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Grassroots Ayurveda in the 21st Century

What Dosha What Job

The Best Job For Your Doshas

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How to know what job or vocation best suits your ayurvedic profile?

Knowing the dosha or doshas that dominate in your psychological constitution, your mental prakriti, can help you understand what kind of work you are best suited to. It can also help you adjust your attitude and approach towards work, as well as how to preempt for the risks of occupational hazards.

Most popular books about ayurveda present a useful, but somewhat facile approach to this subject, prescribing such-and-such a career for such-and-such a dosha.

  • Being a musician or an artist (a ‘creative’ occupation) is often cited as being best suited to vata types, who exemplify the airy, wandering, unpredictable nature of wind, which is the essence of creativity.
  • Fiery pitta types are said to be best suited to jobs like law or science, where a perseverance and hunger for knowledge are essential.
  • Kapha types, sure and steady, are supposed to do best in management or caring positions where a long-term vision and patience are needed.

These generalizations are useful but limited. My experience is that to make use of ayurveda in the context of career guidance, we really need to understand the nature of our doshic makeup and how this translates to our behavioral tendencies, emotional character, intellectual capacity and our basic motivational drives. Assessing our aptitude to a particular job depends on our investigation of these and other dimensions that contribute to our unique makeup.

What motivates you?

Perhaps the most useful question to ask is “what motivation lies behind my actions?”

Your dominant dosha will ‘drive you’ according to its qualities a.k.a ‘gunas’. These qualities will motivate you according to their nature. The qualities of your dominant dosha or doshas will express themselves, whether you like it or not, with relative ease: these gunas come naturally to you. Let’s take a look at this:

Vata dosha is like the wind: highly mobile, dynamic, changing direction often, highly adaptable, gusty (all-or-nothing), turbulent, quick, light, superficial, pervasive, unsteady, dispersive. It is contained by the sky: vast, non-resistant, empty, spacious.

  • Vata dominant minds are ever curious and creative, fundamentally motivated by the need for change and stimulation.
  • Vata helps use to create novelty from nothingness, when ideas come from no where, vata is the cause. Vata helps us to connect seemingly unrelated dots on a page to form new interesting patterns.

Pitta dosha is like fire: hot, intense, penetrating, radiant, bright, mobile, spreading out movement, expansive, light. It is contained or tempered by water, which adds some liquidity and stability to fire’s intensity and lightness.

  • Pitta dominant minds are fundamentally motivated by the need to have a goal, a challenge, something to get their teeth into, to digest, to understand and assimilate deeply.
  • Pitta helps us to take many elements together and make sense or order from them. Pitta is quick to assemble meaning and order out of complex multi-variant situations.
  • Pitta can be fast, but unlike vata, there is more intensity, purpose and steadiness behind each endeavor.

Kapha dosha is like phlegm: gelatinous and sticky. It is also like wet clay: heavy, immobile, dense, solid, smooth and moist, cool.

  • Kapha dominant minds are fundamentally motivated by the need to create security and stability, comfort and cohesion.
  • Kapha is interested in building wealth and well-being for the future, so long-term projects are often carried through to their termination thanks to the kapha in us.

What do you love about your work?

Now let’s apply some of these ideas to understanding why certain people love the work they do. The idea is that if your work allows you to express yourself according to your innate doshic makeup, you will be in your element, or at least, your work will flow relatively naturally to you.

Vata types love their work if it affords them plenty of change, renewal, variety, novelty, stimulation, freedom to move and think relatively freely. If their work permits a healthy amount of unstructured experimentation and exploration, they will love and thrive in this context.

Pitta types need their work to be going somewhere; it needs to be goal oriented, clearly structured. There can be a preference for moderate to high levels of pressure and intensity. Exploration and experimentation are fine, but will be more calculated and focused than for vata.

Kapha types do best at jobs that allow them to express their need to establish security, comfort and stability for themselves and their community. The motivation can be to earn a good steady living, or to nurture others, or to provide a good reliable service. They prefer low stress work environments and like the comfort of routine. Slow and steady rule so if experimentation or exploration are required, it will be conducted with the most careful attention to detail, and take time to be completed and reach maturity.

