Five Modulations of the Mind

Patanjali Yoga Sutras - Knowledge Sheet 4

Contd. from knowledge sheet 3

So what is yoga? It is our second sutra.

Chitta vrutti nirodaha

Yoga is the act of restraining or freeing the mind from the clutches of its modulations.
- Patanjali Yoga Sutra #2

There are five types of modulations of the mind:

  • Wanting proof for everything
  • Lack of comprehension
  • Imagination
  • Sleep
  • Memory

All through the day, your mind is in one of these modulations. But, if there are those moments when you are not sleeping, not remembering old things, not imagining, or looking for proof, then that moment yoga has happened.

At that moment, what is happening? You are just by yourself in the journey of your own Self, which is the source of joy, the source of love, the source of peace and knowledge.

There are two types of thinking — occidental and oriental. In the oriental way of thinking, it said that there is an ultimate and in the ultimate everything happens. In the occidental way of thinking, you are always looking for an ultimate. In either of the approaches, yoga is what happens when you are in the moment so totally at ease and peace.

So, when does this happen? Whenever you are watching the sunset or when you experience beauty in your life or when you experience lot of energy in the body. This also happens after pranayam (breathing techniques) or during meditation. The mind is then free from all these five modulations. That is why when you do yoga asanas (yoga postures), you put the body, mind, and breath all in one rhythm. That is when real yoga is happening and you are with yourself.

Tado drashtuhu swarupe avasthanam

The seer then rests or remains in his/her own nature.
- Patanjali Yoga Sutra #3

Discipline is to unite yourself, to unite all the loose ends of your existence.

Vrutti sarupyamitaratra

You identify yourself with the modulations of the mind all the time.
- Patanjali Yoga Sutra #4

What this means is that your mind is engaged in the outside world all the time. With eyes open in the waking state you are caught up in all that you see, smell, hear, touch, taste. If not, you return to sleep or to the state of dreaming where you are completely shut off from the world.

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(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)

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