This post is part of a series of reflections on the Yoga Sutras, an ancient yogic text that is the basis of much of our modern day yoga. For a general introduction to the Yoga Sutras see: The Yoga Sutras: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life.
Sutra 1:5: vrttaya panchatayayyah klishtaklishtah
There are five changing states of mind and they are either detrimental or not.
Sutra 1:6: pramana-viparyaya-vialpanidra-smrtayah
They are correct knowledge, misperception, imagination, sleep, and memory.
When studying the ever fluctuating mind, it can be helpful to ask- “Am I perceiving things as they really are?” Our minds filter all sensory input through the filters of our previous learning and experience- drawing on memories, imagination, and often resulting in a misperception of what is actually happening. These stories we make up can create inner conflict and suffering.
Knowing that the mind acts in this way can be empowering for us. We can take a step back when our minds are churning and ask ourselves- “What is really happening here?”
Yoga can help us focus on the experience of the present moment. Developing this focus takes practice, time, and effort. Often when we check in with ourselves in the present moment, we find out that everything is just fine here and now. We might be able to recognize that our current situation is not what is causing us trouble, and that actually the stories that our mind is making up based on memories, imagination, or misperception are actually what are causing us turmoil.