August Focus – The 4 Aspects of Mind

Where Is My Mind?

Yogis have long sought to understand the cause of human suffering. As in many spiritual traditions, the aim has been to minimize suffering and maximize fulfillment. At the core of most needless suffering, argues this lineage, are habits of the mind, which, when left unexamined and untrained, can leave us in a state of lack, isolation, and anxiety.

The upshot is that each of us can learn which aspects of the mind tend to cause our superfluous pain. Armed with this information, we can stop painful thought habits in their tracks.

The mind, in Patanjalian terms, is comprised of four basic components:

Chitta, the storehouse of memories;
Manas, sensory processing;
Buddhi, discernment; and
Ahamkara, the notion of “I.”

The categories may appear to simplify what goes on in the ol’ noggin, but upon closer examination they’re pretty darn comprehensive. What follows is just a taste and, truthfully, an oversimplification.

So Where Do you Get Stuck?

Chitta
If you tend to get caught in chitta, you may have a habit of recalling the past and dwelling there a bit more than feels good. Do you play your own embarrassing moments on the screen of your mind? Do you tend to ruminate about past hurts to the detriment of your enjoyment now? A certain amount of this is unavoidable and even necessary, but catch yourself if these habits lead you to any shade of misery.

Or, you may spend your mental resources envisioning and perhaps worrying about future events. This is another way chitta strikes, most often subconsciously. Again, we need a little bit of prior planning to function at our best, but watch out when your time spent in the imagined future eclipses your time spent in the eternal now.

Manas
Manas, or the lower mind, is that which keeps us bound to sensory experience. On the positive (and essential) side, it facilitates our interaction with the world around us and puts us in touch with our senses. It processes information coming through the visual and other sensory centers, helping us to understand the environment and our relationship to it.

At its worst, it binds us to passing whims and gruff desires as though the cerebral cortex weren’t a thing. It’s what guides a guilty dog. Akin to the Freudian Id, “Me see x. Me like x,” might be its reductionist essence. To keep manas in its rightful position, we develop the layer of awareness that deciphers incoming stimuli with any eye toward consequences — that’s buddhi.

Buddhi
Buddhi is thought to be the most sattvic (or pure) aspect of mind. It’s our ability to discern and decipher, helping us for instance to understand the difference between a painful option and a desirable one. But when buddhi has led you down a path of suffering, it often looks like “analysis paralysis.” Have you ever caught yourself considering something — anything! a person, a situation, a decision — from a thousand and one angles? What begins as enjoyable consideration becomes a quagmire of speculation, indecision and prolonged over-analysis.

If you’re an over-analyzer, or if judgment and criticism tend to be your oft-tread avenues for emotional affliction, hey, the first step is admitting it! Rather than be ruled by your mind, yoga teaches that you can bring your mind into balance with focused practice (Hello, gaze points, breath work, asana, self study, and meditation).

Ahamkara
Finally, ahamkara, or ego, is that which holds us in a perpetual state of “I-ness” and therefore, too easily, isolation and alienation. Although totally necessary for healthy functioning, ahamkara is the self-same aspect of mind that will tell you things like: I am better than he is. Or, I don’t measure up to her because. Or, I deserve this more than they do because. I was slighted the other day when—. I feel insulted because.

Ahamkara’s most clever work is its subtlest. It doesn’t always show up as a pompous, egregious, “me, me, me” sort of state. It’s more likely to operate just underneath conscious awareness, offering little subliminal messages that tear you down or build you up but ultimately keep you from feeling connected to and at one with the life forms who make up your earthly family.

May this model of the mind-field help you to catch yourself in unnecessary suffering, and may your time on the mat shed light on what it feels like to tend to a mindscape in harmony and at peace.

