Yogaschitta vrtti Nirodhaha

Yogaschitta vrtti Nirodhaha

Every individual has a state of mind which is called his or her Parinama, or Vrtthi. Vrttis can be one of three possible types: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Vrttis. Sattva Sattva is the quality of Truth, of Wholesomeness. It is a state to be desired and to be achieved by the practice of Yoga. This is a state of balance in the mind and body that occurs when the boy is strong, resilient and the mind quiet and calm. Rajas The Rajasic State is one of hyperactivity. This describes the modern man, who is constantly engaged in some activity or the other, often without purpose or significant result. It is important to understand that a Rajasic state is at times necessary, such as when waking up from sleep. If we are devoid of Rajas, we cannot get up from bed and begin to function on a daily basis. But having got up, we should lapse into the state of Completeness of Sattva, so that we can interact with the rest of humanity with kindness and compassion. Therefore, Rajas is necessary merely to convert from the sleep state to the state of wakefulness so that we can function. Tamas The Tamasic State is one of dullness of body and intellect. This is the state we are in on weekends and holidays, when we feel we deserve to “vegetate”. Again, the Tamasic state is necessary to fall asleep at the appropriate time so that we are not awake into the night, counting sheep to try and fall asleep! But it is important not to be lethargic, such as sleeping during the...
Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga

Before I start, I would like to declare that every blog on Yoga that follows is what I have learned from the many lectures and teachings of my Guru Swami Sri Dayananda Saraswati and his disciples. “Om Sri Gurubhyo Namaha” – My salutations to the Guru. There is a Guru-Shishya Parampara (“Guru” – the one who clears the darkness of ignorance and reveals the truth; “Shishya” – the disciple; “Parampara” – the tradition). The importance of understanding this concept is that, though the information is available in the Pramanas (the Vedas and Upanishads), it cannot be completely imbibed without being taught by the Guru. This is an Oral Tradition, starting long before writing was conceived. It is passed on orally from one generation to the next. “Ashta” – Eight, “Anga” – Limbs/Branches. Yoga existed before the time of Patanjali. This saint was the first one to formalize yoga into a discipline, to be practiced in the pursuit of self-realization. What we call yoga in the Western world is just Asanas (postures), one of the eight limbs of Yoga. Before we discuss the eight limbs, let us elaborate on the introduction that Patanjali presents. This introduction is in the form of 3 sentences or statements. Atha Yoganushasanam. Yogaschittha vrtti nirodhaha Atha Drshtuhu Swarupe Avasthanam. The first statement is Atha Yoganushasanam. The word ‘Atha’ is equivalent to the word ‘Om’. Both are sacred words. These are interchangeably the words that the Lord is said to have uttered when he was ready to manifest as the world. World as a manifestation The world is a manifestation, not a creation. The pot maker...
Understanding Thoughts and Improving the Mind

Understanding Thoughts and Improving the Mind

In thinking of ways to improve the mind, let us start with understanding thoughts. Thoughts: We are all used to either Listless Thinking or Compulsive Thinking. Listless thinking is when the mind is engaged in thoughts even when we are not paying attention. Compulsive thinking is when the mind engages in thoughts that constantly change from one subject to another without any rhyme or reason, but continues to engage our attention, or it is when we are engaged in obsessively thinking on a subject that consumes us. Recall that we are not in control of our minds. The mind instead controls us most of the time. Most of our actions are the result of some thought in the mind. Even when we talk about impulsive or reflex actions, these actions are based on memory of previous such actions, what are called Samskaras, or memories buried deep in our minds from previous experience. Because the mind is just a storehouse of thoughts and memories from the past. These Samskaras have a way of controlling our thinking or channeling our thinking along predetermined paths, outside our control. This is what leads to impulsive behavior, the behavior that is created by knowledge and memories of previous actions. Although actions involve the body, it originates in the mind. What does Yoga do for the mind? Yoga brings integration to a disintegrated mind. An examination of our lives reveals that there is disintegration. The physical, mental and spiritual needs of our lives are considered different and therefore addressed differently. Yoga is the way to integrate the Physical, Mental and spiritual aspects of life. “Yoga...
Examining Our Lives

