सत्त्वशुद्धिसौमनस्यैकाग्र्येन्द्रियजयात्मदर्शनयोग्यत्वानि च I
Moroever (ca), with purification (śuddhi) we cultivate mental clarity (sattva), a cheerful attitude (saumanasya), an ability to focus (ekāgrya), mastery over the senses (indriya-jaya) and a readiness (yogyatvāni) to connect with the Self (ātmadarśana).
PRACTICAL LIVING In the previous sūtra, Patañjali explained that as we practice purification, we understand that we need to take care of the body, but not obsess over it. In this sūtra he goes deeper and says that as we let spend less energy and time obsessing over the external world, we become more focused on our internal selves. He describes the results in 5 levels:
i. mental clarity (sattva) – is the state of the most balance and peace on a mental-emotional level that we can experience. This place lacks what Patañjali has described as the obstacles to a state of Yoga in sūtra I.30 (illness, lethargy, doubt, haste, lack of vigor, desire for lust, judgmental perspective, stagnation and giving up). Sattva is therefore a place of health, vitality, confidence, motivation, open-mindedness and determination. It is the highest potential we have on a mental-emotional level. It’s a place of broad seeing and understanding.
ii. cheerful attitude (saumanasya) – clarity leads to a positive way of being. This does not mean that this person does not feel negative emotions. But it does mean that since this person is not attached to feeling a certain way, there is a lightness about their way of being. There is an understanding that regardless of what feelings are manifesting, life is good.
iii. focus (ekāgrya) – as the mind draws inward, it becomes less distracted with the external world and is able to focus on one thing at a time for prolonged periods of time. This theme of focus has been discussed since sūtra I.2 when Patañjali described the meaning of Yoga – to choose, focus and sustain.
iv. mastery of the senses (indriya-jaya) – mental clarity, lightness and focus are only possible once a person can re-direct their attention from focusing on the external world (desire for power, sex, recognition and fame) to something more subtle within. A circus acrobat needs to be focusing only on his/her precise moves. If they instead get distracted by the audience’s reactions, disaster is bound to happen. Just like the acrobat, we need to train the senses to use them as needed, but not be slaves to them. How much of your life is guided by what the external world thinks of you versus what your internal world (your Self) tells you.
v. eligibility to connect with the Self (ātmadarśana-yogyatvāni) – as a result of taming the senses, the focus goes towards self-reflection, the mind becomes clearer and we become lighter and more cheerful. Then, as a result of all of that purification (consciously choosing what to sensorily engage with), we are ready, or eligible, to experience our highest potential – the Self.
This sūtra suggests that we re-think our values. Do we want to experience cheerfulness and peace? Then we need to stop and ask ourselves why we are searching for happiness and balance outside of ourselves. As we let go of that deeply-ingrained value, we begin the inner journey – the drama-free one that takes us to our inner light.
IN THE YOGA WORLD The Yoga world describes nature as having different qualities: rajas (movement); tamas (heaviness); and sattva (balance and luminosity). We tend to, as humans, be really attracted to rajas – excitement, gossip, drama, busy-ness, caffeine…or anything that leads to a lot of movement (physical or emotional). The problem is that rajas often leads to tamas – lethargy, depression, lack of motivation. So we ping-pong our lives from rajas to tamas and repeat. The goal of Yoga is to cultivate more sattva – a non-dramatic, simpler, more peaceful and gossip-free mental state. It is only through the sattvic mental state that we can access our greatest gift – our soul. So we do practices that lead us to cultivate a more focused, calmer, more joyful mind so that we can have more moments of connecting with the soul – our true nature.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Elizabeth Gilbert has been inspiring me for many years through her books and interviews. Recently she inspired me on many different levels as I read her latest book, Big Magic. She describes many Yogic concepts through her funny yet profound words. She talks about fear and creativity holding hands. She talks about putting fear in the back seat of the car. She talks about being open to catching ideas because they’re always flying around us. She talks about creating for the sake of creation itself. What happens to our creations is none of our business. Action and detachment are fundamental concepts in Yoga. And she captures them in such an easy-to-digest way. I read her book while I was on a retreat with my spiritual teacher – Ram Dass, and it was the exact ingredient that I needed to finish writing my own book. And I enjoyed the process of writing so much. From being concerned about the results of the book (will people like it, what will they think, will it sell?) to absolute immersion in the writing process. And what happens to that book once I’ve put all my love and attention to it, is none of my business. Thank you Elizabeth for your rawness, for your goofiness, for putting something so meaningful yet so lighthearted out into the world! I feel like you’re a good friend of mine 🙂
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 discuss unending contentment!