What actually goes inside our mind : Decoding the profound tendencies within us with the teachings of Sage Patanjali

Humans are wired to learn by wondering and observing. It’s immensely surprising how we can see the extraordinary in mundane or the mundane in extraordinary. What runs in us that contrasts this whole world? How do humans make miracles happen? Thankfully, with all the wonder fueled by uncontainable curiosity, I came to realize in rest that it’s simply how our mind is; that’s the beauty of being a human.                                         

The human mind continuously filters in and makes sense of whatever we see and feel through our five senses. While it does that, it keeps buzzing. Ever wondered what’s that buzzing, or the narrating, inside our head, is all about? It’s our mind, the very essence of what makes us human.  

It baffles me. Turns out that millenniums ago, the same thing baffled Sage Patanjali as well. And utilizing the human gift for wonder and curiosity, he funneled the baffle into continuous observation. This helped him to gradually decode and successfully note all that goes on inside our heads. Later, shared the insights he had during the learning process in his treatise on Yoga that lives to illuminate our mind. With the help of these books, I came to find that all buzzing and narrating that goes inside is actually our mind making sense of the world around us.

The mind makes sense of patterns. It was Sage Patanjali who discovered that our mind is born with the five tendencies that underlie our thoughts and tend to pattern or modulate them.  The phenomenal thing is that we too can decode all the tendencies that run inside the head. You may still wonder – Howww?  And, what is the point in understanding and seeing the mind running like it’s supposed to?  Let me answer; decoding them is how we can make our approaches more mindful.

We all like to know more about the truth. It is what motivates us to research for evidences, isn’t it? Our mind demands proof to discriminate the true from the untrue. How can we find those proofs and make a decision? Well, either by experiencing the truth directly through our five senses or by just inferring or assuming: just like we infer about fire when we see smoke.  We can also take and learn from scriptures or books where first-hand experiences are recollected. It sure keeps the mind agile and rational. But, when we are not seeking proof that backs up any statement we learn about, the mind tends to run on wrong information or wrong knowledge.

Wrong knowledge or opposite knowledge is when we cannot see things, people, and situation as they are. Stuck in this wrong information, our conscience is not clear and this eventually nurtures our ego as a guise of our universal wisdom; making us feel like others are responsible for our frustration, misery, and sadness, re-enacting and interfering with our memories, and linking our happiness only to things that back our inaccurate perceptions.

The mind tends to cook such wrong knowledge inside the head to make things look right for us give our faulty perspective even if it is not. It’s easy to fall for; however, practicing mindfulness lifts us all.

We also happen to fantasize a lot, don’t we? The mind tends to decorate the blank walls inside the head with juicy and colorful imaginations, like a child maneuvering the paintbrush in the walls of their home. Unlike a child, this maneuvering of mind has no contact with real things. Our mind tends to believe in unreal objects/things based on wildest of our imaginations. They are joyful and sometimes frightening too. Daydreaming, hallucinating are patterns inside the head as this tendency operates. Artists, writers, painters, inventors, we play with our imagination all the time. It is our innate capacity but unwholesome and overworked fantasies only sway us from the real.

When the mind does not want any proof, is not cooking wrong knowledge or fantasizing there is a fourth tendency of the mind: it does nothing. It tends to go to sleep.

 Sleep is our recharging and brain detox time. However, it is also a state that embraces the feeling of void or absence of mental content. The mind tends to sleep when it wants to avoid certain circumstances and its contents. After such sleep, we return to the same old situation where we feel unhappy. But when the sleep is done right, we wake up refreshed, happy, and enthusiastic. Such sleep is good for the memory too. After saying all of this, we got to know that sometimes the buzzing or flashing in our head are the memories which are also human mind’s tendencies.

The mind tends to retain both pleasant and unpleasant experiences as memories. The impressions and experiences that the mind could not let go of either build into cravings or aversions. We act and react to such memories and you know what happens? We keep stretching out the past and the future of our lives and that is why we are unable to see the expanse and feel the freshness of the present. As soon as we learn to rest in the present, the possibilities of expansion magnify. Life unfurls and consciousness grows. Knowledge and clarity grow along with it.  We then naturally begin to see life as so vibrant, giving, and extraordinary!

All and in the combination of two or three continuously runs inside our head creating scenes and it is what sways us from the seer within. Sage Patanjali is the seer and the buzz he decoded are all scenes played by our mind distracting us from the present. Truthfully, knowing about the scenes created by our mind’s tendencies and gradually being aware of them is what keeps us distanced from the entanglement and unskillful actions: actions disadvantageous to our life.

Now we know, Mind is born with these five tendencies and we got to learn to live with it. However, skillfully we can turn it to our advantages and avert disadvantages.

We find ourselves gaining advantages as we begin to run enthusiastically for the truth, for the right information and knowledge, reality instead of fantasy, living in the present instead of the past memories or the future daydreams, relying on restfulness instead of sleep. If you are still wondering Howww? Thankfully turn to Sage Patanjali’s work on “Yoga for illumination”.

-Pratik Baral