Year : 2021 | Volume
: 53 | Issue : 1 | Page : 1--3
Calming the mind through yoga amid the COVID pandemic
Ranjeet Singh Bhogal
Scientific Research Department, Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla, Maharashtra, India
Ranjeet Singh Bhogal
Scientific Research Department, Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla, Maharashtra
|How to cite this article:|
Bhogal RS. Calming the mind through yoga amid the COVID pandemic.Yoga Mimamsa 2021;53:1-3
|How to cite this URL:|
Bhogal RS. Calming the mind through yoga amid the COVID pandemic. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Sep 19 ];53:1-3
Available from: https://www.ym-kdham.in/text.asp?2021/53/1/1/322050
Yoga Vasishtha defines Yoga as, ”Manoprashamanopayah yogoityabhidhiyate”: “The means of calming down the mind is known as Yoga.” Mind, remains perhaps the most enigmatic phenomenon-unfathomable, perennially edgy, uniquely elusive, least researched and understood, and yet most relevant.
Cartesian theory says that volitional acts of the body are the cause of the volitional acts of the mind. This mind–body dualism of Rene Descartes has been summarily rejected by Ryle (1949), who thought that there may not necessarily be any reasoning and complex intellectual operations involved behind a skillful act. Ryle further asserts that the working of the mind may be better conceptualized as the action of the body which might pertain to propensities and dispositions. The Citta concept of yoga fits well with the Rylean concept of the Mind (BG: II: 62, 63). Citta is considered as a store house of all Samskaras, i.e., enduring deep-rooted impressions which are known to moderate our thoughts, actions, and behavioral patterns that, in turn, have implications for our future well-being. Thus, both Rylean and Yogic views advocate moderating the dynamics of mind, toward human wellness and well-being.
Kathopanishad conceives the human body as a chariot with its five horses likened to the five senses; the reign tied to the horses as mind, as well as, the operator of the chariot as buddhi (intellect) and the owner of the chariot as the Atman (soul). Thus, the mind is considered as the medium for operating all human activities. If calmed down and controlled adequately, the mind can become a good medium for Buddhi to control and employ the senses toward accomplishing a task successfully. Thus, even though the mind is considered perennially disturbed entity, yet it is the mind only through which a task can be executed, including the practice of Yoga. All yoga practices, including mantras, would strengthen the Buddhi with Sattva guna. Empowered with Sattva guna the Buddhi becomes stable and starts taking proper decisions. By virtue of getting enriched with Sattva guna, the Buddhi establishes a perfect liaison with the Atman, the transcendental Self. Thus, we are said to be dictated by the “divine wish” and, in the process, achieve Samadhi, the perfect psycho-physiologically balanced state, as per yogic metaphysics.
As per Patanjala Yoga Sutra (I: 14) while ABHYASA (long-term, continual practice with a steadfast conviction and application) leads to psycho-physiological Comprehensive Awareness, the VAIRAGYA (i.e., nonattachment mode of our attitudinal pattern) contributes to the Alinga, the indefinably subtler Neutral State of Attention (P.Y.S.1: 45), during one's yogic pursuit that culminates into Ritambhara Prajna, the Absolute Consciousness (P.Y.S. I: 48), which leads one into the state of supreme Samadhi (P.Y.S. I: 51). Therefore, any yogic pursuit with ABHYASA and VAIRAGYA results into calming the mind, through an ideal Citta-Prana interaction that gets ensued, in the process. This makes us transcend all existential inadequacies, unpredictable events and anxiety evoking situations as our mind calms down, being bereft of troubling Samskars and attenuated Klesha. Significantly enough, the calm mind becomes a fit instrument of Buddhi, toward its proper decision-making and problem-solving endeavors.
As per Kathopanishad (I: 4: 2), our journey of transcending the worldly miseries should start from Cidakasha. Meditation techniques, based on this premise, would enrich us in accessing the ecstatic state of Prasada at Will, even during these trying times, in our professional and family lives. Frequent experience of Absolute Joy, experienced from traditional Dhyana techniques, would cleanse our Samskars (enduring psycho-physiological impressions), freeing us from many a complex an easy way, coupled with an enhanced general awareness and perceptual clarity.
It has also been hypothesized (Rajapurkar, 2003) that regular yoga and meditation may liberate in the cerebrospinal fluid some neurotransmitter, endorphin or an opioid, which, if lighter than cerebrospinal fluid, will travel upward along the central canal of the spinal cord and reach the lateral ventricles of the brain. These chemicals on reaching the thalamus and hypothalamus may produce “extra sensory perception” leading to Ananda or Bliss.
Experiential mode of yoga practice is the best bet for achieving a calmer state of mind, the most essential prerequisite to achieve equipoise amidst worst of calamities, as the calmer state of mind invariably moves towards the transcendence, whereby one can experience Prasada, the Absolute Joy that handles all miseries most easy ways (B.G. II: 65 and VI: 21). Various easy practices of Breathing Awareness, Pratyahara, Samapatti and Dharana, available in yogic texts are equipped to endow us with experiential phenomena toward this end. Shodas Adharas, Lakshya Traya and Pancha vidha Akasha Dharana mentioned in Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati, as well as many a pranayamic practices from Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, designed to make us amenable to Neutral State of Attention that invariably leads one into the Absolute Joy and the yogic equipoise. Government organizations and nongovernmental organizations should come together in evolving easy practices for the public usage. One of such easy practices is a mode of Kriya Yoga of Kaivalyadhama tradition, having a base in Manusmriti (II: 83) and Patanjala Yoga Sutra (II: 2).
