प्रमाण विपर्यय विकल्प निद्रा स्मृतयः
The five activities of the mind are: correct comprehension (pramana), misapprehension (viparyaya), imagination (vikalpa), deep dreamless sleep (nidra), and memory (smrti).
PRACTICAL LIVING It is easier to understand the mind by observing its activities than to describe it as its own entity. The recent presidential election and campaign in the United States is a useful scenario to explore and describe these activities. Presidential candidates use Memory/Smrti to remind us either of wonderful things they have done for the poor/rich, or horrible things their opponent has done. Imagination/Vikalpa is a powerful tool that politicians use to take our minds into the future and imagine a beautiful world under their presidency – this is closely linked to smrti/memory. The presidential debates and their campaigns can bring a lot of Misunderstanding/Viparyaya as facts get distorted, the ego becomes more important than the nation, and as winning becomes more important than telling the truth. Many of us voted believing we experience Pramana/Correct Understanding in this topic. Do we? I think I need some Deep Sleep/Nidra and hopefully tomorrow will bring a little more clarity 🙂
IN THE YOGA WORLD Yoga also tells us we can experience 5 different states of mind, from gross to subtle. Ksipta is the unsteady, restless, monkey-mind, associated to rajas (a fire-like state). Mudha, on the other hand, is a dull, deluded mind where tamas (a rock-like state) is predominant. Vikshepa is a distracted, confused, oscillating mind, which achieves concentration randomly but loses it quickly. This is where we are most of the time: fluctuating from rajas to tamas. Ekagrata is one-pointed focus, where sattva (balance) is predominant. Finally, nirodhah is total absorption, where a person rests in their own nature (refer to Sutra I.3). In yoga, the gradual movement occurs from gross to subtle, from vikshepa to nirodha, from viparyaya (misunderstanding) to pramana (correct comprehension). The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali offers us several tools to allow this movement to occur.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Robert is my yoga teacher, or my “Target Buddha”. Long story short: I
went to India in 2004 with the hope of finding an Indian mystical guru who would miraculously cure me. 6 months later I left India teacher-less. Against my judgmental mind, I found a fabulous yoga teacher in Los Angeles. Just like the teacher I never found in India, I never found a Buddha statue. And similarly to finding an American teacher in the entertainment capital of the world, I found a Buddha that smiled at me at Target – yes, the giant retail store 🙂 Robert guides me to use gratitude – reminding myself of how amazing my life is. He has taught me a powerful tool using the imagination – bhavana – the art of visualizing a magnificent future. With his help I have gradually become more aware of my viparyaya and understood how yoga works to a deeper level. I am deeply grateful for the past seven plus years of a nurturing relationship that has given me internal strength, confidence and faith. Thank you Roberto!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and we will look at correct understanding/pramana in depth next week!
I always wondered (and still) about the”potential” of pramana. I mean, if we understand correctly, are we understanding objects “as they are”? This should not be the same because that would imply samadhi…. So, in which level of our mind is pramana activity?
Hmmm, I am not sure about the labeling of the level of the mind. But practically speaking I see pramana as a dimmer switch, that slowly moves from the extreme of complete viparyaya to more and more clarity…
With every Sutra I feel like I shed another layer of the mind in connection with self. To look at the mind through the Sutras and observe its effects is a powerful tool. I have lived most my life in the Ksipta and Vikshepa states. I have deep rooted Samskaras living in a rajastic state where Ksipta reigns. I remember a time not so long ago that I sprung out of bed anxious with a million things on my mind from the get-go. At work I struggle in Vikshepa on overload and multi-tasking too the extreme. It is very difficult for me to focus on one thing there when there are several things coming at me at once all day long. My common joke at work is the it is killing my brain cells-which is not far from the truth as it leads me further into Vikshepa. However, I am experiencing amazing things through my yoga journey of self awareness and in meditation. I am learning what Ekagrata looks like and am loving it
Welcome to the ksipta-vikshepa club 🙂 Yes, we are there very frequently but just that awareness shifts something within us…and sometimes we see the difference instantly, but sometimes it takes some time…
With the way my mind races it’s hard to believe only 5 activities. But I mostly think of memories and imagination, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and think about something dumb I did 20 years ago. Boy talk about needing to let things go!
