SUTRA 1.8: VIPARYAYO MITHYAJNANAM ATADRUPA PRATISTHAM

TRANSLATION: MISCONCEPTION OCCURS WHEN KNOWLEDGE OF SOMETHING IS NOT BASED UPON IT’S TRUE FORM.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. But, here are some examples. For instance, out of the corner of your eye you mistake a reflection of light that passes across the floor as a mouse scurrying by. This misconception might cause you to scream or jump up on the couch and panic. In reality, there is no mouse, but in the moment, your brain doesn’t know the difference between right knowledge and illusion. Through yoga we make space in our bodies. And in doing so, we also create space in our minds. We increase the distance between the stimuli we receive and the conclusion we draw from this stimuli. This pause in between experience and judgment is what we cultivate through our practice of yoga and meditation. Are ya dizzy yet? I sure am…

March 28, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.

SUTRA 1.7: PRATYAKSANUMANAGAMAH PRAMANANI

TRANSLATION: THE SOURCES OF RIGHT KNOWLEDGE ARE: DIRECT PERCEPTION, INFERENCE, AND SCRIPTURAL TESTIMONY.

Bringing peace to your mind is a little like spring cleaning. You get to a point where you know it’s time to downsize and get rid of some junk that you don’t need. But, you don’t just throw out or give away every single thing you own all at once. That would be traumatic! Ah! First, you begin to organize all your possessions into groups to determine what absolutely MUST go (the pink and yellow duck sweater from when I was 5… really scratchy, smells like moth balls…), what maybe can go (my ice-skates… I live in LA now..?), and what you are absolutely not ready to part with (my senior prom dress… even though it soooo doesn’t fit… and my BFF might have puked on it…). You start by tossing out the articles and objects that you are emotionally attached to the least. Once you have done some sorting and organizing, you stuff as much junk as you can handle into trash bags and haul it over to good will. Although you haven’t gotten rid of everything, you still feel a huge sense of relief, sigh… Most likely your next thought is: Wow! I have so much space, now I can buy more stuff!! Haha, that’s kinda not the idea we are going for here 🙂 We all know there is freedom in letting go of stuff, whatever that stuff might be. Sometimes we cling so desperately to our, forgive me,…. crap (whether personal items, or thoughts) that we are completely paralyzed and can’t move forward in our lives. When clearing out the vrttis of the mind, we don’t have to throw out everything all at once. We can start by relieving ourselves of the clutter that is most obviously in our way and causing pain to ourselves AND/ OR others.

One of the vrttis that Patanjali speaks of is: right knowledge, which can be attained through direct perception, inference, or scriptural testimony. Direct perception means that you decide something is true because you witness it firsthand, you see it. For example, I am watching you eat ice cream, thus I know you are eating ice cream. Inference means that you decide something based on something else, because of the way the world usually functions. For example, you see a rainbow, so you infer it has just rained. You see smoke, so you infer there is a fire. You haven’t actually seen rain or fire, but you assume your inference to be true and accurate based on your experiences in the world to date. And lastly, we come to scriptural testimony. This means that you believe something to be true, because you read it in one of the ancient scriptures and you trust the word of the saint/ sage/ or prophet who wrote it. Patanjali believes that any spiritual practice should be rooted in the ancient scripture of your choice. How modern! He believes that all ancients texts have a similar foundation and underlying truth, but merely present the facts in a different way. The truth is always true no matter what form it takes. Patanjali doesn’t really tell us the order in which we should detox our minds. But, I’d say that direct perception might not be the first to go…  What do you think and why?

March 21, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.

SUTRA 1.6: PAMANA VIPARYAYA VIKALPA NIDRA SMRTAYAH

TRANSLATION: They [the 5 kinds of mental mods that are either painful or painless as discussed in 1.5] are…

1. Right Knowledge

2. Misconception

3. Verbal Delusion

4. Sleep

5. Memory

March 14, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.

SUTRA 1.5: VRTTAYAH PANCATAYYAH KLISTA AKLISTAH

TRANSLATION: THERE ARE FIVE KINDS OF MODIFICATIONS OF THE MIND, WHICH ARE EITHER PAINFUL OR PAINLESS.

Patanjali does not say these modifications are either painful or pleasurable. He specifically states painful or painless. He words it in this way because pain and pleasure are relative. A seemingly pleasurable thought might in the end lead to pain and misery, while a painful thought may actually lead to pleasure and peace. For example: love can turn to jealousy and resentment and excitement can result in disappointment. On the other hand, anger can fuel positive change in another and bring peace. Patanjali goes on to further describe the difference between these two types of modifications  by saying painful= selfish and painless or inevitably also pleasurable= selfless. If you love something or someone because you expect something selfish in return such as financial comfort, status, physical pleasure, etc. these thoughts will eventually lead to pain in one form or another. In my book, figuratively speaking… I don’t have a book… yet…, selflessness pretty much= love. On the other hand, have you ever loved someone so selflessly that you are infuriated with them for not living up to their potential or the like? You want the best for them so purely that it’s makes you angry… This person may feel shitty at first because of your anger, but eventually comes to a higher understanding of themselves etc… Everyone needs a kick in the butt sometimes, right?  It’s the motive behind the thought, not so much the character of the thought that truly determines the outcome.

On our longgggg yogic journey towards mental clarity, Patanjali suggests we begin by filling our minds with positive/ selfless thoughts and toss out negative/ selfish thoughts. If we make others happy we will always be happy. He even says, ok, if you neeeeeeed to be selfish, be selfish in demanding your own peace and happiness… through selflessness. Haha, such a trickster! But it’s true. Can an act of service ever be truly selfless if you get something out of it in the end?? The verdict is: WHO CARES!? If you are making the world a better place and getting a kick out of it, more power to ya! As long as you don’t get a big fat ego about it… because frankly that’s just painful all around…. don’t be that guy… Through yoga we become better and better at sorting through our thoughts and deciding what stays and what goes out with the trash.

March 7, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.