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How to Live Sattva: the Ayurvedic Way to Live Well

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How to Live Sattva: the Ayurvedic Way to Live Well

Perceive ‘Higher Reality’ Through Vedic Living
Eminé Rushton
Eminé Rushton More by this author
May 20, 2019 at 07:15 AM

The aim of Vedic living is to enable us to perceive this ‘higher reality.’ But to get there, we need first lay the foundations. A muddled, busy, anxious mind won’t be ready to perceive anything beyond its own immediate situation. So, we need to clear the path, and the mind – so that it is silent and receptive enough to perceive the ‘truth’ within our own lives. If you’ve ever experienced a bout of wonderful decision-making, chances are it was at a time when you had taken the time to rest, reflect and feel into a situation – which led to a much clearer perspective (there’s a reason that so many people go away on holiday, sit by the sea, sleep, rest, breathe, and then return home and quit their life-sapping jobs).

At times such as this, we may also get an almost immediate result that helps us trust that we have made the right decision (e.g. you finally quit the job that you long dreaded, and a new project comes out of the blue, shortly after). And, if this might all begin to sound incredibly poetic, but somewhat unattainable – we’d ask you to think about a time, any time, when you have already felt it. Because we have all felt it at times – that clear, light, thankful, positive energy as we step back from the daily fray, and really absorb the loveliness of a particular moment. When we get that sneaking suspicion that taps us on the shoulder, as if to say, “when you smile, the whole world smiles with you.” When we begin to feel this happen – that life is actually on our side, or indeed, the universe has our back – we let our guard down. We stop fighting, fearing and fretting. We move, seamlessly and painlessly, from day to day, our own best intentions at heart, and realise that this is not selfish. Your best intentions are aligned with those of the world around you, too. To be truly generous and accepting of yourself is to be incredibly generous to others too – it is a warm smile, an unconditional welcome, an embrace. All around you will feel it, and want to remain close to it. When we say that love heals, this is what we really mean. If things come from a good place, they are almost always received in the same spirit.

Paul and I are both as pragmatic as we are intuitive, and we know that sometimes, even with our best intentions, life doesn’t always go to plan. Sometimes we’ll wake up with a big smile, full hearts, and lovely ideas – and our children will wake up grumpy, tetchy and tired! Weekend after weekend passed by with a similar pattern repeating itself, and it really challenged our family’s patience and happiness. Why, we wondered, when we work so hard to create an environment of ease and light, did our children wake up in bad moods? It wasn’t until I meditated on things for some time that I realised that we were very strongly imposing our expectations on our children – and that doing so brought stress, pressure and worry into our lives. We can no more engineer a perfect sunset than we can another’s sunny mood. But, we can – YOU can – decide to set intentions for your self, in a way that is entirely removed from your expectations of others.

(Eminé and Paul Rushton)

This is a very important facet of sattva – because it comes from you, deep inside you, and works towards the highest good. Intentions are also most powerful when unconditional: when we simply want to work towards the highest good because it is the right and natural thing to do – not because we believe it will deliver us a specific end goal or reward (e.g. love, beauty, wealth). Expectations on the other hand, are inherently conditional. We imagine what we want to achieve or receive from life, based on what we need, want or lack.

Sattva can be found in people who are accepting, not needing. Equanimous not expecting. Remember to feel into your heart, and ask yourself:

Is this my best unconditional and loving intention for myself?

Or is it my conditional expectation of what I feel I need to happen?

Remove your intentions from your expectations


Imagine creating a perfectly serene home environment – silence, white walls, carpets, candles, crystals, flowers – and then your children return home from school, jump on the furniture, knock over a vase and blow out the candles. You sit, as still as you can, while noise and chaos seem to build around you. How do you feel?

Now, imagine sitting in the midst of an untidy room. Someone is playing music a little loudly outside, there’s a pile of ironing in one corner, you haven’t had time to dust or vacuum, but you sit in the middle of it, on a comfortable cushion, and meditate. You come to, in your own time, and drink some water. Your children bound through the door a few minutes later, jumping on furniture and accidentally knocking over the washing. How do you feel?


It’s important to remove our expectations from our intentions. Life will never be picture perfect – and if you manage it, even for a moment, the pressure of wanting to maintain it is too great and utterly unsustainable.  We can seek to remove ourselves entirely from life, so that we may create an unsulliable environment with no external interference – but such an existence is not far-removed from a padded cell. To live fully and joyously, we must be part of the whole; we must unite, convene, share, gather and commune. Sattva, then, is more closely aligned not to that perfectly white and light image in exercise 1, but to the wholly imperfect experience in exercise 2. Life in all of its messy imperfection, with you, at its very centre – calm, in control, at ease – and accepting of the situation you are in.

Go deeper into Sattva - read Eminé & Paul's book! If you pre-order before June 6th you'll also get an exclusive cookery eBook, The Sattvic Kitchen, and a morning meditation.

About Author
Eminé Rushton
Eminé Rushton is the Conscious Living columnist for Psychologies magazine and co-founder with her partner, food writer Paul Rushton, of This Conscious Life, a blog that celebrates the joys of living Ayurved Continue reading