In gratitude & service,

Leigha & Jacquelyn

2018 Evening Yoga at the Pavilion with Jacquelyn Nash–Registration Now Open

Join us every week this summer for yoga at the Mohonk Preserve’s Slingerland Pavilion which overlooks the majestic Catskills. It’s the perfect place to unwind from your day and to connect with the mind and body while taking in the fresh air and mountain views. Join Jacquelyn for a weekly all-levels Vinyasa Yoga class in this beautiful outdoor setting. Pre-registration is strongly recommended as space is limited. Bring your own mat and water. Rain or Shine.

Mohonk Preserve members: $12 per class; 9 sessions for $99; full series for $170
Non-members: $14 per class; 9 sessions for $116; full series for $195

(If you plan on dropping in, only cash or check will be accepted. Again, registration is strongly recommended.)

To register click here for the direct link.

(The is a program of the Mohonk Preserve. For more information about the program, please contact Anna Harrod at the Mohonk Preserve at 845-255-0919.)

 

 

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Roll & Recovery Monthly Class with Dee Pitcock — Fri., Feb. 1st- 5:30pm-6:30pm

Monthly Class: 1st Fridays

Next one: Friday, Feb. 1st

5:30-6:30pm

Uptown Studio – 57 Crown Street, Kingston

Cost: $16 – This is a special class. No class cards please.

The Roll and Recovery workshop will introduce you to self-myofascial release (SMR) techniques, using a variety of grippy balls, bands, breath work and stretching to help release fascial tension. Manipulation of fascia keeps it supple, well-hydrated and reduces adhesions. SMR also assists in correcting muscle imbalances. Want to know more about fascia? See below.


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dee pitcock, roll & recovery, the yoga houseny, kingston, hudson valley, nyDee Pitcock is a Certified Primal Health Coach and NASM Personal Trainer who has been training clients and teaching fitness classes in the Hudson Valley for over 25 years. She has had the pleasure of helping people lead healthier lives with her work at The Mohonk Mountain House, Signature Fitness in Kingston, The Ridge in Stone Ridge, the Yoga House and Woodstock Healing Arts as well as providing in-home training for private clients. Though a lifelong athlete, Dee faced many challenges with her own body composition and health that necessitated a deep dive into nutrition and ways in which to achieve balance in her life right down to the cellular level. Having been through the trenches, she emerged with more tools and an even greater passion to help her community become happier and healthier.

What is Fascia?

Fascia provides a protective sheath around our entire body as a whole and also surrounds each organ and muscle for protection.  The human framework depends upon fascia to provide form, cohesion, separation and support and to allow movement between neighboring structures without irritation. Every muscle, organ, bone, nerve, and blood vessel is covered in a thin film of fascia, yet all these fascial pockets are interconnected to form a continuous, integrated fascial matrix covering the whole body from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.

Emotional upset/trauma, physical trauma, an inflammation or infection, structural imbalances of any kind, poor posture as well as scar tissue and adhesions may all create inappropriate fascial strain. Flexibility and spontaneity of movement are lost, setting up the body for more trauma, pain and limitation of movement. These powerful fascial restrictions pull the body out of its three-dimensional alignment.

In addition, fascial tissue aids in the repair of tissue and is an important neutralizer of toxins within our bodies and those in our environment.

Studies have shown that additional benefits SMR include:

  • Muscle relaxation:SMR helps reduce and eliminate stored tension in muscles, which aids in alleviating aches and pains.
  • Suppression or reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain:SMR promotes the release of endorphins to help reduce pain.
  • Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery: SMR increases circulation, allowing oxygen and other nutrients to reach the muscles and other soft tissues.
  • Improved joint range of motion, which helps restore optimal length-tension relationships:SMR helps prepare joints for increased range of motion and loads that accompany stretching, strengthening and other dynamic movement exercises.
  • Reduced adhesions and scar tissue that improves the elasticity of muscles and other soft tissues, to improve movement and reduce pain.
  • Regulation of the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a role in decreasing inflammation.
  • Increased activity in the mitochondria of cells, helping promote repair and growth of muscle tissue.
  • Improved neuromuscular efficiency.
  • Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity.
  • Decreased overall effects of stress on the human movement system.

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