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What are the 5 states of mind? How can you control manas vrittis or fluctuations of mind?

According to Yoga Sutra which was composed by the great sage Patanali, chitta or manas in humans, which we call “mind”, is always fluctuating. The fluctuations in the mind are a reflection of the disequilibrium of the three gunas or tri-gunas, and they are Sattva (purity), rajas (activity) and tamas (dullness), which manifest themselves in the form of vrittis or fluctuations of the mind. Thus the purpose of yoga is the cessation or Nirodha of the fluctuations or vrittis of the mind or chitta. It gives rise to the state of samaadhi, where the mind is calm and undisturbed even in the most difficult circumstances.

In order to reach such a state of absolute calmness and balance, it is important to first develop an understanding of the different states in which the human mind lies. The Yoga Sutra talks about 5 different states of mind and they are –

· Kshipta or Chaotic or most fickle state of mind

· Mudha or dull and lazy state of mind

· Vikshipta, or partially focused mind

· Ekagra or one-pointed state of mind

· Niruddha or fully absorbed state of mind.

The Kshipta state, which is also called the "Monkey Mind" state, is dominated by “rajas” guna because most of the time in waking hours, we are involved in some kind of physical or mental activity. There is a lack of decision-making ability, restlessness, confusion, unclarity and anxiety. You can identify and drop unhealthy patterns like waking up late, wrong food habits, negative self-talk, complaining and so on. Similarly, you can consciously inculcate desired life patterns into your life. By doing this, you are giving clear directions to your mind so that it stops wandering and focuses only on what is required at the moment. In this way, Yoga can help you to be present in the moment with greater attention and ease. I will give you an example from my own life, since I am into Software development, more often than not I sit into long calls and often as a mere listener. So earlier I used to frigid my phone, and play games on the phone while on call, which made my mind fluctuate. It was a clear state of Kshipta. After reading through many Upanishads, I realised my mistake. I try to stay in the present and participate. One quick way to stay in the present especially when on long calls is to write notes in a diary or a notebook during the call. In this way, you will listen to whatever is discussed in the call, and also provide your full attention to it. Many professionals also prescribe Praanayaama. Believe me, it really helps to bring in calmness and serenity in your mind.

The Mudha state, which is called the "Donkey Mind" state, is dominated by “tamas” guna in which the mind is sluggish, sleepy and lacks vitality. Due to the sluggish nature of the mind, a lack the energy is observed in this state to deal with subtle and deep issues of life. Most of us usually oscillate between Kshipta and Mudha states during our waking hours. This state comprises a lack of energy and vitality, poor concentration, distorted connection with the inner self, depression and sadness. This state mostly happens in cases where you have to adapt to a totally new life situation and you lose a sense of identity in the newfound space. To handle your mind in this state, drop all your thoughts, and reconnect to your inner world through Yoga and meditation so that you are able to find your ultimate true self which will stay with you in all situations of life.

In the Vikshipta state of mind, "sattva" guna starts to dominate and the mind can gradually concentrate and focus. We feel balanced and happy with clear thoughts, and then when some difficult situations arise we get distracted again and fall back into old patterns. The mind is pulled away from sattva back to rajas or tamas. In this state, there is an alternating state of clarity and confusion. It has a calm mind which is easily distracted, concentration is better than before, fluctuating mind between stability and instability. It can be handled by focussing more and more on the work you are doing. One way I did some time back was concentrating and focussing on a dot on the wall. I kept staring at it trying not to get distracted for a long period. That small dot is all you must see just like Arjun could see only the bird’s eyeball while shooting at Drona’s ashrama.

In the Ekaagra state of mind, it is the "one-pointed" state. From this word, we get

Ekaagrata”. All inner noise has calmed down and the mind is now peaceful, aware and ready for focus. In this state, one can bring their complete attention at one point, without getting affected by any external factors. It kills all confusion and anxiety in a person. According to the great sage and author of Mahabharata, Ved Vyaasa, also provided his commentary on Yoga Sutra. He said that ekaagra will erase all afflictions which cause suffering and pull out a person from the bondage of karma.

Niruddha is the state of mind in which it is fully focused. No old or new impressions can distract the mind from the point of focus and complete stillness is reached. One is able to glide through life with utmost grace. There is no reaction to life’s ever-changing situations. The mind is now fully under the control of the person or yogi and all the fluctuations come under the direct control of intellect (sattvic buddhi) as opposed to being controlled by ego. When the person or Yogi sustains in the state of Niruddha for long periods, the mind reaches a state of equilibrium of the tri-gunas i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, which leads to liberation or Kaivalya.

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