Yoga Psychology for Personal Transformation


The objective of yoga psychology is not just to stabilize the mind, but to perfect it.

“Yoga psychology deals with the transformation and stabilization of the mind, not as an end in itself, but as means to attain a higher state of consciousness beyond the mind where the purusa, or soul, imbibes in its own pure nature.”

To attain that state, however, the support of the mind is necessary. The mind is called antar-karanam, the internal instrument. Like all instruments, the mind requires tuning or sharpening to function best. To succeed in spiritual life, one must therefore gradually mold the mind to higher forms of cognition.

In terms of transforming the mind, we have already discussed the importance of properly structuring our environment and adhering to moral actions within our day to day lives. To achieve optimum transformation and ultimate transcendence, however, it is of utmost importance to reserve a time and place to exclusively engage with the mind for the purpose of transforming it. Such a prescribed exercise is called sadhana, or spiritual practice. The foundation of sadhana is meditation.

To understand how meditation transforms the mind, one first has to understand its goal — to bring the mind to its pure state. This state can be compared to the original condition of a perfectly tuned instrument where its maximum potential is realized. The mind thus functions best in sattva, the most wholesome state of matter. In other words, in sattva the discriminating ability of the mind is sharpened to the degree where the soul can perfectly distinguish itself from its encasement, the mind and body. In terms of this ability to foster true perception, this optimum state can also be compared to a properly formed and thoroughly cleansed lens.

Spiritual practice is thus the process of cleansing the mirror of the mind of its distortions, called vrttis or thoughts, especially those born of passion and ignorance, which like a distorted lens skew the soul’s vision. Meditation accomplishes this by the practice of undeviating concentration on a single object of focus. By such focus for an uninterrupted and prolonged time, all other fluctuations of the mind, which distort the natural lucidity of sattva, are neglected and thus quelled, especially when that practice is accompanied by vairagya, a rigorous cultivation of dispassion towards those impulses.

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  1. You state, “To succeed in spiritual life, one must therefore gradually mold the mind to higher forms of cognition.” Does this not then make yoga a religion?

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