Yoga: Restraint of Mental Activity
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2014-05-08
Yoga is not about the body, it's about nirodhah, restraint of mental activity. When we sit to meditate we transmute force out of the physical into the mental, raising our energy. Controlling breath, sitting straight, we transmute karehana, transmute vumtyeudi, ending up summa, quiet, where there's no effort to control the mind. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, second verse.
Good morning everyone.
Looking at Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the second verse:
"Yoga is the restraint of mental activity. "
Or in Sanskrit: "Yoga chitta vritti nirodhahha."
So if anyone, if you ever get into a debate about: What is yoga? It's a good verse to quote. Clearly, it doesn't have anything to do with health, wellness, reducing stress. It has something to do with restraining the mind. So it's all about the mind, not about the body.
So chitta vritti just means mental activity. nirodhah is the word that's translated as restraint and that's what I wanted to look at. "Yoga is the restraint of mental activity." What kind of restraint is it? That's the question.
So, my first image was: Get an aggressive dog on a leash and you're holding back, right? That's a kind of restraint.
So, if you're sitting in meditation and you feel that way, know that's clearly not ideal. There's too much activity. There's too much effort being put into the process.
One of our, one of the translations we have, which is very good, uses the word "to still." "Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness." So, that's a better image, or just quieting something down slowly like a baby that's crying, you know, not crying very much. Quieting the baby down. Quieting the mind down from a not a very super active state. Just a medium activity and now you're making it slower and slower and slower and slower and quiet it.
But there's clearly more to it than that. Yogaswami has a quote on this which sounds contradictory, initially. "Now we don't control the mind..."
That's what we've been talking about, right? Controlling the mind. So, he's saying the opposite.
"Now we don't control the mind. We remain summa..."
So, summa means quiet, right? Be still. Summa Iru.
"We remain summa with a controlled mind."
So this is taking the sense of an active effort to control something away altogether. It's saying: Okay, well we can start with either one of these, you know, the dog on the leash, if it's that bad. The mind is that agitated. We can start like quieting a baby but we're supposed to end up in a state where there's no effort to control the mind. To get there, we've used effort, probably. But, supposed to get to a place where we're just in a state of consciousness where the mind's activity is still. We remain summa with controlled mind.
Gurudeva has elaboration on this idea in the second mambashum of the 52 mambashum: "Here again, like last week..."
In the original form there is to be studied one a week, that's why he says last week.
"Here again like last week we have a basic mambashum that is well worth intense study. Especially begin the year by working on kalibasa and nikashum. Remember that through the control of the natural flow of the breath, awareness is released from the area of the mind that we call the thinking mind."
So, we're getting a clue here on how to do it, right? Yogaswami indicated what we want to do. We want to end up summa with a controlled mind. But, how do we do that? We, we talked about it through analogy but not through practice.
So, he's saying:
"Control of the natural flow of breath causes awareness to be released from the area of the mind that we call the thinking mind.
"Through perfect posture kasaa or nifmasi, the karehana currents of the body are quieted and transmuted. (Which is the Shum word for ida or the more physical current.) Niimf flows then into vumtyeudi. (Which is the Shum word for pingala.) That is why as soon as one sits for meditation the thought forces are activated more than usual."
Bet we never thought about that, huh? We're doing fine, then we sit to start to meditate and our mind becomes active. That's because we transmuted force out of the physical into the mental, raising our energy. So, we pull force out that was in the physical current into the mental current and therefore, the mental current is now more active. What do we do?
"However, when the control of the breath occurs with measured exhalations and inhalations, the vumtyeudi current (That's the pingala.) is transmuted and all that is left is simple good old simshumbisi. Then and only then are we really ready to meditate. When I meditate it is a very unusual occasion when niimf enters the thought area of the mind at all."
So that's the goal: To end up in that area of mind that both Yogaswami and Gurudeva are describing. It's an area of the mind, because the ida and pingala, vumtyeudi- karehana are balanced, we're in the spiritual current and our consciousness has come up; we've transmuted energy. So, we're in a state that tends not to think. So, that's the idea. We want to, by controlling the mind, we want to end up in a state where we don't have to control it. It's just quiet.
So the Yogaswami statement makes more sense now. "Now we don't control the mind. We remain summa with a controlled mind."
So, that's the result of controlling the mind. So we control the mind through sitting up straight. This transmutes karehana. We breathe regulated in and out. Transmutes vumtyeudi. Hold the mind steady. And by that control we don't have to control. We've ended up, we remain summa with controlled mind.
So all of that is a comment on one word. nirodhah.
Can see it would take a long time to get through the Yoga Sutras at that rate.
Okay have a great day.