Yes, there is so much movement that it’s weird to think it’s only 5 different activities. But of course, the thoughts are mixtures of 2 or more of these. Remembering the past could be useful though…
I love the weekly reminders Lucia on reflecting the true yogic path and the real nature of our minds. Being gently reminded allows me to go back and remember and reflect on “what is real and what is perceived real”. Having studied briefly with Robert at Loyola Marymount for Yoga Therapy – he is an amazing teacher who always kept it real and relative. Thank you both for being a part of my life…..
Maureen dear, I find it soooo useful to have constant reminders. Often the information is in the mind somewhere, but with a reminder I can bring it back and apply it to life. I thank you too for being such a joyful part of my life!
With the 5 different states of mind that we experience according to yoga, Ksipta is the one I can relate to the most. My mind is always all over the place. Especially in savasana, I have the hardest time controlling my mind to calm down. I am always thinking about everything else expect focusing on the present. I have been working on this state of mind and it has been the most challenging for me to grow with. Ekagrata is my ultimate goal which may take years to master at the rate I am going at!
Suggestion: choose ONE thing to focus on in savasana (breath, pauses, gratitude…). Remember the mind is like an untrained puppy, it needs constant reminders 🙂
I have started becoming more aware of my ‘monkey mind’ and now am finding the time to think before acting.
“Am I being the victim? Am I being judgmental?”
And just that awareness is helping shift my life everyday.
Great! It all begins with awareness 🙂 followed by abhyasa (effort/practice) to change something.
I feel that I spend most of my time in Vikshepa. Even as I am writing this, I am thinking of all of the other ideas that I would like to meditate on and explore today. My mind has always been very fiery, rapid, quickly changing from association to association and filtering through connections at an accelerated rate. It is difficult for me to stick to one idea or path/territory of mental exploration. Writing certainly helps ground me in this way. Sometimes I feel stunted by my past mistakes in a way that I feel prevents me from having pramana and a vivid vikalpa of my future. I wish I could experience ekagrata and niradhah; those moments seem both transient and rare. It is something to work towards, definitely!
Hi Lynda, yes, the mind has a wild tendency to move from one place to another. I am currently flirting with the ideas of adopting a combination of hobbies: acting, learning the sitar, studying Tamil…wow! Patanjali reminds us later on in this chapter: “eka” – choose ONE thing.
I also think that I am most often in the vikshepa state of mind. It might have to do with the fact that I’m not happy with my job, but most of the time that I’m at work, I am pretty unfocused. I will start on a project and get bored, so I allow my phone to distract me by texting friends, or going on facebook, or reading this weekly sutra so I can comment on it later when I’m at home :-). There are (amazingly) times where I actually am able to focus, but it’s pretty short lived because I get so bored with what I’m doing. The whole reason I’m completing the training to become a yoga instructor is so that I will finally be doing something that I love to do. I think that this will bring me closer to that nirodhic state of mind.
Hi Daniel, it’s great that you’re acting to change your present situation. Your commitment to yoga and becoming a teacher is impressive! There is little tremor in that goal! Acknowledge the amazing things you are working towards!
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I often am in a complete state of vikshepa or mudha. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself which often puts me in a state of mudha. Once I am in that state it is almost impossible for me to do anything! Other times, however I get inconsistent spurts of productivity and vitality, which brings me more to a place of vikshepa. This shows me that I am in fact capable of focusing and completing what I set out to do, but I lack the structure and planning to do so consistently. This is something I hope to change, and I often entertain ideas of how to do so. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day? Creating a more detailed schedule? I have no idea what the solution is, and I’m sure there isn’t just one. I’m trying a few different things. Although I haven’t got it down to a science yet, brainstorming the ways may be the first step on my path to ekagrata.
