Practice with Jani Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 6

Dimensions of the Mind

30 min - Talk


The mind connects us back to Self and is one of the most important tools in yoga. Jani shares are talk on the anatomy of the mind, unpacking its functions and subtle dimensions.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Sep 26, 2018
(Log In to track)
(No Desires)


Read Full Transcript

(waves gently lapping) Hi, everyone, I was thinking to talk little bit about mind, and the functions of the mind. So at the end, yoga is done with the mind. So mind is that tool that is reconnecting us back to the self. So that's why mind is, one's mind is most important, important tool to understand yoga. We cannot really define the mind through how it looks like, like a hand.

If you have hand, you can describe the hand, like it has five fingers and so on, but you cannot really describe the mind because mind doesn't have any particular form. Because mind takes the form where it's absorbing. So if you think about the red ball, then the mind takes the form of the red ball. And if you think about the blue square, then the mind takes the form of that blue square. But we can understand the mind through its functions.

So let's go to a few functions of the mind. First one is vicara. Vicara says there's three vicaras, one is the thinking. So when I'm thinking something, that's the mind. And then when I have some feelings, I feel happy or sad or excited or something like that, that's also a function of the mind.

So feeling, thinking and feeling. And then last is the desire, willing. If I want something, I want a new iPhone or I want ice cream or something. So that's the function of the mind. And this thinking is the weakest.

So thinking is the weakest function of the mind. And then next one is feeling and then it turns to be desire. So example let's say I think about smoking cigarettes. If I repeat, if I let this talk loop in my mind at one point it probably start to transform as a feeling. I start to actually feel like doing it.

My hand starts to sweat or something and I start to have this kind of craving, feeling to do that. And then if I just experience, let this feeling of smoking cigarettes loop into my mind, then it becomes a desire. I start to do some arrangement, actually, to do the action. So we can use this also when we do that. When we try to get rid of the bad habits or we want to build new habits, we just try to understand if you want to build new habits so that we try to get the thinking, the feeling level.

And then from the feeling we go to the desire level. And when we try to break the habit, one nice way if you understand this sequence of these vicaras, that when the thought comes in then we try to divert the mind somewhere else. If I can believe I want to stop smoking cigarettes, I don't smoke cigarettes as far as I remember. First when the thought comes in then I can divert it. But if it starts to be on the feeling level, it's more difficult.

I already feel like doing it. And when we are on the desire level, then it starts to be very difficult because I already make the decision that I'm gonna do it now. So then it's more difficult to turn back anymore. So these are three vicaras of the mind, thinking, feeling and willing. And then other function of the mind is visaya samaniya.

So samaniya means that mind can be objective so that I can actually, objective way, just observe things without making any labeling things, without labeling things so that mind is kind of open all opens and I can be objective. I can look at the things with objective mind. That's one function of the mind, so that I don't really take part, I don't really take part with my mind, I just observe. So that's called samaniya. And visaya is that I'm subjective which means that I'm actually particular, that I can focus my mind to something like denying or rejecting the other options.

It's now I'm getting involved. I'm mentally getting involved. Objective way to see things is that I don't really take part, I just see what is going on. And then that's samaniya visaya is that I choose something and then mind becomes more subjective. Because senses, senses they originate from the mind.

Senses originally they come from the mind, so all the sense, my sense perceptions they also have these visaya and samaniya qualities. So example, take the eyes. You can look at the room, you look at the room and then you just objectively try to see it as it is without really, you just try to see the big picture. That's samaniya. And visaya is that you focus on some certain objective.

Example you can try to see that ocean behind there. So you focus on some certain thing, so that's visaya. And samaniya is that you see the whole picture. So these are two functions of the mind, and then mind is also accepting and rejecting. Mind is doing it all the time, you understand?

Otherwise you can say that there wouldn't be any life. Now I accept to staying here and I will take the option walking out. So the mind is doing this kind of decisions all the time. Consciously or unconsciously, we are accepting and rejecting. The mind is putting labels to everything.

That's not through a function of the mind. We shouldn't try to retake this because you cannot really, if you reject this, you are still rejecting. So there's my accepting and rejecting things is natural functions of the mind. But yogi use this accepting these natural function of the mind, accepting things that are beneficial for yoga and rejecting things that are not beneficial for yoga. So this is a very practical tool for yoga, to understand how this accepting and rejecting is happening.

Okay, and mind is all this. One thing we cannot be not attached. Mind is always attached to something. That's the thing. I cannot really detach mind from everything.

