Last week, I began a new elective class at school, Philosophy of Yoga. I’m big into philosophy, so I knew I would like this class quite a bit. I have to say, the first class was three and a half hours of intense discussion and I left with a bit of a headache. I confess towards the end I had stopped listening all together, and realized that each class will be on heavy subject matter. Although, something very interesting stuck out to me in our discussions, something I have been contemplating on all week. At the moment, it still seems abstract to me, and I am trying to figure it out and use it to my own benefit. Allow me a minute to open up to you.
I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive disorder. Now the “OCD” that you hear people claim they have because they like to keep their closets clean or can’t handle a few crumbs around. The real form of OCD where you have nagging, obsessive thoughts that you cannot clear from your head unless you follow up with a compulsion that irrationally seems to soothe whatever unrelated thought you had. The kind that interrupts your day because you’re afraid to touch a door handle because of the germs. The OCD that affects your relationships, and if someone calls you crazy it deeply hurts because you know that deep down you have a rational mind that knows what you are doing isn’t rational, yet you cannot control it. It’s incredibly embarrassing to discuss, let alone publish out here for all to see. In fact, I take medication for it, which doesn’t really even help.
So, when the discussion in class turned to being able to control your mind, I tuned in instantly. Of course, in my mind, I said to myself “That’s great for the average person, but when you cannot even get a grip on your own mind, where do I begin to even attempt to control it?” So I had the idea to just listen, observe what the teacher was sharing, and just meditate on it. That’s what I have been doing for seven days, and I wanted to share with you what I have learned.
According to Patanjali’s yoga sutras, the mind can be in one of five places. It can also be in a combination of any of these five places. That being said, it will always BE IN these five places, no where else. Knowing that your thoughts are in at least one of these places allows you to know your mind a bit more. Lately, when I am having an irrational thought, I think to myself “Which place is my mind in right now?” and that allows me to determine a little bit better why I am having these thoughts. It’s not a cure all, for me, but it helps me feel a bit more in control.
What are the five categories of the mind?
- Correct Perception- This category of the mind is what you are seeing is your reality. You are correctly perceiving what is before you, and it is clear. What you see is what you get.
- Incorrect Perception- What you are seeing as your reality is being colored by your own perception. You are not in a correct state of perception, and there is a bias or filter on your reality. You are seeing what you want to see as your truth, but that does not always mean it is the truth. I spent time here quite a bit, and I assume a lot of others do as well.
- Sleep- Your mind works hard while you are asleep. The mind is digesting your subconscious thoughts, as well as what you observed throughout the day, which may make their way into your dreams.
- Memory- This is a state of mind that allows the other states of minds to slip in as well. You may have a memory- but is it a correct perception or incorrect perception? As it is known, many memories are often exaggerated or remembered differently than someone else who always was there when the memory was made. It is colored by your own perception.
- Imagination- This is where your mind is at play. Your subconscious might come out through your imagination, it may peek into your sleep state of mind in your dreams, or daydreams.
Knowing these five states of mind can be incredibly helpful if you want to begin to control your mind and not let it control you. Say you are having a fear crop up. For example, that fear is of heights, and you are heading onto a plane. What state of mind are you in? I bet that state of mind is 1. Incorrect perception (the plane will crash because other planes have crashed in the past!) 2. Imagination (I’ve been having thoughts of the plane crashing and even had a dream about it!) or 3. Memory (When I was a kid I fell out of a tree and now I am terrified of heights!). Now that you know where your mind is, you can begin to center it back to the correct perception.
Hopefully this helps you as much as it helped me.
Love & Light.