Remember dating and just hanging out together chilling? In the silence between us inevitably, my thoughts would start pouncing like a kitten chasing its tail. Simply to stop my mind’s madness, I’d ask my boyfriend what he was thinking about. [...Pause...] Then he’d say, “Nothing, really.” Wow – I’m in disbelief – that must be nice.
But wait a second. How can that be? I don’t ever think of “nothing.” Has he mastered the art of meditation? Or is he withholding information? Or is he simply not aware that the average person has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day?
So how does one with a monkey mind like mine find the mental rest button?
Enter the yoga teachings of the ancient sage Patanjali.
Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah.
Yoga is the stilling of the turbulences of the mind, he says in the second of about 200 short phrases known as the Yoga Sutras collected between 5,000BC and 300AD by Sri Patanjali. Not much is known about him – not where he lived nor whether he was a person or a pseudonym used by many. But his collection of aphorisms guides yoga practitioners around the world.
To me, Yogas citta vritti norodhah is the most important of the sutras. The rest just explain the problems you will encounter and solutions you can use find that blissful state of silence.
My yoga practice creates a stillness for me in which I realize how much noise my mind creates. I have to set an intention to focus on my breath to stop the inner monologue. And re-focus. And re-focus. And focus.