If I try to be thinking nothing, I'm still thinking something. I'm thinking that concept of nothingness. So mind is always focused on something. By the way, when we are on the condition state, mind is focused on the matter property. So mind is focused on matter.

But the other thing where we can focus the mind is on the spirit. So that's when we become like yogis. We are practicing yoga when we try to understand what is the difference between the matter and spirit. And then this matter on mind, we try to focus that on the spirit. Then we can say that mind doesn't have any object because the object is spiritual, it's not material.

Then we way that mind becomes free, when it's focused on the spirit. It never really touches the spirit because it's the matter, mind is matter and spirit, self, the soul is the spirit. So they are kind of two categories of energy and the spirit is more shallow than the matter, and the mind, because the mind is more gross it cannot be focused on something that is more shallow than itself. But what happens is that when we get, mind get purified, it reflects the light of the soul. It reflects the light of the consciousness.

And then we can see the consciousness, it becomes like transparent. And then ultimately the mind, the mind, it actually reflects. It's the distant reflection of the consciousness, citta. Consciousness is the energy of the self. So consciousness is the energy of the self.

Sometimes it describes, like if you have like a sun and shine. They are qualitatively one because they are both giving the light and heat. But they are quantitatively different, so the sun is actually the object, cause, and then the shine is the effect. So same way the self is actually the cause and consciousness is kind of effect of the self. What are the quality of the self?

You cannot really separate these two. If you look at water and wetness. Water is actually the substance but wetness is the quality of the water which you cannot separate from the water. So in one sense they are one and the same and one sense they are a little bit different, they are cause and effect. So when the matter, when the consciousness heats the matter it becomes transformed as a mind.

So when the consciousness heats the matter, it reflects on the mind, it's the material mind. So material mind is kind of distance extension of that original consciousness. So in one sense you can say that consciousness is the original mind. That's the ultimate mind. And mind is one, so we can basically, mind can do one function at a time.

If you remember at the beginning I was mentioning about these three vicaras, thinking, feeling and willing. So they are different functions of the same mind. So I can think something, at the same time I can feel something different. So that's possible. But still mind is, I cannot think two, I cannot put two things at the same time on the thinking field without having two minds.

So let's do one short exercise. So let's think about first a red ball. Try to see the red ball in your mind. And then wave it away. And then see the blue square.

In your mind, try to see the blue square. And then wipe the blue square away. And now try to think about red ball and blue square at the same time, not so that they are kind of on the same picture or they are somehow overlapping each other. But can you do it so that you think it at the same time. It's impossible unless you have two minds.

So you cannot really do it unless you see it as the same picture. But you cannot put the two thoughts at the same time. You can change it, you can change fast, red ball, blue square. You can change it fast and then you'll feel like that you can think two things. So the mind is one.

If we think something, we cannot think something else at the same time but we can flip between the thoughts so that we feel like there's many things in my mind. But I'm just changing the focus, because focus is, one's mind cannot be distracted. It's always focused on something. But problem is that it's changing its focus, it's fluctuating like buttons and speak about chitta vritti nirodha. The mind is actually fluctuating.

It's moving from one thing to the other fast. And then we think that mind, then we can say that mind is like distracted. But it's never really distracted. It's always anchored on something. So in one sense you can say the mind is always focused.

So for example when we learn, when we practice yoga, when we learn yoga, we can use these three vicaras: thinking, feeling and willing, to understand how we can be more effective in learning things. So let's do one more exercise. I'll just try to illustrate this thing. Take your right hand and then write word "right" in the air. R-I-G-H and T.

Okay that's easy. And then take the left hand and write word "left". L-E-F and T. Okay, now most probably you haven't practiced this before, like you don't have this kind of regular practice that you are writing words in the air. Maybe some people have, but I don't know.

But show things are on the thinking level. Now things are on the thinking level which means that if you try to write both at the same time with the right hand you write the word right and left hand left. Same time without, it's easy if you do the one and then you do R and then you do L. But if you try to do it same time you can see that it's almost impossible because things are on the thinking level. But let's say if you have six months every morning 10 minutes you practice with your right hand the word right, and then it becomes sinks in the feeling level and you don't need to think about it when you do it.

And then you focus on the left hand. So when we learn things, it might be a good idea that I first practice one thing so that it goes to the feeling level, and then I take the next thing instead of putting 10 million things on the thinking level, same time. Then I think that I'm doing many things but I actually end up doing nothing. So we can use this also as a tool when we do the yoga practice. So in a broader sense, we can see the mind that also that whole subtle body, sukshma sharira, is mind.