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I think I’ve been living the past 29 years in ksipta and vikshepta states of mind, thoughts always racing and jumping all over the place. Yoga has really helped me learn to pause (even just for an hour) to focus on one thing (breath). This awareness of an unsteady state of mind has been a positive feedback cycle – the more awareness about the unsteadiness, the more steady my mind is becoming over time.
Lately I have been exceedingly clumsy. While not unusual for me, the past week or so has been a bit out of hand. Several times a day I hurt myself physically in some way because I am unaware of something in my way or because my mind isn’t allowing me to do things carefully… I see this as an outward manifestation vikshepa- my mind is currently occupied with midterms and teacher training and graduating and future plans and the important relationships in my life. My distracted mind is currently keeping me from being present and focused in a physical way.
Okay, so this is going to be out on a limb a little bit, but here it goes. While, I was reading this sutra I began to think about it in the way I see myself in the mirror. I’ve always struggled with body image issues and feeling that I wasn’t pretty enough or skinny enough, etc. Those views of myself are a misunderstanding that came from the imagination I created about myself thanks to the media and memories I’ve experienced from people in my life that made comments about my weight or what I looked like. So, I created a misunderstanding of what i should look like in the mirror that I need to have makeup on and always look put together. However, tonight for the first time I experienced the correct understanding of what I look like when I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror. I had a moment of clarity when I was standing there with my face freshly cleaned and my hair a wild mess…that this is who I am. And I am beautiful.
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There are many days when I come to a group class and experience Vikshepa. My mind is all over the place and I find my thoughts to be scattered and hard to control.Lately I have been practicing on trying to control this. In class, I focus on each inhale and exhale and eventually my wandering thoughts start to disappear. It can work in life sometimes too. I try the technique when I am trying to fall asleep after a stressful or exciting day. By giving my brain something else to focus on, I am able to slightly clear my mind to relax. It is not always 100% successful but I think that yoga gives me the tools to help with distractions.
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I have been working on focusing my vikshepa mind during what I’m calling my transition and personal moments. To clarify, when I’m at work or doing yoga, for example, it is easier for me to achieve an ekagrata mind. I am focused in both situations.
An example of a transition moment would be my commute. I have fallen and injured myself badly 3-4 times in the past year on my way home. Every time it was due to my failure to pay attention. Lately, when I’m walking home, I don’t listen to music or use my phone at all. I try not to look around too much and just watch where I’m going. It seems like something you would have to teach a little kid (lol) but I think it’s a lesson I forgot to the point that it was hurting me.
I’m trying to bring greater awareness to all aspects of my life; no matter what I am doing. This will help me develop my ekagrata mind, avoid injury, and make every moment count.
I have become able to recognize when my mind is in the “monkey state”, often irritated about something (often silly). And I learned to detach from it. Focusing on my breath rarely works. So, when this happens I go for a walk. Then I often feel like stretching and do some simple asanas. My body is actually the door to a calmer and clearer state. I have learned not to trust that voice that tells me that I can fix the feeling and discomfort even if I don’t “waste” time going for that walk or to practice yoga.
I now cultivate “prevention”: regular physical activity (and asanas) and daily relaxation/meditation technique. And day after day my mind is calmer, to the point that now it asks for my practice.
I appreciated and value what this sutra teaches us. By explaining the activities and states of the mind in 5 clear categories we are able to reflect and ask questions like “What state is my mind right now? How is my mind behaving? And what mental state would I ultimately like to achieve?”. It also allows us to recognize the mind and our thoughts as separate from ourselves, which I think is an understanding that is severally lacking in the west. It seems that most people believe that they are the thoughts/ negative voice in their head, and this teaching further illustrates that the mind acts on its own and ‘we’ are the observer instead of the constantly fluctuating activities of the mind. While reflecting on this sutra I see that lately my mind has been in Vikshep and focusing on one thing has been challenging, especially because I work on a computer everyday. With the limitless activities and amount of information that is available on the internet I often feel like my mind is being pulled in 100 different ways. Fortunately I have my yoga and vipassana practice helps me to move to subtler states of mind, even if it’s only for a short period of time every day. In the future I would like to deepen my practice and integrate even subtler states of mind into my life.
