"I go walking in your landscape, broken branches trip me as I speak Just 'cause you feel it, Doesn't mean it's there, Just 'cause you feel it, Doesn't mean it's there ~ Radiohead
In the 1990's two psychologist coined the term emotional intelligence or EQ. They defined it as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Their groundbreaking work showed that EQ was a better indicator of long term success than IQ.
In Vedic Astrology the level of harmony between all the planets indicates our emotional intelligence; Jupiter (discernment), Saturn (planning ahead), Mercury (intellect/IQ), Sun (confidence), Mars (courage), Venus (equanimity of senses), Rahu (not grabbing), Ketu (letting go). For the purpose of this article I will focus on the Moon, which is our emotional filter and the primary indicator of the level of sustained happiness and success in life.
Yogic knowledge and EQ
All the Yogic Sciences have the goal of increasing our EQ, as strong feelings and emotions, like aversion and attachment are seen as the major stumbling blocks on the path of a yogi. Most of you are familiar with yogic aphorism "yoga chitta vritti nirodha." meaning that the objective of yoga is to calm the unfiltered emotional fluctuations of our senses and achieve stillness and clarity in the mind.
Ayurveda refers to the metabolic process that allows us to process, collect and store emotions in a meaningful way as Sadhak Pitta. This Pitta (fire element) subdosa is metabolically responsible for creating the coordination between the emotions, senses, thoughts and actions. Ayurveda's goal is to help the body/mind with balanced fuel and fire to adequately "cook" sensory emotional data into useful and intelligent bits of information. Without this ability good mental or physical health is not possible.
In Jyotish, the main indicator of our emotional intelligence is the condition of the moon and the fourth house, which are the emotional filters through which we experience our sense of safety and belonging in the world. When these are well disposed in the horoscope the odds of a balanced Sadhak Pitta are naturally achieved, otherwise it has to be cultivated through lifestyle, diet, herbs and spiritual practices.
Balanced Sadhak Pitta creates an even temperament, equanimity and a sense of fulfillment regardless of the circumstances. It gives the ability to navigate life's challenges and provides inspiration, courage, perseverance and determination to overcome obstacles. It gives emotional beauty and dynamism to the personality. It is diagnosed as out of balance when we easily lose control of our emotions and the resulting thoughts and actions that follow. This can show up as mood swings, depression, addictions, over sentimentality, insomnia, irritability, lack of motivation, impulsive action, revenge, anger or simply becoming overwhelmed with feelings.
Helping my clients strengthen their moon and fourth house is a very important part of my work because once we are able to objectively process our emotional impulses we are able to cope with most of life's ups and downs.
Interestingly, Sadhaka, which means having the will to pursue and accomplish, is also the word for disciple or spiritual initiate in Sanskrit. Other words with the same root are Sadhana, or the spiritual practice itself (i.e. prayer, mantra, meditation), and Sadhu or Siddha, describing those who have completed their discipleship.
As such, a spiritual disciple is one who is working at cultivating the ability to recognize and have appropriate control over their emotions. More specifically, using emotions and feelings as a gauge rather than the driver of our thoughts and action. Without a high level of emotional intelligence the motivation to stay on the spiritual path will not be there. Additionally, highly charged emotions often misinterpret or superficially assimilate even the highest of spiritual teachings. This is why all spiritual traditions place so much emphasis on sustained daily spiritual practices (sadhana) and not just intellectual understanding of the teachings.
Two decades ago when I first became a disciple of my guru Amma, I asked her how would I know that I was making spiritual progress with all the mantra and meditation practice I was doing. She surprised me with her answer when she said "you will know you are making spiritual progress when you can say the right thing to the right person at the right time".
You could say that a true spiritual disciple is one who is seeking emotional enlightenment.
Traumatic experiences, if not processed, digested, assimilated and eliminated leave scars on our body and mind and hold us responsible for emotions we have stored in our memories, even if we can't remember them.
Some people are able to process difficult emotions quickly, they have a "whatever happened attitude", which means they are much more able to get on with their lives after setbacks. Others process emotions very slowly and negative impressions hang around in their consciousness, with deep stress still lodged in the heart long after the event. Past traumas continue to impact their current actions and show up as depression sadness, lack of enthusiasm, inability to take action or "why me" attitude.
Finally, there are those who "overcook" or "speed cook" emotions, burning them up in the process, producing anger, rage, short-term thinking and uncontrollable passions or even reckless behavior.
Furthermore, this overcooking or undercooking of emotions fans Prana Vata (subdosha of Vata or air element) which regulates the intelligence of the body (hormones, neurotransmitters) so it can work in sync with our heart. This further aggravates the flame of sadhak pitta leading to acute Vata and Pitta imbalances in the body and mind.
