While Western Medicine has only categorized certain mental-emotional states as illnesses, and the list continues to grow each day based on socially constructed “norms” that profess that some mental states are a deviation from an unclearly defined standard (with even appropriate circumstantial human emotions like sadness and/or anxiety being on the list with genetic neuro-emotional conditions like Schizophrenia), Yoga (at least according to Patanjali in Sutra 1.2) simply defines mental disturbance and dis-ease as “modifications of the mind-stuff” (Chitta Vrittis).
These modifications are all disturbances that stray from connection to the eternal Truth/Reality of the Self beyond physical form, of which there are mild to severe disturbances that range from highly destructive and delusional thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and ideologies (either within the context of not being grounded in reality that sees Maya clearly, or within the context of not being able to see the Greater Reality that is unchanging and eternal beyond form due to being over-attached to/traumatized by the illusions of the world) that lead to destructive Karmas that create ongoing suffering in the world.
The five categories of mental disturbances that one encounters in Yoga Sciences, which are either painful or painless (Sutra 1.5), are “right knowledge, misconception, verbal delusion, sleep, and memory” (Sutra 1.6).
Being deeply impacted by any of these mental modifications can lead to illnesses (that can manifest into physical, emotional, mental, and experiential pains that lead to suffering). These illnesses include (but are not limited to):
- Egoism (identifying with your ego-body-mind complex as your self)
- Clinging to bodily life
Being afflicted by one or more of these illnesses leads to a wide variety of symptoms/Karmas–actions in thoughts, words, and behaviors that have a cause and effect in the world–that include (but are not limited to):
- Violence (in thoughts, words, and actions)
- Stealing (of tangible and intangible objects)
- Lack of self-control
- Excessive fearfulness/aversion
- Compulsive pleasure-seeking
- Identity confusion/crisis
- Wickedness (not in the slang sense but in the evil sense)
Eight-Limbed Yoga Practice Is A Preventative And A Cure
Yoga (the Eightfold Path practice) is “restraint of the modifications [disturbances] of the mind-stuff” (Sutra 1.2) so that one can “abide by its own nature” (1.3).
The ancient scientific process of Yoga practice is designed, through an infinite variety of methodologies and techniques, to create steadiness of the mind and being (1.13) that leads to total self-collectedness and ultimately, Self-Realization that frees practitioners from mental disturbance on all levels.
To learn more about my Sutra Studies series, which provides a detailed explanation/experiential interpretation of, and expansion on, the knowledge of the 196 aphorisms of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a text that systematically explains the insights and methods for the removal of mental modifications/disturbances, click here.
You can also review all 196 aphorisms by visiting our Sutra Studies Guide if you wish to get a quick overview. of the Sutras and/or conduct reflection on your own
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