In this series so far, we have seen how complexities and impurities start to accumulate, by exploring the normal everyday workings of the human mind – how the 5 vrittis work in the field of consciousness. Some of the vrittis are pure and in sync with mental balance, while others are colored and take us away from that pure, balanced state. Then we explored the next layer of complexity – the 5 kleshas or mental afflictions that take us further away from our center of balance, and result in suffering.
Now we continue further away from that center, into the realm of entropy, complexity and instability, as we become more and more entangled in the afflictions that play out in our daily lives. We create behavioral patterns and habits through the accumulation of samskaras, and these lead to all sorts of ailments. Yoga calls these ailments or obstacles vikshepas. Patanjali described 9 of them in his Yoga Sutras, a few thousand years ago. In this day and age we can add a few more to the list.
We have already discussed the need to spend some time every day focused inward on the core of our being, of our existence, in order to counteract the entropy that would otherwise take us outward into entanglements, suffering and afflictions. That is what we do in Heartfulness Meditation – we turn inward through the heart. It is very simple: when we direct the attention of the mind towards the heart, we move towards balance, peace, stillness and harmony; when we direct the attention of the mind outward into the external world, without a strong connection to the heart, we encounter more and more entropy and instability.
Daily life is the interplay of the two currents – the outward and inward flow of energy and attention. Once we are well established in our inward connection with the heart, it permeates our being and oozes out into every other aspect of life, so that we are able to avoid the pull of outward entropy. This is the most preventative approach to mental health we could possibly take. Imagine if every young person knew how to do this before embarking on the journey of life, how different the world would be.
Now, what happens when that inward attention or connection is not developed, when we are not centered in the core of our heart? We become like leaves tossed about in the wind. Whatever colorings or afflictions are there in our system become more complex and manifest as the vikshepas, the obstacles and distractions to our further progress.
Patanjali described these obstacles as follows:
1.30: Vyadhi styana samsaya pramada-alasyaavirati
citta-vikshepah te antarayah
Vyadhi – disease,
Styana – languor, mental dullness, apathy,
Samsaya – dilemma, indecision,
Pramada – carelessness, haste, indifference,
Alasya – laziness, sloth,
Avirati – absence of non-attachment, sensuality,
Bhrantidarsana – false perception, blindness,
Alabdha-bhumikatva – not attaining the condition or stage, lack of determination, and
Anavasthitatvani – instability, not retaining the condition are the obstacles that distract the mind.
In the modern context, we can add a few more to the list:
Fear of missing out (FOMO),
Digital distraction, and
Guilt and Shame.
Article by KAMLESH PATEL
Kamlesh Patel is known to many as Daaji. He is the Heartfulness Guide in a tradition of Yoga meditation that is over 100 years old, overseeing 14,000 certified Heartfulness trainers and many volunteers in over 130 countries. He is an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the fields of spirituality and science, blending the... Read more