Intro to Ojas
While kapha, pitta, and vata are the gross doshas which control the functioning of the physical body, ojas, tejas, and prana are the subtle doshas that govern the functioning of the subtle body. The subtle body is the energetic body (chakras, nadis, etc.) and it governs the mind and consciousness. It’s the space that we don’t see, but as our inner awareness and intuitive senses strengthen, we feel and connect to more and more.
Yogis learn to hone in on and use prana, tejas, and ojas as a way to bring about higher awareness, mental clarity and stability, peace of mind, and bliss. Ultimately, prana, tejas, and ojas allows us to evolve spiritually and liberate ourselves from the trappings of the mind and physical world.
It’s believed that everything that manifests in the physical body comes from the subtle body (our consciousness, our mind, our intuition, our energy and the energy we pick up on). The mind controls everything. If we don’t deal with the mental and psychological imbalances we experience, they turn into physical imbalances of the doshas. Trauma or stress that is not dealt with on an emotional or psychological level becomes lodged in the body and creates disease and granthis (psychic knots that manifest as tension, anxiety, pain, etc.).
By bringing focus and attention to the subtle doshas, we gain greater control of our body and senses, and therefore the way we show up in the world and respond to stimulus (or lack thereof).
Ojas is the subtle form of kapha dosha. As such, it has the same qualities and actions as kapha dosha, but on an energetic level. In the physical body, ojas is the force which provides strength and stability to the body and immune system. On a subtle level, ojas is our emotional stability, our ability to endure and respond appropriately to stress in our day to day life, and our ability to protect our own energy and have healthy boundaries. In it’s purest form, ojas is absolute bliss, peace, and contentment.
A person with balanced ojas is not easily pulled out of equanimity. There’s an innate belief and faith within them that everything works out and they are safe and carried in all they do. They have a strong mental stamina and a peaceful, calm, loving demeanor to them. A person with strong ojas has a strong physical immune system and is ultimately immune to the disturbances or diseases within the mind. In the same way that kapha is that which holds everything together within the body, ojas is the container for the two other subtle doshas, prana and tejas. Ojas must be strong and stable so that prana and tejas can do their work and the yogi can expand to the greatest degree. If ojas is weak, the other subtle doshas will flow out beyond their container and wreak serious havoc within the mind-body. It’s said in the Caraka Samhita that if ojas is destroyed, the human being will also perish.
Ojas in excess will manifest as a person who has no real desire to journey further on their path spiritually. There’s no motivation to look within or think deeply. They become complacent and overly content with where they are in the moment, and personal growth comes to a full stop.
Deficient ojas will cause a lack of contentment altogether. There is never a sense of satisfaction or joy, even when things seem great from the outside. A person who lacks ojas may lose their sense of grounded reality and mental stability, which can lead to serious mental breakdowns.
We can increase our Ojas through nourishing, sweet, unctuous foods. Increasing healthy fats and oils such as ghee, nuts, and avocados is a great place to start. Ayurveda also recommends naturally sweet, grounding foods like dates and honey, as well as wholesome grains and raw milk to build ojas. These kinds of foods provide the mind with a sense of ease, joy, and pleasure. These are very important components to ojas! The mind and body need to know that there is abundance all around them, that they are welcome and allowed to take up space, and that life is sweet and nourishing.
Medjool dates with ghee is a popular ojas-building snack. I love making Ojas balls! You can use any particulars you like, but essentially just blend nuts, dates, honey, and spices together until smooth and then roll them into little ball shapes. It’s such a yummy, nourishing snack.
Since ojas levels are affected by the levels of prana and tejas within us, we can protect our ojas container by keeping prana and tejas in check. Next week we’ll go over prana, and then the following week we’ll cover tejas. Stay tuned in to learn about all three of the subtle doshas!