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Money and wealth is a subject all of us have to relate to in our culture, so it poses a good lens for understanding our emotional attachments. In Ayurveda, the emotions or mindsets are divided into three emotional types: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic.
Looking at these from the perspective of money, the sattvic mind has no attachment to money, as there is no fear. A feeling of total safety and security exists. A lot of money would not make a sattvic person happy, and the lack of it wouldn’t have the power to make them unhappy.
The rajasic mind is somewhat attached to money, as the first layers of fear have settled in and the mind latches on to the need for money to ensure a feeling of safety and security, even though it is an illusion.
The tamasic mind is very attached to money. In fact, it is holding onto it for dear life! Feeling very unsafe, the mind holds on even tighter, drifting even further away from sattva – where true safety, contentment and freedom reside.
The goal of Ayurveda is to become more sattvic, and less rajasic or tamasic. Rajasic and tamasic are attached to the material world or money by hoarding it out of a deep fear of loss. We should strive to be more sattvic – less attached to the material world.
Looking through the lens of our attachments to money, the following exercise is an Ayurvedic self-inquiry practice to free ourselves from our attachments. It is interesting to see that, from the point of view of a rajasic or tamasic mindset, you can never have enough money. A sattvic mindset has the clear vision to see that money is an illusion and will never bring full satisfaction and joy.
Self-Inquiry Practice – Ask Yourself:
- If I let go of my attachment to money, what would I lose? Will I die with some money left over in the bank?
- What if I started giving money to charity, even if it is just a little. Would I feel better or worse?
- What if I stopped driving myself to be successful and allowed myself to just enjoy my life – how would I feel?
- On my death bed, what would I regret more: not making more money, or not playing more?
Sometimes, imagining the worst can help you realize that the fear is mostly an illusion. I remember when my daughter came home from a stay with an off-the-grid Tarahumaran Mexican family, who basically had no money. She recounted how content they were and how little they had. Perhaps the lack of money could be an opportunity to restart a life that is simple again, without all the stress and strain that come with our civilized culture.
Make of list of the times in your life that you were truly happy and joyful in your life. Were those times dependent on having lots of money or could those happy times have been experienced without a cost?
Start taking action to reproduce those happy feelings, thoughts and actions throughout your daily life. You can replace your attachments with joy anytime. It just takes practice to realize that only you – not money – can fill you up.
Take the Challenge
To determine your emotional body type and your prevalence of sattvic, rajasic and tamasic qualities, please take my Emotional Body Type Quiz.
Once you take the quiz and determine your emotional type, this process of self-inquiry can be adapted to any or all of the rajasic or tamasic qualities that may be negatively affecting your life. The goal is not to necessarily score all sattva in this questionnaire, but to become aware of tamasic or rajasic qualities that are not serving you. I suggest starting with the tamasic qualities you checked and work your way into some of the rajasic qualities. This questionnaire provides the first step for change, which is the awareness that your mind has created this rajasic or tamasic illusion in the first place, in the name of safety and security.
While issues like not being able to concentrate or having a poor memory can be caused by a number of physical or bio-chemical factors, they may also be protective mental traits that can be changed. The mind often uses these qualities to cover up mental clarity, a great memory, or even the ability to forgive someone, because it has determined through a veil of illusion that you are safer without those qualities of clarity or forgiveness.
Your job – if you decide to do it – is to realize how your mind has hidden the experience of your true, joyful, happy, and most powerful self in the name of safety. It is time to take that risk of experiencing life fully by chipping away at the qualities that are serving you no longer, one step at a time.