In our yoga and meditation practice we are often trying to quieten the mind, this is a great skill to refine however this is not going to be the solution to our worries to simply stop worrying or over thinking. It is like putting a plaster on a serious cut, it might cover it up but it will not heal the wound! The more we can watch without judgement the workings and patterns of our own mind the more we begin to know and understand ourselves intimately. The more understanding we have of this mysterious matter that takes charge of decisions from the mundane to the life changing the more chance we might have of taking control back of this wondrous thing.
In Buddhist philosophy they see the mind split into 4 main parts. There are 3 very active parts of the mind;
Chitta – the part of your mind that stores and processes your memories/ impressions
Manas – the part of your mind stimulated by sensory matters surrounding you.
Ahamkara – the part of the mind that is connected to the ‘ego’. I. Ones likes and dislikes, needs, ‘I know something to be true or untrue’, etc..
Then there is the 4th part of the mind which is:
Buddhi – This is the part of your mind that makes decisions, it is your intellect. Using what you know from the above 3 parts of the mind, processing them and then coming to a final conclusion.
If our chitta, manas and ahamkara are all over active and uninterrupted then this makes the role of buddhi harder to action. The saying you can’t see the wood from the trees comes to mind.. The more over crowded our mind is the less clear and decisive we are. By watching our thinking active mind we can begin to understand patters; perhaps we are stuck in the past always thinking back, perhaps we are constantly distracted by the things around us or think about ourselves, our ego. When we notice our imbalances we know what to look out for and can begin to pull our mind back from being on that default setting. Slowly, slowly with practice we will find that we have the tools to recognize patterns and let them go, let the mind be quieter allowing our buddhi, to work with more clarity and intuity because there is not constant noise in our thinking mind.
IN PRACTICE: In your yoga practice try to be aware of what it is that distracts you. Is it chitta, thinking back to events in the past? Is it manas, being distracted by the things you see around you? Is it ahamkara, connecting yourself to your worries or thoughts? Is it a mixture of all three? Watch your patterns without judgment and then if possible try to let that thought go and bring your mind back to the present, concentrating on the sound of the breath or the sensations through the body. When you next feel these tendencies start to bubble up you might be able to avoid sitting in your thoughts for too long, taking a deep breath and coming back to the present, back to real life happening right here, right now..