As per yoga, our nervous system encompasses three types of powers namely Iccha Shakti, Jnana Shakti, and Kriya Shakti, inherent in all human beings. Experiential phenomenon includes two of these powers, namely Jnana Shakti and Kriya Shakti. The former includes various inputs from sensory organs reaching the sensory cortex and related areas of the brain and thereby lead to the awareness that “I am getting knowledge and experience” and “I am the knower” (Jnata or Bhokta). Neutral State of Attention, expected in yoga, would endow us with a comprehensive awareness. Thus, experiential inputs are inevitably integral part of yoga practices. Kriya Shakti includes feedback from various organs helping one to infer that there are certain happenings without one's doing and thus helping one to develop the awareness that “I am the observer” (i.e., Drashta) or inferer (i.e., Anumanta) of happenings (i.e., Kriya) taking place inside the body involuntarily (Bhole, 1989). Tantra Yuktis, an ancient Indian science of discovering and evolving spiritual practices should also be researched extensively toward finding remedies for the disturbed state of the human mind today.
Dr. Shirley Telles (2020) has advocated all systems approach for yoga therapy as a life style intervention. Humanity is at the crossroad today with its unpredictable future writ large before us. Swami Kuvalayananda's approach may be savior in the current times when we have to view all spiritual and traditional practices in the scientific perspectives, almost the same way as Swami Ji had done so, for the traditional yoga. Modern sciences of Psycho-cybernetics, Bio-cybernetics and Transpersonal Psychology, on one hand, and the ancient wisdom encompassing Ayurvedic Naishthiki Cikitsa, Devya vyapashraya and the traditional medicines such as Tai-chi and Shamanism, on the other hand, should be brought together for helping the modern man in achieving and maintaining the elusive calmness of the Mind.
The articles, selected in this issue, have relevance to managing the mind and its functions toward achieving a state of psychophysiological balance that inherently has all the possibilities of human potentials getting unfolded, existentially.
Drs. Narottam Kumar and Udham Singh, in their review article, “Yoga for improving Mood and Cognitive functions” highlights the effect of yoga practices on improving mood and cognition. Authors propose various yogic practices, as therapy, initially improve mood leading to better cognitive functions. Authors emphasize further, rightly, the need for an earnest approach to many more research inquiries into yogic effects on mood states and cognitive functions.
The experimental article, “Impact of Sanskrit Prosody on Anxiety, Mindfulness, and Self-Concept in Young Adolescents: A four-armed control trial” by Drs. Mollika Ganguly, Sriloy Mohanty, Sampadananda Mishra, Sanjib Patra, and Monika Jha, has discovered humming of Sanskrit prosody resulting in an overall reduction in the anxiety levels when compared to the remaining three groups. There was a decrease in the anxiety levels in chanting group as well. Interestingly, there was a significant increase in the mindfulness scores in humming, as well as, in chanting groups.
“Effect of yogic intervention on quality of life in university girls with cyclical mastalgia” by Drs. Garima Jaiswal and G. S. Thakur found that following a 60 days of yogic intervention, in yoga group, there was a significant amelioration in Mastalgia. Psychological health also showed a significant effect following 1 month of follow-up (p > 0.05), signifying a great promise of yoga therapy in cyclical mastalgia.
In their study “Yoga and naturopathy-based lifestyle during quarantine for the prevention of COVID-19: a pilot cohort study” Drs. A. Mooventhan, Kahlil Subramanian and N Manavalan have extended a promise of Yoga and Naturopathy based lifestyle as an antidote to the pandemic condition. The reasoning, forwarded by authors, behind the utility of yogic and naturopathic interventions, is worthy of consideration.
Dr. Hitesh Sheth, in his conceptual article, “Bhagvad Gita, Gut Microbiota and Mental Health” extensively reviews modern and ancient literature, highlighting the relationship of dietary considerations with human body, mind, behavior, and personality. He further proposes that though Gut Microbiota, residing in a human body, influences its physical and mental health, their diversity can be influenced by human dietary patterns. He concludes dietary modification, along with necessary medicines, may be recommended for the management of various physical and mental disorders.
“The ideal yogi: A man without qualities” by Dr. Tommaso Bianchi is an in-depth philosophical exposition of the native nature of man and what he can become ultimately, in the existential sense of the term. Western and Indian approaches to the conception of an ideal man have been dealt with extensively, before presenting the conception of The Ideal Yogi as the one without qualities, on the bases of Vedanta and various schools of yoga that show a remarkable unity of approach to the same end.
Lokesh Choudhary, Upendra Babu Khatri and Nandlal Mishra, in their article, “Concept of Ānanda in Śrīmad Bhāgavad Gītā,” have enunciated the concept of Ananda in Bhagwat Gita and other Upanishads, as one of the most relevant and distinctly significant features of yoga, from different perspectives along with its application in day today life. Transcending senses and achieving mental equanimity through desire-less stance and steadfast devotion are some of the sure ways, mentioned by the authors, toward imbibing the state of Ananda within.
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