likely it will take physical form.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me. Take good care of yourself.
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