In the summer months, it is common for tensions to grow, tempers to rise and patience to dwindle. These are just a few of the many signs of excess pitta dosha that are easy to get caught up in. However, if our goal is to have balance in body and mind, it’s important to remember that pitta, just like all the doshas, serves a positive purpose in our lives too.
Focusing only on the negative side of the doshas makes us lose sight of the direction we should be heading. This is why when I was writing the dosha lesson in Hale Pule’s 600-hour Ayurvedic health counselor program, I made a point to include the many positive aspects present when vata, pitta and kapha are well balanced. When we can talk about pitta in both its balanced and imbalanced states, we can more easily recognize what it feels like when life comes into balance, and quickly turn things around when we start to move away from that.
The power of pitta
Pitta brings many great things to our lives. It is is the transformative power in our bodies and minds that turns food into nutrients and experience into understanding. This is beneficial on many levels, bringing about organization, strong leadership and the ability to digest life experiences. But there is one more wonderful aspect of balanced pitta: the ability to easily discern what is in your best interest and what is not. This quality is present as tejas.
Prana, tejas and ojas: The subtle aspects of the doshas
Each of the doshas has a subtle aspect, meaning a form that is experienced as energy instead of matter. Vata dosha is associated with prana, or life force. Kapha is associated with ojas, or vitality. Tejas is the subtle aspect of pitta dosha.
Just like the doshas, these subtle aspects all work together and influence one another. With balanced prana, tejas and ojas, we are able to do what will result in our highest good and experience the effects.
Tejas is best understood as the aspect of pitta that raises consciousness. Tejas brings discernment, or the spark of higher intelligence. Though balanced tejas can make pursuing a path of education easier, it is different from being “book smart.” Instead, it is the ability to say “yes” to the things we want and “no” to what doesn’t serve us. It glows as an inner light that allows us to see truth from reality and know who we should listen to and when we need to walk away.
Tejas grows over a long period of time as a direct reflection of the expansion of our consciousness (a process that is supported by prana, tejas and ojas being nurtured together). Tejas stays relatively stable as it expands. This is different from pitta dosha itself, which shifts quickly. To understand the difference, think of how quickly signs of excess pitta dosha can decrease by eating cooling foods. Then look back at the course of your life -- has your ability to make decisions gotten steadily stronger in the past decades? If so, it is a sign that of the steady growth of tejas.
The effects of too much tejas
As the subtle aspect of pitta, tejas is also related to the fire element. Although tejas brings many great outcomes, it can go to excess. Here it can cause a person to burn through all the good in life and see only what they perceive is getting in their way. This creates dissatisfaction, criticism and can affect the flow of prana and burn up ojas.
Tejas burns too hot from an imbalanced focus on intellectual pursuits and not enough softness. For instance, someone who is pursuing a graduate degree while working full time will experience imbalanced tejas. They may become impatient or critical and become a lot less fun to be around. But when tejas is balanced, a person will shine with inspiration and an openness to life.
If you find that tejas is high, focus on practices to calm pitta dosha, especially in the mind, and expand your awareness of yourself as an integral part of the universe. Here are a few thoughts on how to bring this fire back to balance:
I encourage my clients to point themselves in the direction of balance. Even if you experience symptoms of excess pitta this summer, you can remember the positive aspects of the doshas and notice how many things are going right in your body and mind.
A shift in perspective toward the positive is sometimes all it takes to change your life for the better. And when you combine this attitude shift with a consistent Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle, you will experience an expansion of health and well-being that goes far deeper than you could have ever imagined.