The Ayurveda way to deal with emotional intelligence

Prof. Dr. Abhimanyu Kumar

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an integral part of our ‘body-mind-soul’ triad which is very well linked with our Prakriti (Ayurveda body-mind constitution) by way of characters imbibed in Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Sattva, Raja and Tama; at physical and mental level. Ayurveda principles explore the potential of our body & mind and offers best opportunity to all of us to excel in every field of our life. In real sense it’s better understanding provides us the key to success. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EI helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life's challenges.

Understanding our mind (mana) is the starting point to explore the mystery of Emotional Intelligence. Mind is one and only one though it may appear to be many due to the multiplicity of mental objects which are innumerable and create multiple impulses in the mind. The combination of three qualities of Rajas, Tamas and Sattva also have their effect on the mind and mental activities and these in turn cause the appearance of multifaceted mind. In true sense a mind acts on a single subject at a time. So the mind is one in each person. This mind has its distinct characteristics in each person as it may have been affected by the qualities and individual traits. This trait in the mental make-up of a person contributes to create his/her own individuality. Whatever trait manifests most frequently in a man's mental make-up, of that mentality he/she is said to be. The combinations of the traits, impulses and the qualities are innumerable so the Prakriti (personalities) too are innumerable. That means, each person has his own personality in accordance with this combination and the predominance of a quality and a trait. Each person is made out of the same elements, qualities and their combinations, still however, he/ she is unique and is an epitome of the universe. Ayurveda says- 'Man is the epitome of the universe(Macrocosm). There is in person as much diversity as in the world outside; and there is in the world as much diversity as in the person.'

Ayurveda provides insight about the three main functions of the mind i.e. perception, cognition and emotion. These functions can be classified and named differently but in the context of the psychological application in Ayurveda, this threefold general classification is more suitable. A review of the theory of cognition and perception, it is necessary to know the theory of conation, emotion and motivation in Ayurveda. It is already mentioned that the intellect or reasoning is having the power of decision-making. But there are emotional forces which affect the intellect, reasoning, and the life itself and its goal.  Three indeed are the pursuits that should be followed by every- man who is possessed of unimpaired intelligence, understanding, energy and enterprise and who wishes to secure his good both in this world and hereafter. These are the pursuits of life, the pursuits of wealth and the pursuits of the other world (salvation). These are the three main drives and motives in the life of every person. The first among them is the drive for long and healthy life as it is the basis of the other two.

Ayurveda mentions that envy, grief, fear, anger, pride, hatred, and the like are the affections of the mind (manovikaras) due to perversion of the intuitive knowledge (prajnaparadha). Confusion of such intellect is the root of all unwholesome emotions. Sorrow is due to comprehension of non-eternal things as eternal due to the confusion of the intellect (buddhivibhransha), lack of self-control and lapse of right memory.

Ayurveda explains that there is a reciprocal relation between feeling and desire. Pleasure is the cause of desire and aversion is the cause of pain. Both these are kinds of desire, pleasure and pain are mental modes. When the mind is concentrated on the self and acquires a pure vision of it, pleasure and pain are no longer experienced. All wrong desires or emotional perversities are due to prajnaparadha. At the root of all these is grasping. It itself is sorrowful and is the cause of all sorrows. All sorrows can be got rid by the removal of this grasping. Prompted by the grasping and vitiated by prajnaparadha, the mind gives rise to emotional abnormalities like too much attachment, aversion, anger etc. At the back of all these are the confusion of intelligence, lack of self-control and lack of real knowledge. The word Prajna means wisdom or mental inclinations when it is steady, while the word ‘aparadh’ means violation. When the mind is upset by Rajas and Tamas, prajnaparadha takes place. It affects Emotional intelligence in a big way.

The theory of Emotional Intelligence (EI) promises to predict and improve the life skills of individuals. The proponents of the theory believe that in understanding, analyzing and managing emotions in themselves and others, lies the key to an improved quality of life. Salovey and Mayer (1990) first defined EI as an – ‘ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and use this information to guide one’s thinking and action’.

The concept provides evidence on how people with a good IQ sometimes fail and those who were school dropouts and considered stupid go on to become the most successful ones in their fields. There are a set of various prakriti characteristics which decide a person’s emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is a cognitive ability based on prakriti characters (trait) and can be emphasized on emotional perception, emotional assimilation, understanding and management. Emotional self-awareness, self-control, empathy, problem solving, conflict management, leadership, etc. as the characteristics of an emotionally intelligent person. The mixed ability model of Emotional Intelligence proposes that how the Prakriti (personality traits) influence a person’s general wellbeing and workplace success.

Prakriti understands emotional intelligence as a cognitive ability and presents the four levels through which a person becomes emotionally intelligent- emotional perception, emotional assimilation, emotional understanding and emotional management. The first step emotional perception is an ability to be self-aware of emotions and to express them accurately. When a person is aware of the emotions he/she is experiencing, he/she moves on to the next level – emotional assimilation. This ability leads him to emotional understanding – an ability to understand complex emotions and also to recognize the transition from one emotion to another. By then he/she becomes adept in dealing with his emotions and thus is able to manage his emotions by connecting to or disconnecting from any emotion at any given situation. This gives him complete control over his impulses and is thus able to think, analyze and behave rationally in any situation. The entire process is purely an intellectual procedure. Status of this whole process varies in case of different types of Prakriti (physical as well as mental).

Emotional intelligence relates to the potential for performance and success, rather than performance or success itself, and is considered process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented. It strives to identify in a person the latent capability of being emotionally intelligent. It includes five components – intrapersonal, interpersonal, adaptability, stress management and general mood components. Along with the aspect of emotional self-awareness, self-control, self-expression, and empathy; the ability to assess the relation between the emotionally experienced and the actual nature of an object, stress tolerance, and the strength to stay happy and optimistic in the face of adversity. organizational awareness, leadership, teamwork and collaboration.

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