10 Pairs of Opposites: Heavy & Light
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!!
Heavy (Guru) and Light (Laghu)
Heavy and Light. In our society, heavy is typically seen as “bad”. Sure obesity is an epidemic our country is facing, but not all heavy things are bad. In fact, football players are pretty heavy with all that muscle (and quite sexy too, I’m thinking of you Saquon Barkley of my beloved NY Giants).
Sleep and wakefulness are great examples of light and heavy. Being awake is our light time, we are up and moving and doing things. Activity aids in that light feeling. But you need a good deep / heavy sleep for restfulness. Without these two qualities playing out in a balanced way every day, we start to get impacted fast; sleep deprivation, foggy brain, cloudy thoughts, more couch potato needs, or even becoming slap happy.
Physiological / Body – Heavy & Light
Heavy is a good thing in the body, it can demonstrate healthy muscles, and we need the heaviness of gravity to get our blood all the way to our tippy toes and back again. But as always there can be too much of a good thing. Too heavy can mean obesity, and thick blood / plaque can cause heart attacks and high blood pressure.
Healthy light in the body, can mean the lightness of our bones, we need those light spaces so that we can physically move about and it can also be the lightness of the lungs allowing air to come in and out fairly easily. (And I think I read somewhere that breathing is important!) But too light can be unhealthy, if those same light bones become too light it might mean osteoporosis or bones that snap easily.
Psychological / Mind – Heavy & Light
Ever heard the saying “A heavy heart”. The mind and the heart are closely connected, and sometimes depression, grief, or sadness can cause us to feel really heavy. On the healthy side though, the mind needs to take time to make decisions, not doing anything too “lightly”. (see how many sayings we have that include these qualities?)
A light heart or mind might indicate happiness or joy. That’s a good thing! But when the mind becomes too light it might seem like someone isn’t taking things too seriously, they might become flighty, or indecisive.
Emotional / Spiritual – Heavy & Light
Heaviness can lead to depression or inactivity. The mind and body are so closely connected and when they are bogged down by heaviness, they might cause a person to struggle to get out of bed or lose that spark of joy. The healthy version of heaviness is known as grounded. Grounded people tend to be the ones you lean towards in a crisis, they are levelheaded and are consistent. By meditating you can help bolster this healthy heaviness.
Lightness of the heart, allows for new communication and ideas to enter. These people tend to be open minded and not as defensive. They do however need a little heaviness to make sure they don’t become gullible.
External Environment – Heavy & Light
Seattle and surrounding areas are a great example of how places can be both heavy and light. The heavy side is seen in the constant heavy rains and moist air. I swear I never once saw the sun during the winter months, and that type of dark heavy cold winter really impacted my seasonal depression. This is something I already struggle with, but to have my environment reflecting my mental state of mind… it was too much. That being said the lightness of a Seattle summer. There is so much sun and fresh air, and my heart just about burst with joy and gladness. Seattle’s natural beauty and porch drinking weather all summer long was like a balm on my mental health.
Seattle also shows us the non-weather side of how our environment can impact us. Seattle can be thought of heavy or non-moving because the traffic there is awful! I lived 10 miles away from my office, and it was a solid 30-45 minute drive home every day! Seattle is also light and full of movement, because it is a very movement oriented city. Everyone wants to be outside running, jogging, or biking. It’s a city with a ton of things to do, and people take full advantage of it. Because of that there is a lightness, that borders on the unhealthy. Too much movement and not enough down time for relaxation or sleep.
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. Take a look at the heavy and light aspects of your internal and external life. We didn’t talk much about it here, but how is your food too heavy or too light? Are you eating too little or too much, is the food you do consume satiating or not?