Tag Archives: mindfulness

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.20

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Others follow a five-fold systematic path of

  1. 1) faithful certainty in the path

  2. 2) directing energy towards the practices

  3. 3) repeated memory of the path and the process of stilling the mind

  4. 4) training in deep concentration

  5. 5) the pursuit of real knowledge, by which the higher samadhi (asamprajnata samadhi) is attained.

Those who have not yet freed themselves from attachment to body and mind will meet with success when they imbue their practice with five virtues.Others [those who are not born with the extraordinary abilities] too attain the highest level of samadhi, provided their practice is accompanied by conviction, inner strength, retentive power, all-consuming focus, and clear understanding.

For others,the path is faith, energy, mindfulness, meditation and wisdom.

Thankfully, for those who have not attained full detachment from body and mind, Patanjali sets out five ways in which we can still attain the higher samadhi (self realisation). The word ‘faith’ in one of the translations above makes me a bit twitchy – I personally am uncomfortable with ‘blind faith’, or believing in something you have no experience of. However, reassurance is found here:

it is suggested that one test the ideas in one’s own inner laboratory, with the “faith” of Yoga thus being based on direct experience.

‘Conviction’ is a good alternative to ‘faith’.

The ‘inner energy’ in step two is outlined here:

preserving the energy of your body, senses, and mind through all possible means— eat well, sleep well, exercise well, relax, and do not abuse your body and senses through overeating, oversleeping, and unwholesome sense pleasures.

Bit of a no-brainer – look after yourself and you will reap the benefits.

The third step is smriti, the power to recollect, or mindfulness of being on the yogic path, and also being mindful in the meditative sense (a bit of a current buzz-word).

The fourth step is focus or concentration, and can also be thought of as formal meditation. I wonder if steps three and four are similar to the Zen Buddhist practices of samu (mindfulness in the physical tasks of daily life) and zazen (formal sitting meditation).

The fifth step is given as ‘wisdom’, which is quite hard to attain. One commentary describes it as ‘clear understanding’, which feels more achievable –

knowing that everything in the world, including our own body and mind, are the means for gaining self-understanding .

 

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.5

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1.5 The movements of the consciousness are fivefold. They may be cognizable or non-cognizable, painful or non-painful.

[from BKS Iyengar]

Other interpretations:

Those gross and subtle thought patterns  fall into five varieties, of which some are colored and others are uncolored 

The vibrations in the mento-emotional energy are five-fold being agonizing or none-troublesome.

By ‘movements of the consciousness’ or ‘vibrations in the mento-emotional energy’, it means our experiences, thoughts and memories. This sutra is saying that there are five ways in which our mind can be disturbed by such things (an explanation of the five ways follows in 1.6).

This website gives some alternative interpretations for the coloured / uncoloured dichotomy:

  • klishta — aklishta
  • painful — not painful 
  • not useful — useful 
  • afflicted — not afflicted
  • impure — pure
  • troubled — not troubled
  • negative — positive
  • vice — virtue
  • away from enlightenment — towards enlightenment
  • resulting in bondage — resulting in freedom

The practice of yoga can help to eradicate these pains or troubles. In our daily lives we can be aware of things which cloud our minds, through practicing mindfulness, as a way to get back to seeing things as they really are without judgement or interpretation. There is a good article here on Zen Buddhism and its fascination with the mundane activities of everyday life. In the West, we are very much preoccupied with the extraordinary things which might happen. But Zen values the mundane, everyday activities, such as washing the dishes. To be truly mindful, when you wash the dishes, wash the dishes – with no detachment or thinking of what you are having for dinner, that argument with your partner or how much washing you have to get done. Just wash the dishes, feel the temperature of the water on your hands, the squidginess of the sponge, the hardness of the plate, etc. If thoughts about other things come into your mind, just notice them, and let them pass. Don’t force them away, but gently guide your mind back to the task in hand. This is a good way to be more present and to be aware of the distractions in our minds moment-to-moment.