Ayurvedic Psychology

Happy with your own constitution

"A person's basic constitution is an enduring component. Understanding and taking it into account helps to go through life calmly and joyfully."

Many aspects shape our personality: besides upbringing, education and early childhood experiences in the family environment, the greatest influence for our character formation comes from our physical and mental constitution, according to Ayurveda. In concrete terms, this means that the decision about who we are and how we shape our lives depends on the way in which the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) and the gunas (tamas, rajas, sattva) manifest themselves. Here the imprints of the basic constitution (Deha-Prakrti), which are formed by the Doshas, are unchangeable, while the mental constitution (Manas-Prakrti) is subject to our direct influence.

"Knowing the resilience of one's constitution is a great help in coping with the daily challenges of life." Kerstin Rosenberg encourages her participants in the psychology seminars.

In this context, we can think of the constellation of doshas as the hardware of a computer, which contributes to optimal functionality through basic gross structures and mechanisms.

Hardware supports software

The software, on the other hand, is provided by the mental constitution, which is responsible for the subtle processing and interpretation of data. The more stable and healthy our physical constitution (hardware) is, the better mental disturbance factors (software) can be cushioned. This is because the physical and mental immune system reacts according to type to overstrain and stress and is therefore vulnerable on different levels.

The classical Ayurveda texts describe impressively that every mental illness is preceded by a lack of Ojas (vital life energy) and that a good digestion as well as an active cell metabolism are the basis for every psycho-mental therapy. In order to rebuild the lost ojas, simple regeneration measures such as foods rich in vital substances, spices and medicinal herbs are helpful.

It is more difficult, however, to treat the subtle causes of the loss of ojas. These usually lie at the subtle level of the emotional field. The most common "ojas killers" are painful or unresolved past experiences, repressed emotions and mental stress. All this creates an excess of Rajas in the mental constitution and prepares the ground for all mental complaints.

Pychological consultation

personality imprints we cannot change

Many people strive to find new solutions to their private, professional or health problems through personality modification. We all know how difficult this is! Because according to our individual constitution we have unique qualities that shape our body, our psyche and our behavior. Physical characteristics such as size, face shape, skin or hair texture are just as unchangeable as our psychological constitutional traits.

Type-related character traits such as ambition, creativity, vanity or helpfulness are constitutional and can be acquired only with difficulty in other ways. In this sense, efforts to change a personality are often doomed to failure from the start. So our parents could have saved themselves the trouble of constantly nagging at us.

Kerstin Rosenberg, Director of Training in Psychology at the European Academy of Ayurveda, can still hear her mother scolding her sister, "Don't be so stubborn all the time!" If she had known then what she knows now, and told her, "Mum, Heike can't help it, she's just a Pitta type and therefore finds it hard to admit mistakes," the family could have spared themselves many a bitter row. And her grandmother, who always said to her father, "Child, be content," would have been much less worried about her son's well-being if she had been aware that a Vata type is constantly plagued by inner doubts and quickly feels an inner emptiness that keeps producing new spirals of thought.

It all depends on the interpretation

Since many personality traits are an integral part of the basic constitution (Deha-Prakrti), they shape our life path in all stages of development from childhood to old age. However, how these fundamental character traits are expressed can be quite different.

"We are not victims of all the whims and fads of the prakrti, but the quality of our thoughts and emotions determines the happiness or unhappiness with which we experience each day."

The aim of all psycho-mental interventions of Ayurveda is to develop as much sattva-guna as possible and thus overcome the disturbing factors of tamas and rajas. Through a sattvic state of mind, we transform negative constitutional traits and show ourselves at our best: the sensitive Vata mind receives spiritual and creative inspiration (sattva) rather than nervous overstimulation (rajas) or lethargy (tamas). Similarly, the degree of sattva determines whether a kapha type becomes a philanthropist or a miser, or whether pitta agency serves the productive good of all or leads to aggressive destruction.

Ayurvedic psychology cites the classical techniques of yoga as the best methods for strengthening sattvic personality expression. Especially the purifying breathing exercises of Pranayama and the centering concentration exercises of silent meditation act like a mental burning glass and are used as optimal prevention to ward off mental disorders. However, if mental or psychosomatic complaints are already present, then in addition to a daily yoga and meditation practice, a custom-fit mixture of dosha-balancing measures (diet, massage, medicinal herbs) and psychological counselling sessions are needed to strengthen Sattva effectively and sustainably. Then the mantra recitations work especially well to chant against the inner bastard and to practice loving self-reflection during meditation.

Constitutional character traits

A Vata personality type has a lot of openness, creativity and spontaneity. He perceives the world around him with all his senses, is curious, capable of learning and communicative. He can adapt quickly to new people and situations and has a good short-term memory. On the emotional level, a high Vata content can lead to nervousness, insecurity, shyness, fears, worries and doubts.

A Pitta personality is intelligent, ambitious and expressive. She goes through life goal-oriented and conquers (her) world. She is demanding with herself and others, competitive and very persuasive through words and actions. On the emotional level, a high Pitta content can lead to excessive ambition and perfectionism, anger, rage and overestimation of oneself.

Kapha-dominant personalities are naturally calm, content and friendly. They are loyal, comfortable and socially minded. Thus, they are most interested in their family and friends, good food and the pleasant things in life. On the emotional level, a high Kapha content can lead to laziness, ignorance, untruthfulness, listlessness and depression.

Qualities of the mental constitution

Our mental constitution is formed by the three gunas Tamas, Rajas, Sattva. The aim of psychological therapies of Ayurveda and Yoga is to form a positive mental climate in which Tamas and Rajas manifest in healthy expression (stage 1-3) and Sattva-Guna prevails.

Tamas

  1. leads to sleep (too much sleep is already tamas pathology)

  2. Laziness and lethargy

  3. procrastination

  4. Lack of interest, listlessness

  5. Depression

Rajas

  1. activates

  2. Restlessness, body and thoughts must move

  3. "Mental diarrhea", mind is permanently busy and tied up

  4. Impatience and difficulty in making decisions

  5. Anger, aggression, violence

Sattva

  1. calm, peaceful, joyful, enthusiastic, beautiful

  2. someone is good with himself / with himself

  3. radiance, centeredness, joyfulness

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