This is part 4 of Our Mental Nature series.
Tamas means stagnation. It is a heavy and dull energy.
It functions as the force of gravity that slows things down and holds them in specific limited forms. Anything that brings someone down in consciousness is Tamas.
Tamas Guna is the passive, obstructive force that sustains previous activity.
It is the energy of rest, resistance, and inertia.
It creates dullness and darkness.
It is the lower or material force that causes emotional clinging, attachment, and lethargy.
Tamas creates form and substance through which the physical body comes into being. It is matter. Pushing us out of enlightenment, Tamas imparts ignorance and delusion in the mind and promotes insensitivity, sleep, and loss of awareness. It makes one resistant to change.
But as with all the mental gunas, Tamas Gunas is necessary for the proper function of life ~ to provide rest and recuperation. When we need grounding and need to slow down, a balanced amount of the heavy energy of Tamas Guna is what is needed to bring stillness and sound sleep. Once it has served its purpose, the excited energy of Rajas needs to come in to cause change to a more balanced state, which then ultimately can advance to Sattva Guna.
Tamasic energy likes to stay the same. A mind with a lot of Tamasic energy does not like to act, they tend towards the status quo. In excess, a Tamasic mind can create sadness, lack of self-esteem and motivation, depression, fear, hopelessness, and a feeling of being stuck.
Signs and symptoms of someone with a lot of Tamasic energy:
Prone to addiction
Difficulty making decisions
Foods that bring more Tamasic energy to the mind:
Foods that are old, stale, left-over, or heavy
Foods that are microwaved, deep-fried, greasy, canned, or frozen
Artificial & processed foods
Animal products (esp those not cared for lovingly)
Intoxicants/depressants like alcohol & marijuana
Lifestyle practices that bring more Tamasic energy to the mind:
Basically, anything that makes you more dull, lazy, and depressed
Watching violence on TV, excessive tv-watching
Trolling social media
Sleeping during the daytime
We always have each of these 3 gunas within us but in varying amounts, as they all have their purpose. How we live our lives, how we eat, and the lifestyle habits we practice, all determine how much of these energies we will experience in our minds. The more we are aware of these energies and the more we know how to cultivate them, the more it allows us to consciously shift our mental state to a more positive nature.
If there is a predominance of Tamas and Rajas Guna in one’s mind, it often leads to psychological problems. Increasing Sattva Guna is how one nurtures mental health. It lifts the mind, calms the nervous system, and provides clarity and harmony. See my blog on how to cultivate Sattva Guna.