Insights from the Yoga Sutras

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is considered the classical text on yoga. In this sacred text, Patanjali defines yoga as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind field. In simple terms, we might say that yoga is training the mind to stay in one place instead of bouncing all over. The results of this training, Patanjali tells us is a resting in our essential nature instead of in the bouncing.

The key is a “reprogramming” of the mind. This is accomplished, Patanjali further tells us, by two things, practice and non-attachment. In other words, we practice something new, something more steady. And we simply begin to let go of our involvement with all the bouncing and scatteredness.

Our tendency is to fight with, try to change, or berate ourselves for our thoughts and their content. But this only strengthens the discord and scatteredness within us. Spend your time, Patanjali says, focusing on the “new” program, a mind that stays centered and calm on a higher purpose, such as loving kindness towards all things. This is the practice. And Patanjali assures us that it will bring us the freedom we seek.

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