Remember for a moment that the base of your consciousness is pure and still. When you have some time, perhaps this evening when you have wound down from the day, or very early in the morning when the outside world is also still, take a few minutes to dive deep within your heart and find that stillness. And then, during the day, witness for yourself what prevents you from being in that peaceful state all the time. Once we remove all the complexities, our inner nature returns to peace and stillness.
Meditation propels our consciousness towards the core of our being, the center of our existence, and that center is also present at the center of every atom in our body. Yoga is a journey back home to that state of mental well-being, by removing all the patterning, conditioning, complexities and impurities in our field of consciousness. In short, meditation stills our mind.
In this series, we first explored the normal everyday workings of the human mind within the field of consciousness – the 5 vrittis or tendencies – and how they create patterns and conditioning. The vrittis can either be pure, fostering well-being, health and spiritual growth, or colored, creating entanglement, pulling us towards complexity and impurity. From there we explored the next layer of complexity – the 5 kleshas, the colorings or mental afflictions that take us further away from our center of poise, thus leading to imbalance and suffering.
Then we explored how we move even further away from our still center, into the realm of entropy, complexity and instability, as we become more and more entangled in those patterns and afflictions that play out in our life. At this stage, these patterns and habits become obstacles and distractions to our ongoing spiritual journey; they are known as the vikshepas. And accompanying these vikshepas are the 5 vighnas, the outer symptoms of un-wellness that are presented to health practitioners, psychiatrists and healing centers wordwide.
Meditation propels our consciousness towards
the core of our being, the center of our existence,
and that center is also present at the center of every atom in our body.
Yoga is a journey back home to that state of mental well-being,
by removing all the patterning, conditioning, complexities
and impurities in our field of consciousness.
These 5 vighnas are the chronic diseases of our world! Stress, worry, emotional pain, anxiety and depression are a normal part of life for many people. The statistics on people taking antidepressants, painkillers, sleep medication, as well as self-medicating with illegal drugs and alcohol; the number of suicides; the incidence of chronic lifestyle related diseases, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes and cancer, are all overwhelming. They are so common that we no longer see them as abnormal. Nor do we realize how much our lifestyles are out of sync with the circadian (daily) rhythms that are hardwired into our physiology.
These daily rhythms determine our optimal sleep and eating patterns. Even the metabolism of our cellular energy follows the rhythm of the circadian clock. When we don’t sync with natural rhythms, the mitochondrial network is compromised and our cellular energy levels decline. Lifestyles with irregular daily rhythms have been linked with sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. Basically, we are swimming upstream against the current in a lifestyle that is out of sync with nature.
This list of modern symptoms is no different from Patanjali’s description thousands of years ago of the 5 vighnas that accompany the vikshepas. Patanjali’s Sutra says:
1.31: Dukha daurmanasya angam-ejayatva
svasa prasvasa vikshepasahabhuvah.
Mental and physical pain, anguish and grief,
despair and depression, trembling of the body and nervousness,
and irregular inhalation and exhalation,
are the conditions that accompany
the distractions of the mind.
Back in Patanjali’s time, these symptoms were not so commonplace, although ancient tales like the Odyssey and the Mahabharata show us that they were certainly present back then. Today, however, the vighnas along with the vikshepas are the health concern of our era. In a sense, we have reached an overburdened level of mental complexity and heaviness that requires something radical to bring us back to health and balance.
Difficulties, traumas and suffering are nothing new. In fact, many people today are more comfortable than humans have ever been in the past, but as a consequence our resilience to cope with difficulties seems to be lower than ever. A good analogy is a pair of scissors: we are so saturated with pleasure that we have become numb, like scissors that have become blunt through overuse, whereas our intolerance of pain is like super sharp scissors that cut our emotional heart, because we do everything possible to avoid pain.
When we don’t sync with natural rhythms,
the mitochondrial network is compromised
and our cellular energy levels decline.
Lifestyles with irregular daily rhythms have been linked
with sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression,
bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
Basically, we are swimming upstream against
the current in a lifestyle that is out of sync with nature.
HOW DO COMPLEXITIES & IMPURITIES FORM & HOW DO THEY AFFECT US?
In earlier editions of Heartfulness magazine, I described the spiritual anatomy of a human being, with its physical, subtle and causal bodies, its chakra system, and its sheaths known as the koshas. I have also described how we create complexities and impurities that accumulate at various points in this spiritual anatomy, in the field of consciousness, through conditioning. They accumulate as a result of repeated patterns of feeling, emotion and thought, and these in turn lead to repetitive actions. Actions become habits, creating patterns of behavior that become more and more fixed over time, forming impressions in the subtle body. These impressions are known as samskaras.
Swami Vivekananda describes this process in his book, Jnana Yoga: “Suppose I go into the street and see a dog. How do I know it is a dog? I refer it to my mind, and in my mind are groups of all my past experiences, arranged and pigeon-holed, as it were. As soon as a new impression comes, I take it up and refer it to some of the old pigeon-holes, and as soon as I find a group of the same impressions already existing, I place it in that group, and I am satisfied. I know it is a dog, because it coincides with the impressions already there.
“When I do not find the cognates of this new experience inside, I become dissatisfied. When, not finding the cognates of an impression, we become dissatisfied, this state of the mind is called ‘ignorance’; but, when, finding the cognates of an impression already existing, we become satisfied, this is called ‘knowledge’. When one apple fell, men became dissatisfied. Then gradually they found out the group. What was the group they found? That all apples fall, so they called it ‘gravitation’. Now we see that without a fund of already existing experiences, any new experience would be impossible, for there would be nothing to which to refer the new impression.”1
What leads to an anxious mind or a depressed mind?
An anxious mind is one without peace, without stillness,
always turbulent with disturbances and emotional entropy.
It is symptomatic of turmoil in the field of consciousness,
like an ocean in a storm, always churning, always reacting,
addicted to the highs and lows.
Any thought, emotion or action can lead to a vibrational impression in the field of consciousness, and when those impressions are repeated, habits form, creating fixed patterns, which become more rigid and solid over time as samskaras. The forces of soul can bend under the burden of samskaras. These samskaras are the roots of the karmic blueprint of our conditioning. Unless we remove them, we stay trapped in their patterns and we cannot break free, no matter how much we may want to change.
When we combine this understanding with Patanjali’s descriptions of vrittis, kleshas, vikshepas and vighnas, we see how the layers of samskaras form over time, creating emotional heaviness and dysfunction.
How to free ourselves from such a burden? Heartfulness offers a simple, highly effective set of methods to remove these layers and thus reduce the lifestyle maladies that characterize our modern societies. What leads to an anxious mind or a depressed mind? An anxious mind is one without peace, without stillness, always turbulent with disturbances and emotional entropy. It is symptomatic of turmoil in the field of consciousness, like an ocean in a storm, always churning, always reacting, addicted to the highs and lows.
Other symptoms include nervousness, trembling and shaking of the body, and shallow and irregular breathing, sometimes manifesting as panic attacks.
There are many simple Heartfulness techniques that can reverse these symptoms. Even something as simple as keeping your breathing calm and deep when you are feeling stressed and emotional is a great start. Left nostril breathing is even better. Relaxation and Meditation are even better still. There are so many lines of defense, and even more of prevention. It is worth learning some simple techniques your own mental well-being.
1 Vivekananda, Swami, 1899. Jnana Yoga, chapter 12, ‘The Cosmos, The Microcosm’. Vedanta Press, USA.
Article by KAMLESH PATEL
December 03, 2019
December 03, 2019
December 03, 2019