The Mind Whirlpool—and How to Calm the Waves
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
The mind. It can be a calm ocean of happiness and peace or it can be a whirlpool, dangerous and just plain scary. Our minds are often bombarded with many thoughts that must be controlled. There’s no limit to what we as humans can accomplish, but that darn mind…..it’s not always pleasant.
The sanskrit term for the conscious mind is Citta and the mind chatter, also known as the monkey mind, is called Vrtti.
So yoga citta vritti nirodha translates to yoga stops, or stills the mind fluctuations. Ta-da!
According to The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (one of the most revered and important yoga texts)
“Yoga is the control of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field.”
These thought patterns come in 5 different forms:
- Valid Cognition (Pramana) right knowledge, valid proof, seeing clearly
- Misconception (Viparyaya) false knowledge
- Imagination (Vikalpa), delusion
- Sleep (Nidra) dreamless sleep
- Memory (Smriti) remembering
Thoughts can be painful, or pleasant. If I received a dollar for every negative thought that entered my mind, I’d be a very rich woman. Sometimes certain events can trigger these thoughts, and sometimes there really is something bad happening in your life and it can be hard to escape these thoughts. When I look back on the past, sometimes I allow that emotional pain to come back into the present. It’s normal to feel this way, but these thoughts must be neutralized.
How do we neutralize the mind?
There must be a deep devotion to practice yoga (including all 8 limbs) on a daily basis. Sometimes it can be difficult when life gets in the way. Work demands, school, raising children and family life, can really limit our free time. Somehow, yoga must be worked into our schedule because the effects of not practicing can cause a ripple of effects.
According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.21
“Those who pursue their practices with intensity of feeling, vigor, and firm conviction achieve concentration and the fruits thereof more quickly, compared to those of medium or lesser intensity.”
(tivra samvega asannah)
How many of us have practiced yoga and then skipped Savasana? It’s a shame, but I can admit to doing this on several occasions. Naturally after a good yoga practice, our body is relaxed from all the endorphins and it’s easy to say, “I’m done!” Um no. Meditation must be performed for a few minutes before practice or afterwards. Skipping meditation is like skipping dinner and going straight for a bowl of ice cream. Okay, maybe not the best analogy but you know what I mean. You’re not getting the nutrients you need to flourish!
Filter the Noise
When we understand the classifications of our thoughts, we can filter out what’s helpful and what’s harmful. Negative thoughts can quickly be sent back where they came from. Positive is what allows us to thrive and reach our goals and aspirations. Those are the thoughts that should be acknowledged and focused on. Thoughts like “I can’t do this.” or “I’m not good enough.” must be tossed into the fire. In addition, negativity from other people must not be tolerated. We have to replace these with “I can and will do this.” “I will succeed.” etc.
Have you ever been stressed about something, and let out a long, deep sigh and felt better? Prana is life force energy. We can’t live without breathing. Taking a long, slow deep breath and then exhaling slowly revitalizes us. It’s also super important when practicing yoga. When you have controlled breath, you perform poses more graceful and at ease. When negative thoughts enter your mind. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Calm the waves.
‘Every breath you take, Every move you make, I’ll be watching you.’ Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Thank you so much for reading. Please like and share this with friends! Namaste.