The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali (Classical Yoga Text).
1:2 "Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah"
Yogah (Yogas) = Yoga (is)
Citta = Of the mind-stuff, mind field
Vrtti = Modifications
Nirodhah = Restraint
The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.
(Yoga is mastery of the roaming tendency of the mind.)
“In this sutra, Pantanjali gives the goal of Yoga. For a keen student, this one sutra would be enough because the rest of them only explain this one. If the restraint of the mental modifications is achieved, one has reached the goal of Yoga. The entire science of Yoga is based on this. Patanjali has given the definition of Yoga and, at the same time the practice. If you can control the rising of the mind into ripples, you will experience Yoga.” (Page 3 of the Sri Swami Satchidananda translation.)
When our lives are full and bursting with different distractions, drawing our minds in one direction or another, or driving our emotions up and down, it is helpful to remember this Sutra.
I know it’s tempting to multi-task, and sometimes needs must, but for the most part, we could be more disciplined with where we pay our attention. Much of the time, for many of us, it’s fragmented, jumping from one thing to the next. So in moments like these, try and focus on the task at hand; whatever activity you are carrying out make the intention to be fully present. Concentrate on that one thing and immerse yourself in it completely. Then punctuate those moments of transition between one activity to another.
- Catch yourself reaching for your phone when you are meant to be working or trying to complete a task.
- Notice those times when you are meant to be listening to someone but start getting distracted by something else.
- Be aware of your surroundings; when you are in nature, see it, smell it, feel it, or when you are driving, keep all your attention on the road.
Also, notice when your feelings fluctuate. Are you someone who is easily stressed, anxious, angry or irritable? Do you have extreme highs and dark lows? When an intense, undesirable emotion arises, acknowledge it and allow it to be there. But try not to feed it or give it more energy than it needs, particularly if it feels like it’s taking hold of you. Know that it is fleeting; it is energy in the body and mind, it is not tangible, it is not who you are. Yes, you are experiencing something, but it will pass.
Just by bringing more awareness to it will likely help you process it better and quicker than if you were lost in thought. And focusing the mind upon something calming, like long deep breaths, will draw the thinking mind to a place of greater stillness and help lessen the fluctuations. Essentially instead of the mind-controlling you, you can begin to control it.
"Yoga is a state of connection between our heart and the object on which we have chosen to focus, resulting in the quietening of our mental activities, so that we can maintain this connection for a reasonable period of time." Dr Kausthub Desikachar (The successor and current lineage holder of the classical Yoga tradition of T Krishnamacharya & TKV Desikachar.)
To train the mind and bring its focus to one thing, head over to the following post for some helpful practices.