“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ~ Plutarch.
It’s all in the mind. We interact with the universe with our thoughts. Even when we are asleep, our mind is operating – the continuous flow of thoughts lead to two states of minds i.e. peace or chaos. We feel chaotic and confused in a few situations, whereas in others, the mind is deeply calm and concentrated. When one practices Yoga or any form of meditation, one can observe the mind shifting to a higher state. By knowing the ways of the mind, one can observe the flow of thoughts and subsequently take steps to calm oneself. An insight into ways of mind can be really helpful in dealing with your mind and its perplexing condition. In Yoga, the human mind is known as “Markata” as in a monkey because of it’s wandering nature. Yoga classifies the mind into five states, according to Nyaya Bhasya (Nyaya Sutras written by Aksapada Gautama in the 2nd century CE.) –
1) Kshipta (Restless wandering)
It is a state of mind where the mind is like a pendulum. It is unable to reach to a conclusion. One is anxious due to the restlessness of the mind. Everything around appears unsettled and concentrating becomes problematic. The attention is constantly shifting or fluctuating. Mind is not steady. One experiences this state of mind because of collision of thoughts. In this condition, one should try to avoid several chains of thoughts in the mind and wait for the matter to come on the surface on its own. It is the lowest state of the mind to be in.
2) Mudha (Infatuated, Forgetful)
One goes through this condition when one is extremely angry or is experiencing series of emotions. It’s a kind of distraction that takes birth because of attachment, hatred or greediness. The flow of energy in the mind is blocked. The mind is dull and forgetful. One has to work on de-cluttering and rebooting oneself.
3) Vikshipta (Distracted mind)
In this state, the mind is distracted, occasionally steady but it’s easily drawn here and there. One is dealing with a compromised sense of self. The mind is experiencing parallel and conflicting chain of thoughts. Vacaspati Misra, an Indian philosopher who founded one of the main Advaita Vedanta schools, says in his book “Tattva vaisaradi” that it’s a condition of the mind brought by a disease, disinclination or gluttony. This is one of the extremely negative conditions of the mind. And one should not be dwelling in this mental state at all as it clogs the mind and poisons the thought process with pessimism. The Vikshipta mind can be easily influenced and manipulated. A person faces self-doubt, agony and fear in this state where the internal and external worlds are constantly clashing. One needs to take essential steps to purify this state of mind. Introspection and knowledge of self are two sole factors that help the mind in the cleansing process.
4) Ekagra (Focus, Knowledge)
Ekagra means that the mind has achieved one-pointed concentration and the person is fully present in the moment, unaffected by any external factors. Unlike in Vikshipta, concentration is not forced as it comes effortlessly and naturally. In this state of mind, one can connect with their higher spiritual self, as the mind is deeply focused and is able to choose the peaceful path. In this condition, one has thorough knowledge of reality and has control over the mind and its’ string of thoughts. The mind is peaceful and full of energy. It is on its desired spiritual path. 5) Niruddha (Final epiphany) The Niruddha mind is in complete stillness and goes through series of epiphanies. When the mind is mastered and regulated, it is devoid of thought patterns. One learns to rise above the self and becomes spiritually intelligent. It is the most desired state of mind. It is calm and still. Thoughts are just like watching passers-by from the gallery.
The breath is in control and the mind is on its journey to explore its magnificence. This state of mind is generally achieved through meditation and deep contemplation. To achieve the Niruddha state of mind, one must master the ability to control the flow of thoughts and overcome all the obstacles. Awareness of the state of mind can help to lead your way out of chaos. It’s in the stillness that you can feel your mind and knowing that you are completely alive through self-knowledge. Like the Buddha said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”