Maharishi Patanjali –the Father of Yoga– said in his Yoga Sutras that the objective of Yoga is “Chitta Vritti Nirodha,” which means the removal of the patterns of consciousness and that one can experience pure awareness.
However, it was not Patanjali, who delivered the wisdom of yoga to human kind. It is believed that the wisdom of yoga was actually “given” by the first Yogi –Sri Dakshinamurty– to the Saptarishis –the seven great sages– in the Himalayas or in the Arunachala Mountain, long before Patanjali. However, during Patanjali’s time, there was already a huge number of yoga schools operating across the world, each teaching a different style and type of yoga. That’s why he brought all these schools into harmony with the Yoga Sutras. They not only gave a direction to all the different yoga teachings and practices, but it also became an eternal text on yoga that remains relevant to this day.
Basic concepts of Gyana yoga
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Yoga sutras brought the Gyana element in yoga (or Jnana), which is the element that helps you to deepen the practice and have a better understanding. Gyana can harmonize your practice of yoga and bring the aspect of non-attachment to it.
These are the basic concepts of Gyana Yoga:
- Pure awareness. It is the main objective of yoga; to be fully present.
- Beyond body, mind and breath. While many different forms of yoga practices give some benefits to our body, mind and breath, it is Gyana Yoga that goes beyond. It brings awareness in every stage of the human existence; starting from the individual soul, which is considered as pure awareness, to the intellect, mind, breath and body.
- Yoga in your daily life. Gyana Yoga is not limited to practicing on the mat. It is the process of bringing the yoga philosophy to our daily life. This is the longest and richest form of yoga practice.
- The ultimate tool of liberation. Practicing Yoga 24/7 requires a different kind of orientation towards pure awareness. Gyana Yoga decreases the automatic patterns of consciousness and its latent impressions, bringing complete awareness to our daily life. This is the reason why Gyana Yoga is the essence of all yoga practice and it’s considered as the ultimate tool of liberation; a liberation from the condition of nature and its limitations.
- Infinite possibilities. Once you’ve broken the conditions of nature and the patterns of consciousness. The inner science of Gyana Yoga brings infinite possibilities setting you free from the conditions you have accumulated in this life and the ones you have brought from other lives.
Gyana Yoga as a tool for mindfulness and concentration
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At the same time, in a very mental level, Gyana Yoga increases mindfulness and concentration. Concentration is practiced towards an external object, while in mindfulness the object of concentration is the mind itself. When you shift the object of concentration from the outside to the inside, you instantly change the whole equation.
Gyana Yoga in its essence removes all distractions from our mind. It creates a continuity of thought and gives a direction to our perception. It acts as a compass that guides us in the ocean of consciousness. This continuity of thought is called “concentration” when it goes outward and “mindfulness” when going inward. These two remain the secret of health, wellness and happiness.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Once we achieve mindfulness, the mind moves into the present moment and it becomes so engaged that all distractive thoughts move away. Daydreaming is gone and the future is no longer there. With the mind so focused, there is a consistency that comes to the mind, where the continuity between arising and subsiding perception becomes intact. The senses refine and even one who is fully immersed in an activity that generates lots of tension and stress, can remain happy and relaxed.
Focus and Distraction
Gyana Yoga helps to understand the key difference between focus and distraction. Focus is a more consistent thought pattern, whereas distraction and forgetfulness, and even unmindfulness are a more inconsistent thought pattern, where there is no continuity in our minds.
When there is no continuity, there will be no discipline of consciousness. When there is no discipline of consciousness, there will be no discipline of sense activity. Uncontrolled sense activity will lead senses to move in a haphazard way, which will also lead the senses to move towards fleeting objects, and when the mind starts moving towards the objects of fleeting nature, it cannot hold its consistency of concentration, creating distractions. With a distracted mind, one will not be able to see the world as it is and get deluded.
The Problem of Unmindfulness
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By seeing two things with awareness and mindfulness, one will perceive a rope as a rope and a snake as a snake. However, when one losses the pure seeing, one can see the rope as a snake, and get terrified mentally and create inner suffering. On the other hand, one can see the snake as a rope and instigate the snake to attack, which will lead to external suffering. In both cases, if one cannot see the world (both inner and outer) as it is, it leads to suffering.
The snake is never the problem; neither the rope is the problem, or the source of the problem. The problem is, we are not mindful. And as we are not mindful, we see the snake as a rope and the rope as a snake.
Gyana Yoga for a healthier, happier life
Distracted thoughts seem to be the default state of mind of today’s lifestyle. A distracted mind creates unstable breathing where the breaths are not spacious and subtle, but disturbed and gross. An unconscious breathing is the root of unstable emotions. Healthy people have a focused mind, a stable breathing pattern and balanced emotions, which helps them to release hormones from endocrine glands, creating general well-being in the body.
Initially, the effects of Gyana Yoga are temporary, and they last up to a certain amount of time after the practice. But with persistent practice, the benefits will remain and the thoughts that distract the mind disappear, resulting in a new tranquil lifestyle generated from the practice of Gyana Yoga.
Slowly and gently, all life becomes yoga. Gyana becomes the way of living, the way of thinking, the way of socializing. That is the deeper impact of Gyana yoga, as a Gyani (a practitioner of Gyana Yoga) transforms his consciousness and evolves from outward to inward, from worldly to divinely.
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