Week 7: Reflections On The Five Types Of Mental Distortions According To Patanjali (Sutras 6-11)

From wishful thinking, to the spinning and outright denial of truth, our species has created societies that are often shaped by nothing more than illusions, or to draw from Plato’s infamous story of the cave, shaped by nothing more than mere shadows on a wall, and by the thoughts, words, and actions (karma) that result from them.

Week 7: Reflections on The Five Types Of Mental Distortions According To Patanjali
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Week 7: Check-In | Letting Go Of Mental Distortions And Suffering Through Mindfulness

Our Four Noble Truths, and quest for enlightenment through the Eightfold Path, reminds us that we must let go of all of the mental distortions that weight us down and keep us entangled/attached in the perpetual cycle of suffering that is inevitable for our species when we cling tightly to distortions that cause us to over-identify with our physical bodies, ideologies, identities, and our impermanent creations in our lifetime.

This, however, does not mean that we abandon care for our bodies/life vessels, or that we recklessly go around creating havoc in the world instead of consciously and diligently taking actions/performing “right” karma in order to manifest and bring about “good” things for ourselves and others while we are alive.

Letting go of our clinging to illusion, simply means developing awareness of what we are creating in our bodies, lives, and world through the landscape and tool of our minds, and being unattached to both the illusions that allow our resulting creations to manifest, as well as being detached from the outcome of what we manifest from our place of purity.

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Week 7: The 5 Types Of Mental Distortions According To Patanjali (Sutras 6-11)

The aim of our Yoga practice is to, after paying attention to and gaining mastery over our thoughts through discernment and understanding, “whether…[we find that our thoughts are] valid or invalid…ultimately…set aside [these mental modifications/distortions/vrittis in order]…to find [true] peace [beyond these thoughts (which is different from the peace that comes from Sutra 5)].

But before we push out all thoughts[, our next Sutras remind us that], we [must] try to analyze…[our thoughts] and eliminate one set after another…[since] [w]e can’t just throw everything into one garbage pail [or out all at once].”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Sutra (Threads) or Lessons 6-11: Pramana Viparyaya Vikalpa Nidra Smrtayah [Sutra 6]

Pramana: correct or right knowledge | Viparyaya: misconception, incorrect knowledge | Vikalpa: verbal delusion, imagination | Nidra: sleep | Smrtayah: memory (grouping all 5)

Some thoughts are nice, some are terrifying, others are truthful, beautiful, sweet (and a number of other descriptions), many are incorrect, but, no matter what form they show up in, all thoughts are still considered to be one of the things/distortions that get in the way of seeing and understanding our true self, and they must, therefore, be removed from our minds at some point in order to attain true enlightenment or self-realization.

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