Have you guys ever listened to that song by The Pixies- where is my mind? and for a split second feel every single lyrics was written for you, for this precise moment in time? Self-reflection often eludes me, not by universal principles but by choice, and I wonder if it has anything to do with the excess rajas in me. I don’t always ask myself, what is my state of mind? or is mind truly understanding what is taking place? or am I super-imposing misconceptions of a potentially innocent situation? I don’t want to say I enjoy drama, because I think I don’t but I do, however, tend to assume the least likely scenario or perhaps the more condemning action just took place. Sometimes answers are simple, straight forward and amicable… I don’t always realize this. I do tend to wonder, almost immediately after my neuron rapidly fired some kind of rash judgment to someone’s comment/action, if this impulsive response is due to my mind always lingering in viparyaya.
I also wish as we grow older that we shed this notions of what is acceptable for the “adult” world and let ourselves fly a bit more freely on the realm of imagination. The world once seemed endless, utterly joyful and round and juicy as an apple, why do we start to walk away from this and start holding onto preconceived notions of humans behave around us? Through yoga I have been able to, gradually, slow down my mind and to try to react in a more considerate way and reach for an understanding that isn’t compromised by altered notions but what is transparent and true.
I think we live in a judgmental and superficial world and can get caught up in it very easily (at least I did). I wanted a super sexy job with a super sexy wardrobe and a super sexy body. Those things used to be important to me. Yes, I think it is important to love the work you do, dress appropriately and be healthy…but it needs to be by my own standards, not anyone else’s. And it needs to be sustainable. Yoga has helped me step back and stop judging people based on viparyayas or my vikalpa. It has allowed me to form deeper, stronger relationships based on pramana and has allowed me to stop living in a superficial world. What I have learned through yoga is that focus (ekagrata) is the key to nirodhah. I hope to find nirodhah one of these days!
I have always been curious about this list because I do not know where some mental activities fall on it. Is dream filled sleep an activity of the imagination and what makes it a subcategory when dreamless sleep is its own activity? If one can clear their mind through meditation is that akin to a blank mind of deep sleep or does it fall into correct comprehension even though we are not actively perceiving? Finally where do the emotions fall on this list? Are our thoughts just considered distinct from our feelings? I think it may be a bit crass to bring up but they are both just action potentials and neurotransmitters at the end of the day. I am well aware that the physiology of neuron was not readily known at the time of the writing of the yoga sutras but I am curious as to how these different activities or variants of those listed were defined at the time.
This week I was offered a job opportunity that I thought would be amazing and beneficial for my future. At the time of giving my two weeks to my current job my boss seemed to act like the political leader described above. She used Smrti by telling me of stories that meant something to me or talking about awesome experiences with clients. Vikalpa by offering me promotions and making me think I would be happier here and things would be better. Viparyaya by telling my fabricated promises that I know she can’t deliver but wants me to believe. Talking down the other company and attempting to make me resent it. After all of this I need Nidra because I feel so mentally exhausted from the very important choice I had to make. In the last 24 hours I have experienced the 5 different states of mind. This has been a really hard decision to make and has made me think and question a lot and my mind has without a doubt gone through the 5 states. This sutra helped me to come to my final discision. Just by being aware what states my mind was in I was able to find nirohaha and just realize who I was and what I wanted. I could not have picked a better time to do my TT homework!
