This sutra describes the meaning of Yoga, and all other sutras explain this one. Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain that focus in that direction without distractions.
PRACTICAL LIVING “yoga” here refers to the philosophy of Yoga, the school of thought that was transmitted for centuries from teacher to student and compiled by Patanjali in this text. It can also refer to a state of mind: one which is filled with clarity, peace, wisdom and joy. The mind (citta), like a young puppy, needs to be trained. The more we train the puppy to pee outside, the more it does that. The more we orient the mind towards thoughts and ideas that are constructive, the more it goes there. “vrtti” refers to the activities of the mind. As most of us know, the mind can jump from one thought to another quite fast. It’s not so much that the chatter is bad, it’s what the chatter is about that makes it bad. What we choose to focus on becomes our life therefore we should make sure it’s something that we value and brings us joy. “nirodhah” is like being a maestro of a big symphony – there are many musicians with different instruments – the maestro is in charge of directing them all towards a beautiful place. Many of us spend hours focusing on objects (thoughts, emotions, people, situations, belief systems) that bring us anger, resentment, frustration and stress. In summary: choose – focus – sustain. What causes us not to sustain?
- FEAR: of failure, success, loneliness, abandonment, not being loved?
- DISTRACTION: the senses are powerful!
- LACK OF COMMITMENT: back to Sutra I.1 – nowadays, we have so many (or too many) choices!
IN THE YOGA WORLD We can explore this topic from another angle as well. “yoga” could also refer back to the clear state of mind one gets when they realize that there is something beyond the body, thoughts and emotions: our inner light, soul, spirit…or whatever your favorite word/concept is. In order for this to happen, a clear mind is necessary, which implies that it is not easily distracted. By “citta”, Patanjali referred to different aspects of the mind: the manas (composed of the senses, which are constantly gathering information and partying consistently in the brain); the ahamkara (the ego, the part of us that relates everything to “I”), and the buddhi (the intellect, which digests sensory information and formulates ideas). In order to move towards a peaceful state of yoga, we need to train all levels of the citta. “nirodha” refers to that training, from an agitated and energy-inefficient state, to a peaceful and detached one. Yes, in order to focus, we are required to let go of some things (more on detachment in a few sutras). As we let go, the mind becomes clearer and lighter…ahhhhhh…
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON I met this man twice in my life. Not only has he inspired me to finally begin this blog, but he also added a whole new level to it: the humanistic part of it. He reminded me that relationships are one of the most important things in life to keep the mind happy, in peace, and feel loved. His recent project, (www.thegiftprolific.com) involved spending 365 days of gifting: every day he would give something to someone and later paint about it. AND, at the end, he built a gallery at an art festival in the desert and gifted all of his amazing paintings to the lucky people who found him! A smile covers my face as I write about this person. Joshy is a living, walking and painting example of this sutra. Thank you for choosing to focus on something that was so meaningful both to you and, at least another 365 people!
Are you creating a delicious life by focusing on what you want? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and we will look at what a state of yoga leads to next week!