When Vata elements (light, mobile, rough, dry, cold, hard) start to rise we can become imbalanced from our nature. This increased vata can cause us to act impulsively. This can be a problem.

When we talk about impulsivity, it often gets romanced into the idea of spontaneity. These are not the same—no really, they are not!

When we act impulsively we simply react to a thought without any awareness. The thought enters your mind to change the subject to tell a story you love. (cough, cough) The person speaking cannot finish their thought and this is disruptive. It might cause agitation in the other or be jolting. Spontaneous activity is unplanned, but not jolting and is generally a response to a thought. Impulsivity is a reaction to a thought.

Sometimes it is difficult to understand the “gunas” or (qualities of the doshas) in our behaviors. The major difference here is consciousness and elemental. The vata impulsivity is hard and light. The spontaneous response to your thought is light as well but soft.

Finding balance, understanding the “pause” between your impulse to act and taking action offers vata a chance to practice sattva… the quality of mind that offerces clarity, calm and balance.

When I think of this I think of taking a breath between my inital impulse to take action, or comment and then considering the thought again. Thus becoming spontaneous in action without the rub of impulsivity.

(Inhale) Impulsivity is reactive and (Exhale) Spontaneity is responsive.