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Thinking about my mind on day to day basis, I know that I can clearly see when my mind fluctuates through each state of mind (with the exception of Nirodhah, which unfortunately does not occur on a daily basis for me). In the morning and right after lunch my mind tends to be in a state of Mudha, slow to process, a bit delayed. The workday is typically an oscillating balance between Vikshepa and Ekagrata. I can tell how much of a time is spent in either state effects how I feel at the end of the day. The work days in which for the majority of the day experience flow and I feel completely present with each of my patients are amazing. But then the day where the majority of the day I am in a state of Vikshepa, in which I am in and out of focus with my patients, when the day tends to drag and my mind seems scattered I go home feeling down on myself and deflated. I think that even addressing the fact that this is completely normal and human; that most people are unable to constantly maintain a state of Ekagrata and Nirodhah. It allows me to be a little kinder to myself on the end of those scattered days.
Your reflection is wonderful Meg. Yes, most of us wander from one state to the next. And gradually, with more reflection, awareness and the courage to make certain changes in our lives, the mind has more ‘space’ to stay in states ok ekagrata more often.
Everyone experiences the five states of mind, but not everyone is aware of how the mind fluctuates. That is the gift of yoga: awareness, which facilitates change. I have been stressed, worried, and busy lately to the point where I feel like my head is going to explode. At times like that I strive for more sattva—just taking a “time out.” Asana practice has been a great way for me to temporarily disassociate from all my troubles and worries because worrying more doesn’t actually solve my worries—it magnifies them and makes them worse. So I am learning to accept that worry and stress are part of life, and how to cope with them better. Striving for a greater sense of balance and just giving my mind a break do make a difference.
Danielle, beautiful! It sounds like you’re on a path that is bringing you clarity 🙂
The state of our life is what it is, and hopefully we will recognize viparyaya to come to a state of pramana. This is our greatest challenge in life, to hope to understand and cope with these activities of the mind. Therefore, to reach a more balanced life.
Like many things related to yoga, I don’t think of these activities of the mind as being really distinct from one another, but rather I think of them as these processes that are happening simultaneously with much overlap – one of the things that is challenging about diving deeper into yoga practice, or really any metaphysical discipline, is that we are attempting to give language to something that isn’t easily touched by other methods, and for a person with an American, Western point of view not only is it foreign to speak sanskrit, but it is also fairly foreign to be thinking about our bodies and the mind without relying or basing concepts off of western science/medicine – and I can sort of grasp at the meanings of things and intuit what they mean, but at some point I internalize the concepts, and then feel “at one” with them.
The musings of my mind are often composed of a whirling storm of thoughts that bounce from smrti to vikalpa to viparyaya to pramana and back again, often on the same subject! Where is that lens cleaner again????
The mind is beautiful thing… I VERY COMPLEX beautiful thing. When I generally think of my mind, I picture moving between viparyaya, vikalpa, and smrti. I picture it as that lawn sprinkler chugging back and forth! Every once and again, I’ll have a small lighted moment pramana, and each occurence lasts a little longer. THANK GOODNESS for those small moments.
In a world of go-go-go, I know I’ve disregarded the human need of sleep. I’m working on a project, rocking-and-rolling… but wait, did I miss lunch? How did it get to be 2am? Thankfully through a small amount of enlightenment, I can see this loss of connection. Thinking of my lawn sprinkler reference, it’s on HYPER speed. My personal way to balance it is to poor a cup of tea and bring on the nidra! One must give the mind the opportunity for stillness.
I am not quite sure the difference of this sutra and the previous (sutra 1.5). From my experience today in Module 102 anatomy class, i related the breathing technique to the relative position of the spinal cords. Technically, we should develop our own pattern of breathing with the purpose of focusing an lengthening it by counting the inhale or exhale via left nostril and right nostril or any combination of the two. I see it as we inhale, we could visualize to bring our breath to our C3 (count 1, 2, 3), then exhale through our index finger (so longer exhale here). The next inhale could be brought further to our C6 (count 1 to 6), then exhale through our toe (even longer exhale). So, i imagine in a perfect world, we could transport our breath from A to B in our body, and this helps engaging my focus to my breath. This perception is correct or not, i dont know, but clearly it floats my boat. What floats yours? My gut feeling tells me that if i were paralyzed, this would be my only exercise that i could use to wake up or sense other parts of my body.
