Recently, my computer picked up a virus. The same message kept popping up on my screen and no matter how many times I deleted it, it came back. I was busy with a deadline and I couldn’t afford to lose time. So I called an expert who told me how to run an anti-virus program. I did, and afterwards my computer system was clean and working well.
Yoga texts, like the Yoga Sutras, describe our minds and physical bodies the way computer engineers describe software and hardware. Just as viruses infect computer software, outside influences similarly affect our minds. These mind viruses are called vrittis, or impressions that we take in through our senses from the world around us.
And a disturbed mind brings us anxiety. Practicing mantra meditation is just like running an antivirus program that clears the mind. And when the mind is clear and calm one feels inner peace. The Yoga Sutras, the original guidebook to meditation, says that we are spiritual beings, or pure consciousness, but we now live within bodies made of gross and subtle matter.
They explain how our minds are affected by what we expose ourselves to and that because of this how we assume varying degrees of focus: wondering, confused, distracted. Those who identify themselves with their minds, feel themselves to be going through these changes themselves, the way a person identifying with a movie goes through emotional changes according to what he or she sees on the screen.
The philosopher, Epictetus therefore said, “We are not upset about what happens to us; rather, we are upset about what we think is happening to us.”
Stress has become one of our modern societies’ biggest problems. A recent study from the American Psychological Association found that nearly half of American adults experience high levels of stress especially over work and money. It not only causes numerous diseases like hypertension, depression, and obesity, but also takes away from our natural tendency and ability to appreciate life.
Without peace of mind we cannot find happiness, no matter where we live or what things we have. Those who practice mantra meditation can bring their minds to elevated states that the Yoga Sutras call, concentrated and restrained. When our minds become calm, we see for ourselves that we have a life beyond both our minds and physical bodies.
Anyone can calm the turbulent mind by mantra meditation to become aware of his or her inner spiritual identity and feel satisfaction. Such inner satisfaction is the first symptom of self-realization.
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