And subtle body is three parts, manas, buddhi and ahankara. Once we can see that they say also that these three constituted the mind. Manas we already went to like thinking, feeling, willing, visaya and samaniya and so on. And then we have the buddhi. Buddhi is the faculty of the discrimination, a reason and logic.

So let's say we have our manas, let's say we have first we have the sense perception. You see something and then that reflects to your mind field. Only when it reflects to your mind field then you really see. You can see with the eyes without seeing. For every one of us we have this kind of experience.

Example if you drive a car and then you speak in the mobile phone, then you're maybe so focused on speaking on the mobile phone so that you don't see, you are seeing, you are looking with your eyes the road but you are not seeing. And then the accident can come in. So it's only when the sense perception is registered on the mind field then we can see things. And after that, okay, mind can do some, mind can accept and retake what I'm seeing. I either like it or I don't like what I'm seeing.

And then the information goes to the buddhi which is the intellect which is the, when the buddhi I can use reason and logic to categorize the stuff that are presented for the mind. So with the buddhi I can learn from my past experiences because smriti, memory, is the part of the mind. I experience something that leaves imprint into my mind. And then I can bring this imprint back to the surface. So I have memory.

Now I have memory. And then when I have buddhi, I have intellect which is I can direct the mind. So example if I put hand on the hot stove and I burn the hand, okay? I get the memory from that. It's painful.

And then later next time I have the same idea that let's put on the hot stove. Now my intellect, because of this memory, my intellect can make a logical conclusion that that's not a good idea because then you hurt hand, don't do it. So this is the function of the intellect. They say that intellect is kind of guiding the mind. You can say that intellect is like a big brother or a big sister to the mind.

It's guiding the mind in a certain direction because mind is kind of pliant, you know? Sometimes mind is just accepting because of our conditions, we are accepting or rejecting things without, sometimes there's no really any good reason why we are doing it. You see something you don't like. Let's say I meet some person. I don't know the person.

But my mind labels it, I don't like this person. But how can I know because I don't even know the person? So sometimes the mind is blind, the mind is just doing things. But if my buddhi, my intellect is strong they know I can always get over these impulses of the mind. And then we have ahankara.

Ahankara is, aha means I and kara means maker. So that's also one function of the subtle body that my, in one sense I'm creating my self. I'm creating my self because I can, a certain extent I can choose what I like on certain extent, what I like, what I don't like. So we are kind of creating this kind of false ego, material ego which is based on temporary definitions. Example, I may be knowing that I'm the person who like the certain kind of music, I like the certain colors, I like the certain kind of food.

I can choose what kind of people I'm hanging around. So these are kind of all part of the ahankara. I can choose things. And then I create myself. I create my psychology on one level.

But on the other way also our environment is defining our ego. When I go to the office, I have to behave, I'm not actually going to the office because I don't have any office. Anyway, let's use this example. You go to your office, you have to act a certain way there, you understand? People are expecting you.

Like for example now I'm explaining this thing to you, there's people behind the camera who are expecting me to do certain things. So I cannot start seeing something, you know, or do something totally different or maybe I can, I don't know. This is California. So anyway. So people are expecting them.

Let's go back to the topic. So people are expecting something from me. So I have to act a certain way. When I go home with my parents, I have to act a certain way, you understand? They have some expectation from me.

When I go with my friends then they have certain expectations. So they are also defining my psychology. In one sense I'm also forced to somehow align with the environment. Because the problem we see if I don't align then I disturb the others' mind also. People start to talk what is the problem.

You have some mental issues or something because you act a certain way. So this is one. So the mind has these three, there's the manas, the mind accepting, rejecting, then buddhi which is the intellect. And then we have ahankara which is this false ego. So these are the functions of the mind, especially with bhagavata purana we can figure it out, this stuff a little bit out.

And then yogis would just speak about more technical part of the mind that we have every experience they leave samskara, samskara to the mind. It's the mental imprint. And the samskara includes three things. Let's say I go to the beach. And then I experience that, it leaves the mental imprint the mind.

Again the experience, that's one. Action. So when something goes, I do something that leave the samskara and samskara is treating. So one thing is the action. So again the experience.

I've been on the beach. So I can go around telling that I went there. So I get the experience. Other is the reaction, a reaction leads to reaction. And that's the karma.