The mind is so powerful and mysterious. There is a part of me that has also been fascinated with the science of the mind. I find it to be so interesting how the mind works and allows us to function physically throughout our day. On the other hand, the activities of the mind are just as remarkable. I never thought of taking one situation like a national election and looking at it through the lens of the different activities of the mind. I think by being able to take this bird’s eye view, we are able to better analyze different situations and truly understand how our mind is reacting towards them.
I feel as though my mind leans mostly toward a Viparyaya state. I have Yoga along with the love and appreciation of my friends to thank for helping me overcome more than I have.
Yoga helps me balance my mind and appreciate myself. It also helps me focus a bit more and leash my thoughts.
Along with Yoga, my three best friends help me grasp onto my wandering thoughts and help make what is truely important shine.
I tend to exist in a vikshepa my mind has to many different things happen at once. I have a hard time balancing aging parents, teenage boys, husband,self employment, and my needs. Because of that I struggle with misunderstanding/viparyaya.
I love your example of going out and finding what you “think” you need….and then what you think you needed turns out to be a totally different thing! This has been an awakening for me in the event that a certain process or plan doesn’t go the way you foreshadowed it to be….it actually unfolded just as it should have 🙂
Mind mind moves quickly from one activity to the next. I sometimes can’t believe how many things that are going on in my mind at one time. But, Yoga has helped me process each thought one at a time. Before it felt like my thoughts were in a big bag and I would just reach in and grab whatever was on top, now I have the same amount of thoughts, but feel more calm because I am taking time to see each thought by itself.
My mind is definitely in the ksipta and vikshepa states mostly these days. So many decisions need to be made and there is a ‘deadline’ so to speak. It’s hard for me to focus and accomplish anything because my mind is constantly thinking of the million other things that need to be taken care of and what should be the priority. Overwhelmed feeling sets in and in the end I feel tomasic, low on energy and mentally worn out, and nothing gets accomplished. I realize there is some misperception going on because not every decision is life and death like it feels in the moment. Working to find the balance during this hectic time!
For as long as I can remember my mind feels like it is always in the state of ksipta and I imagine people around me may misunderstand and think I’m an unsociable person, but I’m really either sitting back taking everything in or my mind was sometimes too busy for words to come out my mouth fast enough. That restless mind of mine sometimes ends up bringing me to a state of vikshepa or mudha or maybe even both, more so when I’m alone.
Even, since I was a baby I’ve had trouble falling asleep at night, a very light sleeper, and unable to take naps like other people can. Due to these things, savasanas were definitely hard for me to really experience at times, because I would start thinking too much again at that moment and unable to relax the mind.
However, since teacher training I’ve been able to focus on one thing at a time more and can see my self still being quiet, but this time more of the paying attention and less of the monkey-mind. An exciting moment for me that I remember is when one of our teachers was giving us a class and also when someone was student teaching. There were a few instances during savasana where I was so relaxed, that I fell asleep and maybe snored a little (oops! :P). When the class was over I realized it and was so happy and excited that I fell asleep, because that meant that it is possible for me.
(Yoga has also been helping me let go of my ego more and not be embarrassed to do certain things like, be myself around others or obviously be okay with snoring in public. lol! 😉
Your example of the presidential debates is a good illustration of people in everyday life. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own point of view, that it is difficult to see that other possibilities exist. My memories create my reality. Yoga is such a good reminder to step back once in awhile to observe and open my mind to seeing the reality someone else has created.
This sutra reminds me that every element of the mind (whether considered positive or negative) plays an essential role. You can’t have the good without the bad- the yin without the yang. It reminds me that every person- no matter how enlightened, no matter if they have achieved a state of nirodha- have these qualities existing or have existed in them. No one is perfect! How refreshing.
