Yogas Chitta Vrtti Nirodhah
Yogas: Yoga is | Citta: Mind-field | Vrtti: Modifications | Nirodhah: Restraint
Yoga–at least on the Eight-Limbed path–is a practice that is primarily devoted to having restraint over the changes and fluctuations of the mind, so that you can regulate and focus it, put identification with it aside, be your True Self, and become Liberated.
In your Eight-Limbed Yoga practice, the main goal, or aim, is to gain control of one of the most powerful tools and resources that you possess so that you can effectively use it to steer your body-mind on your journey towards freedom from suffering caused by ignorance, attachment, aversion/hatred, false-self-identification, and/or fear associated with the common entrapments and distractions that are present in the external world (and in your perception/experience of it).
In Yoga, the mind, in its totality, is referred to as citta. And within the totality of your citta are three main parts: 1) ahamkara, or ego-mind (your sense of “I”), 2) buddhi, or the intellectual discerning mind, and 3) manas, the desiring mind that is attracted to, and by, things in the external world.
As you move through your days, it is a good idea to always remember that “[a]s the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your mind” (Sri Swami Satchidananda). And what this essentially means is that you are best served doing what is needed to become aware of what you are using your mind to create both within you, as well as, by extension, in your external world (through your perceptions and Karmas–actions that have a cause and effect in the world) at all times.
With awareness, you can reframe your thoughts, shift your perspectives, choose understanding, seek out valid evidence for (or against) your assumptions, and effectively use your skill of discernment (grounded in Truth and Reality) to move towards greater peace, happiness, and balance in life, which will eventually support you to master the skill of putting all of your mental fluctuations (or thoughts) aside to create the optimal conditions for Spiritual Liberation. You can use your buddhi mind to regulate your ahamkara and manas, and thus control your entire chitta for a higher quality of seeing and living that makes it possible to facilitate and know your True Self and to rest in your True Nature as Joy.
So, with that brief overview in mind (pun accepted), this is your focus of practice for the week:
2 Seconds At A Time Mindfulness Practice
Today, I invite you to start paying attention to your mind as you go about your day. You will start small by participating in the act of consciously controlling your mind two seconds at a time once you have started becoming aware of your thoughts in the first place (without judgment or too much resistance against them).
If you have not already practiced mind observation, you may choose to spend a day or two simply paying attention to the fluctuations and movement of your thoughts before getting started with this activity.
Once you have a basic awareness of your thoughts and can objectively “look” at them, as you move through your day, spend two seconds at a time in a state of awareness and active choice.
Think about what you are creating as you move through your day generating different thoughts.
When you recognize that what you are creating with your mind is either moving you closer toward, or farther away from equanimity, choose to either enhance those thoughts or to transform them into something different.
This means that you will simply become aware of your desires, ideas, inspirations, and impulses as you move through your day, and then, for 2 seconds at a time, use your buddhi mind (intellectual and discerning mind) to accept, reject, or transform your mind-field to reflect more grounded and “correct” truths.
Do not be concerned with whether or not you forget to do this practice, or if you fall into hours (or days) of automatic or impulsive thinking. If you slip up, simply come back to your next two seconds of practice and continue from there.
With this practice, your goal is to become more consciously aware of what you are creating, and to be more actively involved in choosing “who” and how you want to be in the present moment. Practicing this skill for as long as you can each day will naturally help with getting you closer to becoming a more conscious creator of your life experience (and will start preparing you for more advanced Yoga practices as we move forward).
So, beautiful Creator, what are you creating today? And how?
I invite you to reflect in your journal.