Five states of the mind

There are five states of the mind according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.

1. Kshipta (scattered) — Most common state of the mind when we are awake.  In this state, the mind is restless, jumping from one thought to another, from one emotion to the next and from object to the next.  

In a fast pacing environment like nowadays, our five senses keep receiving different types of information. Our mind automatically analyzes the information and derives thoughts. If the thoughts lead to happiness, we feel happy. If the thoughts lead to sad or envy, we feel envy.  As a result, we feel unstable. The emotion fluctuates so fast and we feel tired easily.  Our energy is all wasted during the different strong emotions. No matter it’s happiness, sadness, disappointment or angry. For example, I often feel very tired after a rage.  Besides, I have read a survey article claiming that people now are more depressed due to the social media because they feel others are happier than themselves from the blogs or the facebook.  So maybe we have to ask ourselves how many times we will be influenced by others’ lives? 

2. Mudha (dull) — The mind is dull, lethargic and lacking any alertness. In the mudha state no productive work can be achieved.

Normally, Mudha is rarely inherent or permanent. Usually it’s caused by a traumatic experience, for example, when a desired goal has so many obstacles that the goals seems to be impossible to attain. Depressive people are in Mudha. Normally it’s because of successive failures to take control of their lives, some people will withdraw into dullness. This is exacerbated by either insomnia or oversleeping which may lead to even worse condition. To my own experience, normally I will not be in this state for long time. But often right after some severe failures, I will be temporally transit into this state for a short while. Knowing about the nature of this state is very beneficial for me to get out from this state even faster. 

3. Vikshipta (partially focused) – The mind can find moments of focus and concentration

I occasionally find myself into this state when I am so focused into certain things. I feel myself very efficient and content. For example, But I cannot maintain this focused state and constantly goes back to lack of confidence.   

The other two states are Ekagra (One-pointed) and Niruddha (fully arrested in concentration). It seems that I haven’t experienced these two states and I wish that through continuous yoga practice, I can reach these two states to obtain real freedom.  

By Sophia WEI

Jan-May, 200Hrs Weekend TTC