I constantly fluctuate between these mind frames. Rajasic if I’m busy at work or in a tiff with my friend or boyfriend, tamasic on a Sunday morning after having too many drinks/too much fun on Saturday night, or if I’m sick. Mostly, I find myself these days in between the two. I find that often it takes a lot of work to get out of one or the other, but when you succeed in reaching the middle ground, it is a beautiful thing.
Vikshepa is my middle name. As much as I remind myself to focus and finish a task at hand, I am all over the place. Taking a step at a time is a process for me. I have so many ideas, dreams and projects to accomplish that my mind is in a state a chaos most of the time. I admire my children while I watch them in a state of nirodhah,, total absorption while they are playing. I wish I can be like them. It’s time for me to reteach myself. Thank you Sutras…
As a knee-jerk reaction, I must say, this sutra seems a bit narrow. How could the mind possibly be five categories? However, with a little reflection I found how broad these characteristics are. Also, it seems with the mind assigned specific jobs it is easier to create more livable and efficient way of taddressing thought. It also seems to free up fuctions of the body and chakras. This is a sutra I will have to return to when a confusing situation comes my way.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been taking notice of how I can bring prana in and create more saatva. So I’ve been trying things big and small to see what works for me. Well so far what I’ve tried has failed majorly. For instance, every Friday I treat myself to a Latte. I call it Latte Fridays and it’s just a fun way to get out of the office for a bit! Well last Friday I decided to really treat myself and get a venti. I rarely drink coffee – just a cup or two on the weekends so my tolerance for caffeine is pretty low. I thought to myself “You deserve this! Get the venti! Treat yourself and bring more prana in than you would with that grande!”. Well a venti was too much for me and I was rajasic all day!!!!! I was so wired it felt like my spine was vibrating in my body! I also had Yoga Teacher Training that night so sitting still for 3 hours was difficult with my intense caffeine buzz. Now I’m starting to figure out how to bring ekgrata and nirodhah into my life, but dang is it hard! I’m finding that my normal state is a lot more rajasic than I ever thought it was. Good to know – here’s hoping this week I can find some good ways to get more prana!
I am anxious to read about the tools and practices that Pantajali offers to move from one state of mind to the next!
I really appreciate the statement about how “It is easier to understand the mind by observing its activities than to describe it as its own entity.” When we are in a state of constant movement in our minds, we can’t do anything but observe the activities of the mind in order to better understand ourselves. I have been starting to journal more, which is something that I used to do daily. Capturing my thoughts and my state of mind gives me the opportunity to observe my mind’s activities and relate them to the action (or inaction) that I experience during any given day.
Monkey mind is a term I am familiar with. I struggle with it, struggled with it more a year ago. Since being in the training I have found more peace. I have been able to be aware, which is key, of when my mind is reacting emotionally to things, Yoga gives me a tool to feel like I can tame the monkey mind, for lack of a better way of saying it. I can connect breath to movement and concentrate on one thing, sustained focus. I can realize when I am perseverating on a feeling or a situation where I feel wronged or one that is anxiety producing and I can climb out of that hole. I like to imagine a boat that is no longer going from shore to shore in a zig zag motion but rather calmly gliding over the water in the direction I want to go in. Much more efficient!
How beautiful to envision the peaceful sailing boat. And yes, you are right, awareness is the key ingredient to calming the monkey mind.
Though I have briefly explored the five activities of the mind, it is interesting to read and explore about the five different states of mind. It is apparent to myself that my mind fluctuates between various states, and it often depends on my outer experiences as to where my mind is presently. Emotions and reactions to situations cause the mind to be in a certain state, and thus influence the body to act in certain ways. Disruption in the five activities of the mind can cause rajas or tamas to be present in a person. I believe that once we are able to properly experience the various activities of the mind, we can more easily reach or work towards the states of the mind such as Ekagrata and Nirodhah. These advanced states of mind can be reached, but I imagine it takes much discipline and a strong ability to remove the self from the distractions of the physical world as well as the emotions of the mental mind.