To Think or not to Think

“. . . yoga is not an antithought practice. Instead it is the refinement of the art of thinking, allowing chains of thought to unfold within an open sky of compassion and intelligence. Rather than just giving up with an attitude of, “well, thought has gotten us into all of this trouble so now we are not going to think at all'” yoga encourages clear, penetrating thinking.”

from The Mirror of Yoga: Awakening the Intelligence of Body and Mind by Richard Freeman

The Yoga Sũtra talks about five types of vrttis or mind processes. They are pramãna or true perception, viparaya or wrong perception, vikalpa or divided imagination, nidrã or sleep and smrtayah or memory. These five types of mind processes are said to make us either miserable (klista) or not miserable (aklista), and when we engage in the practice of yoga they become stepping-stones for our practice.

True perception (pramãna) is thoughts that are clear, truthful, and honest ideas about the world. In contrast, wrong perception (viparaya), is seen as mistaken thought and theory that is based on misunderstanding. The third vrtti, vikalpa, is the way the mind constructs its experience through imagination. It is combining images and perceptions in the thought process without a correspondence to any established substance or event. The next vrtti is sleep (nidrã). When we are asleep we are in a state of inertia, while the mind is overcome by dreams, preventing it from being awake and alert.

Memories or smrtayah do not just reach all the corners of our lives, but are considered to reach even from one life to another. Memory relates to our deepest emotions and holds many of our unconscious attitudes, anxieties and fears. Richard Freeman says that “Smrtayah allows us to let go of chains of past experience and thought that have led to faulty perception and misinterpretation of reality in the present moment. This clarification of the layers within memory is accomplished through meditation practice and by observing whatever is arising just as it is without meddling – without attempting to change or fix anything, without grasping or pushing away the memory.”

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1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Pare said,

    September 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Loving your blogs & date recipe


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