Each 'Choose-day' we will investigate the process by which we can reassess our activity and interaction with the world of plurality and become more congruent within our personality.
We are reading the small booklet called "Not Too Loose, Not Too tight - Just right!" This is written by Swamini Vimalananda, and gives a very general overview of Vedanta for the beginner, with emphasis on the sattvic, rajasic and tamasic approaches to life. Remember, we are a mixture of all; use this as your mirror.
आहार /aahaara - food.
Food is one of the basic necessities of life without which we cannot survive. The food that we eat is divided into three parts. The grossest part is removed from the body by the excretory system. The subtler part goes to form the skin, bones, blood, flesh. The subtlest part feeds the brain, the operational platform of mind. Hence, food and mind are very closely related. The type of food one likes depends on the quality of ones' mind, and the quality of the mind, in turn, depends on the quality of one's food. Additionally, how one takes one's food has an effect. We have choice, do we let the mind decide according to inputs from our body, or do we direct the mind to decide according to our intellect?
Sattvic; a sattvic person eats an appropriate quantity of food at regular times, with calm mind and in an unhurried and neat manner. They are careful with regard to what is eaten, as awareness is there of the potential effects upon mind and body. Food is sattvic when it is obtained by righteous means (that is to say, by growing oneself, or adequately compensating those who bring it to market); also, when it is cooked by a person with good thoughts as they work and in clean, hygienic surroundings; when it is served with Love and care. The type of food is juicy, wholesome, nutritious, aesthetically pleasing, fragrant, satisfying but not over-filling. Such food increases our life span, makes the mind sharp and alert, helps to maintain brain health, purifies the mind, strengthens the body and leaves us with a sense of well-being and contentment. Fruits, vegetables, milk, pulses and legumes are all sattvic foods.
Rajasic; one who is rajasic may eat irregularly and likely hurriedly. They may eat standing or walking rather than sitting calmly. Often they will indulge in over-eating but can equally be poor eaters, not taking sufficient nutrients. Such a personality will eat for taste, without care for the waist or the effect it may have on the mind. Food becomes rajasic when it is cooked by those with money-motive, served in anger, or eaten in poor mood. Care may not have been there for preparation and it can causes digestive disturbance. Rajasic food is over-spicy, too sour, too salty or sweet, too oily, excessively hot, dry, over- or under-cooked. Such food causes diseases, agitation in mind and depletes the body, which has to fight to manage digestion. Rajasic foods are the fast, junky, fried foods, foods which are not home cooked and containing products which are mass-produced and containing substances from that production. Note, is it not that one must never eat fried foods - but if they are the normal, rather than a treat, they become a problem.
Tamasic; such a person overeats every time and at all times other than expected meal times. They are snackers and will eat either in a lethargic manner or extremely hurriedly (gorging), messily, perhaps whilst lying down. Food which is prepared with no regard to any hygiene protocol, with no thought of care for the food itself or those who are going to eat it, is considered tamasic. Also, stale, leftover, tasteless, and featureless foods. Very often, those of tamasic quality will avoid nutritious foods such as fruit and vegetables. Eating of dull foods will result in dull personality; the body becomes lazy, the mind slows and will be inclined to low thoughts. Examples of tamasic foods are alcohol, meat, onions, mushrooms, yeast.
[It is worth noting here that the Indian classification of foods in this manner is a system which is several thousand years old - current Western "food pyramid" systems go some way to matching this - but a lot can be learned from ayurvedica!]