10 Pairs of Opposites: Soft & Hard
This is a 10-part series where I will be reviewing each of the 10 pairs of Opposites (AKA qualities or Gunas) in depth.
Everything in this Universe (man made and natural, physical and abstract) are based off the five elements; Ether (Space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. From these five elements, the Rishis (or Ayurvedic Seers) determined that there were 10 pairs of Opposites that are used to view the Universe and restore balance. Through observation, palpation, and questioning an Ayurvedist will see where you have excess or depleted gunas, and work to restore them to their proper ratio.
These gunas impact everything!!
Soft (Mṛdu) and Hard (Kathina)
Soft and Hard – like an avocado. You have the hard pit of the avocado and the mhmm tasty softness that allows me to make guacamole. Hard and Soft is constantly seen hand in hand, think of your couch or that comfy chair you love to read on. It’s got squishy soft pillows but a hard structure supporting you and those pillows.
Physiological / Body – Soft & Hard
Soft areas in the body don’t only include the fluffy factor that all of us have in the belly area, or maybe it is just me because of my love of cookies. But we all need a little adipose tissue, or fat, it’s what helps us stay warm. We have lots of squishy organs in our torso and that big one that helps us think that we store in our head.
Hard areas in the body are typically the things that give us our structure, aka our bones!
Hard and Soft can also be great descriptors for how we talk about what is going on in the body. Do you have hard constipation type poops? Or soft no-structure diarrhea? (By the way, Ayurveda LOVES to talk about your poop, and want you to have healthy poops. All things in balance)
As we are starting to explore these concepts, too much of something is a bad thing. Too much softness can sometimes look like plaque in the blood stream or on our teeth. Too much hardness can end up become too brittle and cause osteoporosis or weakening in the bones.
Psychological / Mind – Soft & Hard
A hard head is a dense one. Sure, that could indicate a larger skull, but in the mental realm this more means someone who must have it their way and nothing will change their mind. We all know someone like that!
A soft head can be a maybe a little gullible or naïve. Someone who isn’t looking at the world in such a sharp manner, or maybe is too easily swayed.
A perfect mental balance is having the gumption to stick to your morals, but still able to hear someone else’s approach.
Emotional / Spiritual – Soft & Hard
Soft emotions can be like a gullible mind, these can be the people that others take advantage of. They are very kind, almost potentially too kind and enabling of other people’s bad habits. Spiritually these can be the type of people who only notice their deity while in the bedroom, a traumatic event or a major holiday.
Hard emotions can be thought of like having a calcified emotional heart. Someone who is avoiding emotions at all costs and who doesn’t want to deal with anything on this realm.
It’s important to find that balance; softly approaching the emotional world, while still having some healthy boundaries.
External Environment – Soft & Hard
Winter weather can be a great example of how a season can house the same pair of opposites. The softness of a fluffy white snow, the kind you just want to make a snowball with. Great soft example. Ice storms are the opposite. Hard and rather unpleasant in my mind.
In the house we have the comforting hard wood floors with the softness of a rug underfoot.
Using these opposites can help us to better describe the world; for example, it is SO hard to get out of my soft comfy bed in the mornings.
Ayurveda looks at using opposite qualities to reduce the excess. Please keep in mind that the human body is a complex system. Talk to an Ayurvedist before trying to balance things on your own.
Heightening awareness is always the first step in Ayurveda, and you can do that safely in your own home. How often does Hard and Soft play out in your everyday life, do you resonate with one more than the other? How does your body use Hard and Soft to tell you what is going on physiologically?