“Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind.”***
so what does stilling the changing states of the mind really mean?! hey, ms. mind, shhh, be quiet! but how do we shush up that mind?
-control the senses, firmly.
-become equaninanomous (which is potentially not a real word – but practice equanimity)
-be without pain
-the stilling of all thought
“cessation of the permutations/activities of the citta”
citta?! what the heck is a citta? is that like a hamster? hmm, well maybe...
so the citta is basically the mind, but like the subtle mind. it's made up of three parts - buddhi, ahankara, and manas. and these parts are influenced by all kinds of things - like prakriti and purusa.
citta à prakriti/purusa, aka material nature and pure awareness/consciousness à buddhi (intelligence) – how we discriminate; ahankara ([false] ego) – how we indentify; manas (mind) – accepting and rejecting emotionally… the internal body.
citta is often used interchangeably with the word “mind” – but it does essentially encapsulate the three elements of buddhi, ahankara, and manas.
ok, but why can't the mind just be quiet all by itself? because of the vrittis...
vrittis: any activity of the mind – thoughts, ideas, mental imaging, cognitive act performed by any of the three elements of the citta.
“if citta is the sea, the vrittis are the waves.”
we must understand our separateness from the mind in order to understand the soul as the true self.
and with that there are all kinds of other influences, like the gunas, and sense objects, which make samskaras... and ermergerd it's enough to make my brain want to explode.
the commentary to this sutra - which is probably one of the most important sutras because it's essentially the definition of yoga - was SO complicated. I really just skimmed it. because, in the end, if I'm looking to give someone a basic definition of what yoga is beyond asana, I would never break it down into all of that. of course, I need to have a firm understanding of the citta and the vrittis and the gunas and why being sattvic is important and all that... but that's not what I would say to a new person! so where am I at this point in my summation?
there's no better time than now for practicing yoga. yoga is really about making peace with the mind so we can realize our true nature as the soul.
***(as translated by edwin bryant)