SUTRA (Thread) or Lesson 2: Yogas chitta vrtti nirodhah
Yogas: Yoga is | Citta: Mind-field | Vrtti: Modifications | Nirodhah: Restraint
Yoga is a practice that is primarily devoted to having restraint over the changes and fluctuations of the mind.
In our practice, the main goal, and focus, is to gain control of this powerful tool and resource for liberation and happiness so that we can effectively use it to steer us on our journey towards freedom from suffering and from the common entrapments and distractions that are present in the external world.
In Yoga, mind, in it’s totality is referred to as citta. And within the totality of our citta are three main parts: 1) ahamkara, or ego mind (our 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 we move though our days, this sutra reminds us that we should always remember that “[a]s the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your mind,” (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali). We must therefore do our best to become aware of what we are using our minds to create both within us, as well as, by extension, in our external world.
With awareness, we can reframe our thoughts, shift our perspectives, choose understanding, seek out valid evidence for (or against) our assumptions, and effectively use our skill of discernment (grounded in truth and reality) to move ourselves towards greater freedom, happiness, and a balanced life.
This is our 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 (without judgement 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 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. 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.
So, what are you creating today?