Examining Our Lives

In examining our lives, we come to certain conclusions. One of those conclusions is that we are all seekers. Of what? Happiness. Although we go about in different ways, we are all always seeking happiness. Importantly, in seeking happiness, we are always looking for something outside of ourselves to make us happy. It does not take long for us to realize that there is nothing outside of us which can make us permanently happy. For example, we look to our jobs and the money we earn, the stock market, places we visit during vacation and any number of other things and activities to give us lasting comfort. Yet, happiness remains elusive. We are happy when we are engaged in that activity, but when we return to “life” with a dithering jolt, we are again seeking the next fleeting moment of happiness. Meditation instead teaches us to look inward. What is there within us that is worth looking at/for? Of course, it is the mind. If you do nothing else, please spend some time daily in introspection. Sit quietly for several minutes, devoid of the phone and other “smart” objects. Put aside the TV, books etc and observe the mind. Follow the thought that enters the mind, stay with it as it dwells inside the mind and follow it as it leaves the mind. The mind, unaccustomed as it is to observation, will gradually become quiet. Quietness of the mind is the first objective of meditation. Quietness/stillness of the mind has the profound effect of bringing the very calmness and tranquility we are constantly seeking from the outside. Once the...
How to Gain Insight into Atman/Brahman

How to Gain Insight into Atman/Brahman

There are several ways that one can gain insight into Atman/Brahman. Practice of Yoga, including Niyama and Yama Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras including Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Isvara Pranidhana Shravanam, Mananam, Nididhyasanam Bhakti Other less effective ways that will be considered later. Yoga Yoga means different things to different people. To most people it is a physical activity, requiring considerable flexibility and strength in acquiring and maintaining different poses, called Asana. But Yoga is much more than that. It is, first of all, a spiritual discipline. It is a way of life, incorporating values which are conducive to being a good human being and an introspective life committed to the practice of spirituality.   The word Yoga is derived from the root word Yuj/Yug, which means to join or yoke. A life of yoga culminates in the merging of the Individual and Divine Consciousness. More importantly, it ends with the realization that the two are not separate, and that it was our ignorance that created the misconception of a separation between the two. Yoga integrates the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life. Fractionation of life There is obvious disintegration in our lives. For the physical we seek the help of a trainer or facility which guides us on how to care for the body. For the mind we seek the help of a counselor or psychiatrist to guide us on the emotions that we do not understand. For the spiritual we turn to the institution or priest who we think is closer to God than we are. At one end is our body and its perceived needs. At the...
Nature of the Mind

Nature of the Mind

The Mind is the screen on which thoughts, ideas and concepts register. We are in contact with the environment through our senses, the senses pick up impressions from the environment around us, and then the impressions register in the mind as a thought or an experience. For example, I experience an object, such as a plant, when I see it. The mind searches back into the memory, and if there is a memory of the experience of having seen that object previously, I recognize the experience and thus recognize the plant. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that knowledge is memory. If I did not have the memory of having seen a plant in the past, I would not recognize the object that I am perceiving as a plant. I would know it as an object but not as a plant. We now understand that thoughts, and therefore knowledge, is always in the past, based on a memory of past experience. You cannot possibly have knowledge of something that is not in the past. You can learn something now, but knowledge is inevitably from the past. What about the body and the senses? The human is a conglomerate of the body, the mind and the senses. “Deho na Janathi”: ‘Deho’ – the body, ‘na’ – does not, ‘Janathi’ – know. Meaning that the body is insentient, it does not know. For example, the body does not declare itself. You declare and recognize the body as yours. The body is therefore incapable of action without being lead by the mind. The senses, on the other hand, perceive, but need the...