Our personality is based on 3 Gunas: Rajas (the quality which defines action), Tamas (gives form to objects and things, whether animate or inanimate) and Satva (balancing factor which does not allow either Rajas or Tamas or both, to hold sway.) The variations in these gunas are what define our personality.
We have heard a lot about personality types. Sometimes we hear about extrovert and introvert or Type A and Type B. At times we come across categories based on attitude or behavior. We could be labeled as emotional, hyperactive, stressed, angry, stubborn and so on. However, this is an inaccurate way at looking at personality. There is even something more basic, like a root cause which drives our personality.
The Three Types of Qualities
Yoga and all other Hindu and Jain philosophies are very clear that there are three qualities which every individual is made up of. These qualities are known as Gunas. By made up, we mean both, mental and physical constitution. A permutation and combination of these three in varying degrees gives us our nature and personality. Also, these are not cast in stone and every human can change its own personality with various Yoga practices and lifestyle. Let us look at these three core qualities.
Rajas is the quality which defines action and everything that goes with it. This includes restlessness, mental and physical hyperactivity, multi-tasking, inability to concentrate, need for power or control, constant movement, uncontrolled action. Rajas is an essential quality to maintain life and growth. Even the internal organs function because of Rajas. The problem occurs when the mind starts functioning mainly from Rajas. Persons we see as hyperactive, workaholics, compulsive multi-taskers, physically very active and physically violent are all operating from excess of Rajas.
Tamas is a quality which gives form to objects and things, whether animate or inanimate. It is also the quality responsible for ‘being at rest’ and relaxation. This very nature of Tamas is also the foundation for inertia, lethargy, dullness, change resistance, stubbornness, fixed, dark, brooding, emotional, desires. When we see people who are dull, lazy, stubborn, emotional or very sensory oriented, the operating quality is Tamas.
This is a quality which is balanced. This brings in purity, calmness, positivity and stability. Satva is the balancing factor which does not allow either Rajas or Tamas or both, to hold sway. A person operating from Satva is balanced in thoughts, speech and action. The personality itself is different. Those operating mainly from Satva are Rishis, mystics and prophets.
Swing of the Gunas Determines Personality
These qualities we have seen are present in all of us in some proportion. Most of us are not aware how we function and operate. But once we do become aware, we will be able to figure out the predominating guna in our actions and thoughts. Most of the times, it will be Rajas or Tamas.
To give examples, if we desire something, get emotional, resist change or have some deep rooted or obvious fear, it is Tamas. On the physical side, fatigue, feeling tired, lazy and sleeping a lot are all Tamas. If we are very active or hyperactive then it is Rajas. Rushing around, doing many things, expecting others to be the same, obsessive behaviors and trying to be perfectionists are all signs of Rajas.
We all have a predominant quality. Some are inherently relaxed or slow. Some are inherently active. We then keep operating and shifting through life. So at times we are hyperactive and at times we feel ‘low’. Sometimes we are angry and sometimes we become indifferent.
Balancing the Gunas
The whole concept in Yoga, therefore is to create a balance between these qualities and gradually develop Satva to play a predominating role. Not getting angry, remaining calm, working with full focus but in a balanced way and many more, are the attributes of Satva. This is not an easy task. At the same time it is not so difficult if you have the right kind of inputs. Yoga is one such discipline. It has been seen in all the cases, that even doing asanas on a daily basis, automatically helps you to become calmer but more active and balanced.
Make a beginning by starting Yoga asanas. Take a good online yoga program or online yoga classes to start improving your personality by practicing at home. You really need not spend a lot of money to start yoga.