Yoga is not about postures. If yoga was about flexibility alone, then all the gymnasts in the world would be yogis. It is a deeper science which is also known as yoga darshan. Darshan means vision or glimpse or to see. Yoga teaches to experiment within, with closed eyes where the human potential is revealed. Yogis have a systematic understanding of the self through experience and hence are able to tap into this potential at the physical, mental and spiritual level.
Understand the mind
To understand an object, one requires parameters such as colour and size. Similarly to be able to deal with the mind and tap into the mental energy, one needs to understand the various parameters of the mind. Patanjali, one of the greatest yogis of all times, has described the purpose of yoga in one of his sutras (sutra is an aphorism) as yoga chitta vritti nirodah.
Chitta means consciousness or the mind-field, vritti is modifications, nirodah is cessation. Yoga is the process by which one can regulate the modifications of the mind.
Chitta which is consciousness is a by-product of purush (masculine) and prakriti (feminine). The science of yoga explains that there are four segments of consciousness or mind field – manas, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara.
Manas has been translated as mind in English but has a distinct quality. Buddhi is intellect and ahamkara is ego.
To understand how these segments interact together consider the mind to be a company. Here manas is the dreamer — the emotional one — who wants to grow the business across the globe. It does not have the ability to judge. Buddhi holds the ability to judge. It wants to take control of decision making. It can be compared to a chartered accountant who tells the manas that it can expand only if there is enough capital. Ahamkara on the other hand praises the manas and its dreams. It motivates for wrong reasons and lets the manas live in illusion as it keeps on dreaming. It does not let the mind be at peace or rest. In simple words, ahamkara or ego is who you are not. This is where the mind is divided. This whole process is happening on the platform of chitta.
Yoga teaches one to develop a beautiful chemistry between the different segments of the mind. Yoga also helps sharpen the buddhi. The way out of this tussle of the manas and ahamkara is to sharpen the buddhi. In the upcoming articles, I will explain the different ways to achieve the same.
Practice of the week
Inculcate the habit of self-study. Keep a daily diary of your strengths, weakness, qualities, likes and dislikes, and good and bad habits. Keep it personal and list your observations about yourself. Holidays or vacations can also serve as a period of self-study. Alongside begin a yoga routine which will also help improve balance and stability in the body and mind as the one mentioned here.
Next week: Harness the mental energy- part 2