An agitated mind (viksepa) manifests symptoms (bhuvah) in: the body through physical trembling and physical discomfort (angamejayatva), in the breath through irregular breathing (svasa-prasvasa), in the mind through negative thinking (daurmanasya) and in the emotions through emotional suffering (duhkha).
PRACTICAL LIVING The previous sutra gave us a list of obstacles we encounter that prevent us from experiencing inner calmness (see Sutra I.30). This week’s sutra describes four symptoms that every human being will experience during a state of distress, when one or more of those obstacles are in our path. Knowing what the symptoms are helps us identify them in the moment they are happening, allowing us to change using one of the tools that Patanjali offers in the rest of the text. Awareness of the symptom is the first step required for us to change. The four symptoms are:
1. Emotional pain (duhkha): a general unhappiness, an emotional discomfort that is often deep-seated and felt on a physical level in the chest region. This emotional pain can be connected to distress, grief, sadness, anguish and a general sense of misery.
2. Mental negativity (daurmanasya): a negative perspective on life, often related to pessimism, sarcasm, a dark mood, lack of self-confidence, and can bring someone to despair and depression.
3. Physical restlessness (angamejayatva): physical unease, often manifested in trembling, shaking, twitching or the inability to be still.
4. Irregular breathing (svasa-prasvasa): whenever the inhale or exhale is disrupted, meaning we are holding the breath or the breath is short and shallow, the breath is said to irregular.
This sutra presents Yoga as a holistic system. These four symptoms are interconnected. When we affect one of the levels (body, breath, thoughts and emotions), the others are affected as well. Yoga works on those four levels. If we are scared or stressed, we feel emotional discomfort (manifested in anxiety, sadness…), leading to negative thinking, manifested in the body depending on where our physical weakness lies (migraines, neck tension, stomach issues…), causing our breath to be irregular (we hold it or we breathe in a short and shallow manner). The breath is more subtle and we rarely pay attention to it. The following are common relationships between the breath and our emotional states:
- anger: forceful and rapid exhalation (like an angry bull)
- disappointment: prolonged exhalation (sigh)
- anxiety: short and shallow inhalations and exhalations
- shock: breath suspension
- calmness: long and smooth breaths
If we can see these symptoms as triggers for awareness, we can learn a lot about ourselves in moments of discomfort. What is making us feel this way? Why have I had neck tension since adolescence? What feelings are associated with this physical discomfort? Once I gain that awareness, I can stop blaming external factors and take the next step and apply one of the tools Patanjali gifts us with!
IN THE YOGA WORLD Here Patanjali presents us with the method of how Yoga views healing: holistic (from body, to breath, to thoughts to emotions). Practically speaking, this means that most of our physical symptoms are manifestations of deep-rooted emotional troubles. Healing in Yoga, therefore, takes time. We do not have magical pills for anxiety, back pain or pessimism. Yoga works with reflection, awareness and action. Through reflection we become aware of many deep tendencies and behaviors we have had that negatively affect our health. That awareness helps us see how we can change and create positive and constructive changes in order to create magnificent lives! Sutras I.32-I.39 mention eight techniques or tricks for calming the mind 🙂
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Vero lives a FULL life. What I mean by that is that she lives her life with her body, breath, thoughts and emotions fully engaged – and she inspires me for that aliveness! Like for most of us, her life has had its easy and challenging times. What I admire is her ability to grow through the challenging times. Reflection and awareness of deep-rooted emotions have transformed her. She seeks to be a happier, calmer person and actively pursues that. ACTION is a word that comes to mind when I think of this beautiful woman. She acts on life, and that inspires me! Thank you Vero for showing me the amazingness of movement, of change, of transformation, and of living from the heart. Te amo hermana!
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 next week we will look at the first of eight solutions that Patanjali offers to cultivate more inner peace 🙂