The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.
The second Sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga sutras it could be said, sums up yoga.
As you start to unwind what that means you begin to see why there are so many Sutras. I have found myself repeating this in yoga sessions and gatherings, as a constant reminder of how humbling it can be to start at the beginning, and always have that to refer back to.
This of course is only one translation of these words, there are many versions, but for continuity we’ll stick with this. To change this set of words could dramatically change the meaning of the text, and I find this translation to be full and lively for the modern mind.
This curious and fascinating text brings to mind my father’s fascination with maps, and I think, the satisfaction of seeing the whole picture, at least, that which your eyes are trained on, and finding paths here and there, perhaps even planning possible directions not often used. Often a technique used when injuries occur in the body, or obstacles bar your way in any venture.
“The restraint of modifications”. The western mind, as I have, immediately wants to escape any restraint, and be free. Why does it suggest holding anything back? Surely to be free means untethered? Of course it does. But to realise that the gate has always been open as you sit in your corral is not an easy sight to see.
These words lift the veil, shows you that your escape is not outside you, it is within, this journey begins within, with discipline, and kindness, with understanding.
We humans feel so much, we are brought up to understand feelings in different ways, in this instance we are looking at how we might lower the emotional impact of the “worldly winds” on our minds, on our very being. To let a peaceful “restraint” hold the wild and energetically expensive emotional reactions to situations in which we put ourselves.
Restraint may have negative connotations, but language is all to be held lightly, not taken personally.
Rather than being the emotion, it is to feel your emotions- with enthusiasm, with an observing eye. All the feelings. The good the bad, the…. Neutral, and to watch yourself, feeling.
“Citta” such a massive word, can mean all sorts of things, body mind, heart mind, soul, essence, source. It is your inner world, how do you experience being “you” can you use the feeling realm as a deeper sense, just like hearing or seeing, Citta, lies beneath, ready to be read.
“The whole of your outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your projection. Your values may change within a fraction of a second… This is why Yoga does not bother much about changing the outside world, There is a Sanskrit saying, “Mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha mokshayoho” as the mind so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind” if you feel boud, you are bound, if you feel liberated, you are liberated. Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.” Yoga Sutras (YS)commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
To yolk, to bring together, to bond, Yoga is a word which has taken on many meanings in the last century, all of these amazing ideas have evolved form the original yogas, from the ancient practices and texts, perhaps diluting, but perhaps enhancing. Each person will have a different perspective, opinions rule the mind, and we are good at being fixated on things as it helps us feel more secure.
Yoga is always changing, and always will. There are routines in asana which originated many hundreds of years ago, but they didn’t wear lycra, or have sticky mats. Some modern traditionalists might wear a loin cloth and practice on the dusty earth, and spend the rainy season in meditation.
One of the beautiful things about this yolking, or union which occurs within a sangha, the community of like minded yogis & yoginis or simply those gathering once a week to move together silently, however it is experienced, it is inclusive. All humans may try. It is an invitation to get to know yourself better, to find out what your inner map looks and feels like.
“Vrittis” the ripples that are created in the being as a response to stimulus; Pleasant, painful or neutral.
Have you ever noticed that when something shocking happens, or if something disturbs your inner world, it may take a few emotional states or stages to settle again. It may never settle and end up being quite a wild experience, but these emotions are like ripples on water.
Think of the expanse of water beneath the ripple, how affected it is? The air above, intimately linked, and yet this ripple may end up being forgettable, one of many, or simply a beautiful pattern to watch.