Causes for the Modification of the Mind

In his Yoga Sutras Patanjali lists five classes of chitta vrtti which create pleasure and pain. The five things that disrupt inner peace:

Pramana (a standard or ideal), by which things or values are measured by the mind or known, which men accept upon (a) direct evidence such as perception (pratyaksa), (b) inference (anumana) and (c) testimony or the word of an acceptable authority when the source of knowledge has been checked as reliable and trustworthy (agama).

Viparyaya (a mistaken view which is observed to be such after study). A faulty medical diagnosis based on wrong hypotheses, or the formerly held theory in astronomy that the Sun rotates around the Earth, are examples of viparyaya.

Vikalpa (fancy or imagination, resting merely on verbal expression
without any factual basis). A beggar may feel happy when he imagines himself spending millions. A rich miser, on the other hand, may starve himself in the belief that he is poor.

Nidra (sleep), where there is the absence of ideas and experiences.
When a man is sleeping soundly, he does not recall his name, family or status, his knowledge or wisdom, or even his own existence. When a man forgets himself in sleep, he wakes up refreshed. But, if a disturbing thought creeps into his mind when he is dropping off, he will not rest properly.

Smrti (memory, the holding fast of the impressions of objects that one has experienced). There are people who live in their past experiences, even though the past is beyond recall. Their sad or happy memories keep them chained to the past and they cannot break their fetters.

Patainjali enumerates five causes of chitta vrtti creating pain (klesa).

  • Avidya (ignorance or nescience)
  • Asmita (the feeling of individuality which limits a person and distinguishes him from a group and which may be physical, mental, intellectual or emotional)
  • Raga (attachment or passion)
  • Dvesa (aversion or revulsion)
  • Abhinivesa (love of or thirst for life, the instinctive clinging to worldly life and bodily enjoyment and the fear that one may be cut off from all this by death).

These causes of pain remain submerged in the mind of the sadhaka (the aspirant or seeker). They are like icebergs barely showing their heads in the polar seas. So long as they are not studiously controlled and eradicated, there can be no peace. The yogi learns to forget the past and takes no thought for the morrow. He lives in the eternal present. As a breeze ruffles the surface of a lake and distorts the images reflected therein, so also the chitta vrtti disturb the peace of the mind. The still waters of a lake reflect the beauty around it. When the mind is still, the beauty of the Self is seen reflected in it. The yogi stills his mind by constant study and by freeing himself from desires. The eight limbs of Yoga teach him the way.


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Micah Lyn is a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner HHP, Intuitive Healer and E-RYT 500 Certified Yoga Teacher registered with Yoga Alliance and KRI. She offers a variety of private yoga classes in Sedona AZ, yoga therapy and intuitive healing services at Pachamama Yoga ✨ Sedona Healing Center. Visit the YTT Programs & Workshops page to see upcoming Online & Hands-on Intensive Yoga Teacher Training, Virtual Online Yoga Workshops & Transformational Yoga Retreats featured worldwide.

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