So there's three levels of karma. There's akarma, vikarma and karma. Karma is the positive reaction. Vikarma is negative reaction. And then akarma is actually spiritual action which is actually clearing the karma.

The second one was the reaction. And then the third thing is that I have the tendency to repeat the action. So if I go once to the beach, one time to the beach, then also that samskara includes the tendency to repeat that action, that okay I go there next time and next time. And more I do more deeper is that samskara thing, more deeper it becomes the tendency to repeat the action. So that's the anatomy of the samskara.

And then we have the pratyaya. Okay, let's do the vritti first. So vritti is like a sequence, let's think about like a mental sequence. Let's think about if you have film and there's one scene of the film, is like a sequence of the pictures. So that's vritti.

Vritti means actually to turn, vert. So vritti means to turn. When the mind is turning against its true self. So that's the vritti. When the mind becomes conditioned, it's turning against its own self interest which is the self realization.

So that's the vritti. So vritti is like a long sequence of the film. And then we have pratyaya which is one still picture of the film. So if you have some, so this is how meditation works. So when we meditate something we actually focus on this kind of pratyaya.

We keep some still picture in the mind. Example you can meditate the old mantra, you see the pranava, that sign of the old meaning of mind and then you're trying to maintain that in your mind. So that's technically pratyaya. But the thing is with the pratyaya it's not like a computer memory. If I save some file, let's say I save some photo in the computer I can pick it up tomorrow, you understand?

It's still the same photo. But mind doesn't work like this because mind is always moving. You cannot stop the mind. You can direct the mind to certain direction but you cannot stop the mind. So when we work with this kind of pratyaya we should understand that actually in order to keep one thing in my mind, what is actually happening every moment I'm replacing it with the same picture.

So that's actually to keep the thing. Otherwise it becomes something else. I may start my meditation with the old mantra, but if I don't keep constantly I don't stay focused which means that I'm actually replacing the picture over and over again. After two minutes it may be pink elephant, that old mantra, because I wasn't focused. It becomes something else.

So basically focusing the mind I cannot really anchor it on one object. I actually repeatedly replace it with the same picture. That's steeling the mind. It works like this, this pratyaya. And then there's two dimensions.

The two dimensions are time and space. They exist in the mind also. So time, small. Anu means small. So anu is the smallest unit of the time which is the moment.

So that's the smallest unit of the time mind can experience is the moment. So when we live in the moment, that's on the scale of this time, that's the smallest, smallest part of the time is the moment. A moment is interesting because you cannot measure the moment. It doesn't have any mathematical dimensions. So how many moments you need to get the one minute, or let's say one second.

You cannot answer it. The value of the moment is like a zero. If you put ten zeros after one another it's still zero. But still the time is built from the moment. So that's the time aspect of the mind.

And then space is kasana. Kasana is the smallest unit of the space. And that shows more, also it doesn't have mathematical dimensions. So that's the smallest unit a mind can perceive on a very subtle state. Mind can perceive this kasana which is, you can call it, it's like a subatomic particle.

The mind can actually perceive that it doesn't have mathematical dimensions, to the senses I cannot perceive that. That's why sankhya, sankhya there's lots of these kind of fancy ideas. But they didn't observe this stuff to the senses. They didn't perceive these things to the senses but they perceived these things to the mind. Mind can still perceive something that doesn't have basically mathematical dimensions.

But senses cannot. You have to measure it in order the senses perceive the thing. You have to be able to measure it. These are the smallest units of the mind basically, smallest things that mind can perceive. Mind can perceive, the moment the mind can perceive this kasana, this smallest unit of the matter.

Here are some functions of the mind. And when we understand the mind, the anatomy of the mind, similar way than if you understand the anatomy of the physical body. We understand how the arm works, what are the range of the movement of the joints, then we can work more effectively when we do some physical exercise. Same way if you understand the mind, how the mind works, we understand the anatomy of the mind, we can use it more effectively when we do some meditation or concentration practice, or even learning new things. So that's why it's actually important from the perspective of yoga, also put some time to try to understand how mind works.

Thank you.


Kimberly M
Wonderful synopsis of how the mind works. A couple of the points you brought up helped me see my old understanding in a new light, and will make a real difference in my continue practice to still the mind, and to accept what is when the mind is not still 😂. Thank you 🙏❤️
Vic H
Great Anatomy of mind! I l would lisent more than one time of this talk!
Thank you very much!
Renata F
Thank you very much for this class. I will watch it everyday untill feel it :))

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial