Knowing Your Own Mind – And Possibly Others
I know I am a bit late in writing about our last Yoga Sutra Study group and the upcoming Sutras for discussion on Aug 29th at 11:00am, but I hope that you can join us again for these great discussions on consciousness, integration, and the resulting “naturally super” powers of yoga!
Due to everyone’s busy summer schedules, our last discussion was a cozy and intimate conversation about the transformations of consciousness and the subsequent changes in our “matter” and Nature – and visa versa. As we know, yoga works on many layers and elements of our whole being, and consciousness permeates every layer. As we become more sensitive to these changes and transformations, we can gain knowledge of our Self and the world around us at deeper and deeper levels…first from the gross physical body, then through the senses, then through to the mind, then to the purity of consciousness itself. This knowledge gained through the layers of yoga allows us to wield “power” over our own embodiment and therefore begin to understand the embodiments of other beings and other aspects of the Universe, as we are all made up of the same “stuff” when it comes right down to it.
“Clarity” in yoga is an uninterrupted, clear consciousness free of individual impressions and hinderances. If those impressions are let go of, ALL knowledge is at our fingertips. What we do with that knowledge is really the bigger question, and where Patanjali himself warns over and over again of the quick and easy downfall of any practitioner who gets carried away with such “power”.
The next many sutras in the Third Chapter of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali start to highlight these “powers” that may be experienced. Our next sutras for discussion are the following: (translations used for this blog are from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanajali by BKS Iyengar)
III.17 – Words, objects and ideas are superimposed, creating confusion; by samyama (integration), one gains knowledge of the language of all beings.
III.18 – Through direct perception of his subliminal impressions, the yogi gains knowledge of his previous lives.
III.19 – He/She acquires the ability to understand the minds of others.
III.20 – A yogi who is able to read the minds of others in general, can also, if necessary, precisely identify specific contents which are beyond the reach of the mind.
Yes, the “powers” start out with a bit of a bang! And as I mentioned before, for many they sound crazy and impossible – that’s what I thought at first glance. However, with extrapolation, exploration, and experience I have started to see the possibilities of what Patanjali describes. IF we know our own Self and mind so completely that the connection of consciousness and matter is fully integrated, we understand our body language, our expressions, our tones, and our actions whether we are sad, angry, happy, excited, etc…We can “see” where we have been, where we are, and could predict where we are going by paying clear and unobstructed attention. If we get to know the movements and tendencies of our OWN mind, and also assume that we are all of the same matter and all of the same Universe, then the knowledge of other’s minds may not be such a big leap. Other animals are also “beings” of the same “stuff” and consciousness, so other languages (spoken or otherwise) could cease to be an obstacle.
Whether it is just knowing someone well enough that you might be able to finish their sentences, or knowing twins who have a deeper connection of mind and consciousness due to their shared DNA, or simply being able to “read” your dog or cat’s body language in order to help them or train them…all of those are an example of surface level integrated consciousness. Peel away to the deeper layers of those experiences, and who knows what could be possible!
- Can you identify and feel distinct physical sensations that come with a thought or memory. If so, can you identify the transformation of your feelings by changing your thought? Same with certain asanas that bring about different mind-sets?
- Have you had the experience of words getting in the way of how you really feel? Or finding difficulty in explaining to someone else how you feel? What state of mind would be needed to clearly identify and speak aloud your true experience?
- Can you identify where your past is in your present and how your present might feed your future? What does a “fresh mind” and a “fresh approach” mean to you in practice?
- Has yoga brought you any more clarity on how your own mind works? If so, has knowing how your own mind works brought you any compassion or understanding for others in their experiences?