Man is a thinking being. They keep breeding and entertaining thoughts nonstop. They may be in response to external stimuli, or the ones arising out of in-store impressions. Mind even flirts around with assumed thoughts and keeps entertaining them for long. During the 24 hours in a day, it is barely for 45 to 50 minutes of deep slumber that mind is at rest. Even during dream stage, mind keeps entertaining thoughts picked up during waking stage in recent or distant past. Not to say anything about waking state. Supposedly every being attends to somewhere close to between sixty and seventy thousand thoughts every day. Mind is not at rest even while one is apparently idling. This human predicament is beautifully portrayed in a couplet by late Maithili Sharan Gupta, a famous Hindi poet. This, he wrote describing Lakșman’s state of mind while guarding alone Lord Rama and his consort Sita, sleeping at the dead of night in a fierce jungle, during their fourteen years of exile.
“Koi pāsa narahne par bhῑ janman maun nahi rahtā;
Āp-āpki suntā hai waha āp-āpko hi kahtā.”
Its literal translation comes out as:
“Even if nobody is around, mind is not at rest,
It keeps listening and speaking to itself.”
This way, invariably mind remains loaded with a massive crowd of thoughts and feelings, ordinarily difficult to contend with ease. Out of that massive crowd, some of the thoughts, as well as feelings lead to action. Not all thoughts translate into action. The weaker thoughts die out. But every action is necessarily preceded by a thought. And it goes without saying that thinking and feeling hold the key to all actions on our part. Evidently, the character, content, and intent of the thought and feeling will define the quality of our efforts and thereby fruits of actions thereto.
What if the thought-crowd occupying the mind becomes unruly, which invariably remains the case with most of us? Consequently, mind becomes restive. It then begins aimlessly wandering hither and thither, and usually gets lost in the unwieldy thought crowd. It loses its sense of purpose and direction. Caught up in this bind, mind loses the sense of alert necessary to invoke one’s faculty of discriminate intelligence for due diligence on account of attention deficiency, and with obvious consequences.
The question that follows now: How to ensure picking up qualitative and well-intended thoughts, worthy of leading to happy ending? It obviously calls for purifying our mind of all inconsequential and undesirable thought imprints. But for which, mind will be short of the space and time necessary for meaningful application. The irony, however, is that a disorderly mind caught up virtually in an impregnable dense jungle of thoughts, hosting untamed wild thought-animals, by itself cannot find a way out. Even otherwise, standing on a plane, which hosts problems, it is not easy to find a way out.
Here comes the role of a Guru, who first enlightens you with the mirror image of what you are. He then shows the way forward to steer clear of the mental mesh and create ground for restoring its orderly functioning. Following which, he leads you through a step-by-step process to acquire the state of Yoga”.
Let us now have a look at eight-fold path to Yoga as suggested by Patanjali.
1.Yama – Self-restraint from all delusionary temptations, and unbecoming conduct.
2.Niyama – Subjecting oneself to a set of moral discipline.
3.Āsana – Subjecting oneself to a regular physical exercise regime to ensure physical fitness and agility of body. Following which, one could adopt a posture suited to effortlessly pursue dhyāna.
4.Pranāyāma – A set of breathing exercise that helps body-mind coordination and ensures mental agility.
5.Pratyāhāra – Senses are made to withdraw attention from the outer-world and turned inwards.
6. Dhāranā – Training the mind to get focused to wherever attention is paid.
7. Dhyāna – It is a state of being when one is able to effortlessly maintain unbroken focus on what is targeted. In fact, the target becomes a part of one’s awareness.
8. Samādhi – State of being, arrived at after dropping all contents of mind, when the seer, seen, and the seeing become one seamless awareness.
Preparing for dhyāna
Before meditation is taken up, it would be desirable to first create a favourable inner climate. That calls for consciously acknowledging certain inescapable realities.
Please bear in mind that dhyāna does not call for trying hard to concentrate. But following the process, concentration power develops over a period of time.