My main point in this article is to break apart the notion that all nurses are kapha motivated, or all teachers pitta motivated, or all fashion designer vata motivated. This just simply doesn’t correlate with what we see in society, where in reality, you get all types of people doing all sorts of jobs.

The key to understanding your doshic involvement in your vocation, be it professional or domestic is to ask yourself what is your approach to the activity, what comes easy to you, what do you most love about what you do.

The Rolling DoshasHere are some examples:

Nursing: vata loves the variety of people and encounters, the variety of different procedures, the opportunity to change hospitals on a frequent basis. Pitta loves the challenge of being efficient, articulate and educational in their approach to caring. Kapha loves the human contact, the selfless role of caring and comforting patients.

Teaching: vata loves the opportunity to find new metaphors and teaching methods to convey the same basic material each year. Pitta feeds of the challenge of controlling a group of students, finding ways to better explain things or organize the teaching to help students get the best grades possible. Kapha enjoys stability of the educational institution, as well as the sense of community and solidarity among staff and motivated parents.

Chef: vata loves the opportunity to innovate, trying out new things, creating something from nothing on a whim. Pitta gets a kick from the challenge of creating something very meticulous in very little time, and knowing they will be praised for their mastery. Kapha likes the fact that they are feeding people, it’s a good steady job, plus they just love to be surrounded by food because it is comforting in nature.

These short examples should whet your appetite for more thorough investigations. In reality, our suitability to a particular kind of work situation depends on many factors, not just our mental prakriti. However, if our daily occupation fills us with joy and satisfaction, chances are we have found something that corresponds to our unique nature, which is largely due to our doshic blueprint.

It is probably clear from the above examples that your job title says little about your attitude towards work, your motivations. So try to find out your motivations and ask “does this match my ayurvedic mental type?”

Three Skill Sets

What is interesting is that most vocations require all three doshas, all three life principles. If you do a good job, chances are you are mixing all three skill sets together:

  • Vata, the principle of movement provides: coordination, communication, inspiration, conception, curiosity, excitement, innovation, exploration, trying-new-things-out.
  • Pitta, the principle of transformation provides: insight, understanding, calculation, implementation, logistics, drive, courage, determination, passion, desire to succeed and be recognized for it.
  • Kapha, the principle of cohesion provides: stability, support, patience, perseverance, commitment, follow-through, caution, foresight, stopping-power.

We all have access to these different skill sets, and we can all cultivate them with awareness, choice, training and will-power. That said, if we are vata-pitta natured, we will find it easier to cultivate the vata-pitta skills, and less so the kapha ones. Same applies for the other single or mixed types.

A balancing act

As well as finding the work that best suits you, that ‘goes with the grain’ so to speak, you should also pay attention to keeping balance, avoiding the common pitfalls inherent in your particular area of expertise.

Here’s an example: when you love your work because it is changeable, unstructured, liberated, dare I say it ‘unorganized’, this fits the skill set of a vata type, who is happy as a sand boy in this scenario. Push this to the extreme however and your vata will become so active that it will begin to deter from your overall physical and mental harmony. To much of a good thing… You know where i am going with this!

If you over-embrace your work and go at it totally according to your unique style, with little self-awareness and self-respect, you will eventually either blow out (vata), burn out (pitta) or sink (kapha).

Life is an inherent juxtaposition of opposites. We all need a little bit of this and a little bit more of that and so on. So in an attempt to define a ‘perfect work scenario’ for the doshas, keep in mind the need to maintain balance.

If your mojo rocks to the tune of vata, you will tend to overexploit your innate airy and spacey traits while undervalue pitta’s fiery intensity and kapha’s earthy stability. As you mature into life, you will see how a little sacrifice, a little remedial compensation, can go a long way.

For example, as a vata-pitta type I like to have several projects on the go (vata) and to attempt to do them all quite intensely (pitta). I get carried away, burn the midnight oil, then begin to suffer from tiredness etc. At this point, I have a choice: drink coffee and push on, or reign in and take a break. I also have the choice as to whether to allow my daily ‘hygiene’ to follow my innate haphazard pattern of vata, or to try cultivate at least a modicum of regularity and routine (a kapha trait).

What turns you on at work?

Fancy sharing? Why not complete the survey below.

Choose the answer that most fits your reasons for liking your work or vocation…

© copyright 2013 Alex Duncan

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