My perspectives on Patanjali Yogsutra, article 9: Memories as distraction and how to sort them for productive purpose through yogic practices.

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In our series of articles on Patanjali YogSutras, we are studying the vruttis (modifications) of our Buddhi (mind) as told by Sage Patanjali.

So far, we have seen four modifications in detail, namely- प्रमाण (pramana), विपर्यय (viparyaya), विकल्प (vikalpa) and निद्रा (nidra).

In his next verse, sage Patanjali talks about स्मृति i.e., memory as next and the last modification of our buddhi (mind) which poses as a distraction in the journey of an aspirant towards one’s ultimate goal of Yogic salvation.

He quotes,

अनुभूतविषयासंप्रमोषः स्मृतिः॥११॥

Anubhuta Visayasampramosah Smrtih

Translation: Memory is the recollection of experienced objects. When a mental modification of an object previously experienced and not forgotten comes back to consciousness, that is memory.

Our mind stores impressions, actions, previously attained. These thoughts and impressions form our underlying character exist in inactive state and do not affect our conscious actions. But these subconsciously shape our perceptions and beliefs, or at times enter the active state in the form of memories.

Due to memories, we fail to stay in present. This not only affects the meditation phase or yoga process but affects in practical day to day life.

Remember the times when you are sitting quietly trying to relax or working on something when some memory pops comes up in your mind. You can’t even figure out why it intervened in your thoughts. This memory poses as an interruption in our ongoing process of relaxing or in working.

Insomnia, the problem with sleeping that many people face is also deeply and directly connected to memories. The mind keeps running haywire in clusters and chains of memories creating a chain of thoughts and disrupting the process of sleeping further hindering the process of recreation process.

Not to forget the fact that, these memories affect our emotional fabric making us feel sad, angry or at times embarrassed.

Consider an example of your Computer. What would happen if it randomly pulls up items from its memory regardless of their relevance to the current task. It crashes your game, slows down your work, and generally frustrates you. Same thing for human memory.

Even in context of relationships, memories play a very tricky role. Our past memories out of direct experience or perception in regard to a person affects our present behavior and perceptions with the person. This hinders the natural flow of relations or even at times hinders the process of patching up in some sour equation.

On the contrary, memory is an important component in the intellectual learning process. Memory helps us remember facts, content and grow in intellectual aspect. Memory is very important in up-gradation of skills by learning new things for the modern world scenario.

Then, the question that arises is, how do you distinguish between the unwanted and wanted memories? This is where Yogic practices like Asana, Pranayama, Dharana and Dhyaan play an important role. These practices are like the refiners which help us sort out our memories, stay in present and use memory only for productive purpose.

In our next articles, we will study about how to conquer these distractions for greater success in practical life and Yog journey.

For any queries regarding Yogsutras and to know more about the above said refinement process, get in touch with me at sahna@pravaahwellness.com.

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