Ok, this week’s Sutra… not gonna lie… is sort of boring. At least on the surface. It talks about the 4th of the 5 mental modifications that hold us back from the “True Self” or our fourth state (Turiya). This 4th mental activity is sleep. Not dreaming, not deep conscious sleep (a whooooole ‘notha thing: i.e. yoga nidra), simply the act of sleeping is basically a disconnect form the world and considered an idle state. We are going to briefly discuss the 4th and 5th activities of the mind this week so that we can understand all of these as a whole and what they mean.
Let’s revisit. The 5 mental states of the mind that can be klishta (colored) or aklishta (uncolored) and either deter or assist in our expedition to the True Self are as follows:
1.7: ‘right knowledge’ right knowledge is when we experience something, use inference and authoritative testimony to confirm that something is true.
1.8: ‘wrong knowledge’ perceiving your version of the world as reality. This Sutra specifically is relating to when we mistake something for what it isn’t (i.e. we see a coiled up rope and we think it is a snake).
1.9 ‘conceptualization’ language alone is simply a concept. Until we put action to words, imagination is just that- imaginary.
1.10 Sleep: Sleep (not dreaming) is simply the darkest point of our day, or in Yogic terms it is the most ‘TAMAS’ of all our activities. This one is tough because we need sleep to function, however it is a conscious choice (most of the time) to sleep and we remember that we did it. Therefore Patanjali suggests that it is a type of mental state.
1.11 Memory: “Memory is the non-stealing of an object”. Think of a memory that you bring up frequently. For me it is my wedding. It was one of the best days of my life, and I think about it all the time… however that memory changes constantly, as I change constantly. Even though I think that memory is not fluctuating, it absolutely is because it is affected by how I remember today. Memory is deceiving because we will never remember it quite the way it actually occurred. The best way to use memory is to recall the useful parts and discard the parts that are no longer useful.
If we can learn to control these activities of the mind, we can begin to come closer to our True Self. The Yoga Sutras suggest in 1.12 that the way to get better at controlling the constant chatter of the mind is through:
1. Abhyasa- practice (yoga, pranayama, meditation, prayer, mantras, mindfulness, etc.)
2. Vairagya- non attachment (letting go of what no longer serves you , including becoming unattached to your body and mind… the changeable items in our lives)
Yoga Sutra 1.12: Control of these [five kinds of mental] activity [is accomplished] through practice and dispassion
Practice makes practice, the more you practice the better you will come and yet, the more you will discover is deeply buried in your consciousness. I challenge you this week to pick up a daily practice of something- whether it is yoga, meditation or mindfulness, see what constant practice can help create in your life.
Non attachment may seem harsh and cold, but it actually is a really beautiful way at not letting your life be led by sorrow and suffering. Start with non-attachment of easier things: I can’t make it to the gym today. Ok, let it go! I ate an ice cream sandwich on my diet: Ok, let it go. The more we can let go of the smaller things, the easier it will become to let go of the bigger things.
This section of the Sutras is incredibly important as it lays out the foundation of how our minds work and the task ahead at trying to calm the chatter, and control the whirlwind.