वृत्तयः पञ्चतय्यः क्लिष्टाक्लिष्टाः॥५॥
vṛttayaḥ pañcatayaḥ kliṣṭākliṣṭāḥ
- Mental activity is five-fold, and maybe harmful or helpful. – CT
- There are five kinds of changing states of the mind, and they are either detrimental or non detrimental [to the practice of yoga]. – EBF
- There are five kinds of mental modifications which are either painful or painless. -SS
pañcataya—of five types, five-fold
kliṣṭa—hinder, harm, detrimental
a-kliṣṭa—do not hinder, non-harmful, non-detrimental
This begins the discussion on the Vṛttis-s or mental activities. The Vṛttis-s are always changing, never-ending, and temporary. They are the thoughts and emotions housed in our heart-mind field, Citta. Patanjali organizes them into 5 types, that will be defined in the following sutras.
Our Vṛttis-s spring forth from our Saṃskāra, the deep habitual impressions in our Citta, our individual heart mind field of consciousness. Vṛttis-s also lead to saṃskāra-s, further enforcing our state of mind. Our state of mind here is the play of sensual impressions, thoughts, ideas, cognitions, and psychic activities at any given moment that influences our behavior.
Patanjali also describes the Vṛttis-s as being either kliṣṭa (harmful) or akliṣṭa (helpful). Harmful mental activity leads to karma, the cycle of action-reaction-rereaction…, and keeps us bound to Prakṛti, the external world. This type of mental activity has the qualities of tamas (heaviness) and rajas (aggression) Guṇa-s. Helpful mental activity leads to liberation in divine consciousness, Puruṣa, and a sattvic (divine) state of mind.
This reminds me of the Law of Attraction, the quality of our mind is directly related to our quality of experience. This is a challenging idea because it puts us in the driver seat of our own lives, we are responsible for ourself and our own experience. This is also a liberating idea, it gives us the awareness and power to change the thoughts and experiences in our lives that separate us from our own divine truth and bliss.
Harmful and Helpful to what? These activities are considered to be helpful or detrimental to the practice and experience of Yoga, the cessation of activity in the mind. The Vṛttis-s absorb the consciousness of Puruṣa, distracting us from our own true nature, however, though meditation we develop discerning intellect that allows us to see the fullness of Puruṣa.
Harmful Vṛttis-s have also been described as selfish mental activities that ultimately cause pain. Helpful Vṛttis-s have been described as selfless. This is important because it requires us to explore not only our thoughts but our motivations, the underlying inspirations for our inner and outer actions. This means that we can not rely solely on analyzing just the outward, superficial thoughts and actions, but that we have to dig a little deeper, forging a wholehearted relationship with ourselves so that we can understand our own deep-seated needs and desires.
When we sit to meditate we are providing ourselves with the opportunity to watch our thoughts, becoming more intimately familiar with our own mind. This familiarity with ourselves gives us the opportunity to analyze our own habitual mental patterns and tendencies. With this awareness of ourselves, we are empowered to change the patterns that we find, patterns that do not support our true nature. We can start to break our own mental patterns by inserting Sattvic thoughts. At first intermittently but with diligent and continual practice the natural state of our thoughts and the quality of our mind becomes Sattvic, maybe with intermitted harmful thoughts at first but eventually without interruption. This quality of mind influence how we experience the outer world and how with interact with it.
However, it is important to remember that to experience Yoga one must surpass all mental activity because even the helpful thoughts are an external distraction from the Divine.
Guide me to that which is in my highest good. Help me to distinguish what nourishes my soul and what deteriorates my being. Lead me down the path of wisdom so that I may show up fully in each moment. Let my study be enlightening and fruitful. Allow my practice to benefit all beings. -Namaste
- Take a comfortable seat, one that feels both regal and relaxed.
- Turn your attention to your breath, closing your mouth inhale and exhale through both nostrils.
- Start to restrict the throat so that you feel the breath from the throat to the heart, and it makes and oceanic sound.
- Start to lengthen both the inhale and exhale so that they are balanced.
- Feel the sensation of the body expanding in all directions during the inhalation and the contracting sensation during the exhalation.
- Continue for 5 minutes, then allow the breath to return to normal.
- Allowing the body to breath, sit for 5 more minutes focusing on the breath.
- What are the patterns of my mind?
- Do I have habitual patterns of thought or a common state of mind?
- What are my usual motives or intentions?
- If I am being honest with myself are they selfish or selfless?
- How are my mental actives reflected in my interactions with the outside world?
What does this remind me of? Other stories, scriptures, or teachings.