Physiological Process of Digesting Emotions
In Ayurveda, it is believed that Sadhak pitta, or the fire that helps us digest emotional experiences, can go off balance due to nutritional deficiencies, toxins, prolonged stress, over exercise, lack of sleep, pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol/drugs, and long term perceived lack of emotional or financial support in life. Vaidya Mishra's SVA Ayurveda also recognizes the etiology of planetary influences, which can be equated to genetic factors, indicated by an afflicted moon/fourth house in the horoscope.
In reverse in Vedic Astrology, an afflicted moon/fourth house indicates lack of adequate or perceived support in life, especially during childhood and most specifically from the mother. This lack then spills over into our adult life and creates circumstances that don't allow us to create long term emotional bonds further perpetuating the problem and creating imbalance with Sadhak Pitta.
In western medicine and Ayurveda this metabolic process relates to creating stable oxygen and glucose levels in the brain, balancing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that are responsible for homeostasis (regulating body temperature) and regulating the hypothalamus that controls important hormones, the nervous system and the brain.
In other words, it is important to remember that our perceived feelings towards something or someone may not always be real, they may be skewed by physiological factors such as blood glucose levels and/or imbalanced hormones. Correcting the physiological factors is sometimes required before deep emotional therapy can be worked on.
Neurosciences also recognizes that emotional experiences of our inception and childhood, are recorded on our vast, interrelated neural networks, the record of which the astrologer sees in the moon/fourth house. According to Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, “early emotional experiences knit long-lasting patterns into the very fabric of the brain’s neural networks,” Our limbic system stores the highly charged emotional imprints and sets the tone for our emotional responses by filtering events as it sees fit and deciding which facts presented to us are relevant and which are not.
The moon is a very sensitive planet, it takes very little for it to lose its natural sustaining, cooling, nourishing quality and instead produce anxiety and angst in the mind and body . Therefore, pretty much all of us will have some affliction to our moons. However, some of the most difficult positions for the moon are Moon in the eighth or twelfth house, Moon in Scorpio and Moon conjunct Saturn or Rahu, without any influence of benefics such as Jupiter or Venus.
In other words if the the astrological indications are not so good, our emotional filter may be a little murky. While, we cannot choose our parents/family or the type of Moon/fourth house we inherited in our horoscope, we can choose to break free from the instinctual and emotional patterns that we keep repeating. The first step is to recognize that our emotional baggage is coloring our feelings, thoughts and actions. A difficult Moon/fourth house can often become better producers of happiness and emotional intelligence because they force us to work through our psychological blocks.
In the words of Byron Katie, first we have to question our thoughts and feelings and meet as a friend every strong concept that arises in our mind. I recommend her book - Question your Thinking, change the World.
Saturn's, job is to purify and clean up the mess other planets leave behind. During sade sati when Saturn transits the natal moon (which signifies our mind and our memories) he pushes to the surface any locked away undigested or uncooked emotions . He forces us to deal with the limits of the personality, which is our emotional filter. If the moon is well disposed or free from emotional damage, it does not struggle in Sade Sati and this period can give very good results.
The best test of the level of our emotional intelligence is how we react in the first stages of romance and love, as they produce a biological state that has been described by psychologists as being similar to a cocaine high and it is easy to over get hurt, rejected, disappointed or over react and rush the relationship.
Furthermore, finding a mate is not just our most basic biological impulse but also the main mechanism for survival as a species. This hard wiring further distorts our perceptions of reality in the situation and causes us to see to see the relationship from a rose colored emotional filter.
In fact, all the ancient compatibility techniques in Vedic Astrology, which have been used for thousands of years in India to arrange marriages are based primarily on the placement of the moon at the time of birth. In other words, compatibliity of long term relationships is based on the deepest emotional needs we carry in our subconscious. and not neccesarily the superficial attunment we feel in the early parts of a relationship.
Vedic Astrologers rely on psychological counseling, mantras, yajnas (vedic fire rituals), gems and other more occult methods to help their clients with planetary afflictions. They would be well served if they incorporated Ayurvedic prescriptions, of herbs, food and lifestyle, which are often easier for clients to follow.
There are many ancient herbal formulas in Ayurveda which balance Sadhak Pitta and can help with the cleaning of our emotional filter, such as the rejuvenating tonic Chywnanprash, which contains over 40 herbs designed specifically to safely balance hormones and neurotransmitters in the body. Ancient teachings say this tonic promotes emotional harmony and marital or conjugal bliss by strengthening both male and female physiologies.
In part II of this article we will look further at Ayurvedic herbal remedies and lifestyle recommendations to balance our Sadhak Pitta - the fire that cooks emotions.