The Fluctuations of the Mind

There is a funny temptation to blame our difficulties of attention on the latest technological distractions. These three sutras remind us that the distractions and results have been similar for a long long time. Pointing towards a cause outside of ourselves is rarely helpful. The solution is to vigilantly engage in self study and knows these temptations and intimate aspects of ourselves. 

1.30 Sickness, apathy, doubt, carelessness, laziness, indulgence, confusion, unsteadiness, and feeling stuck are the interruptions which cause dispersion of attention.

vyādhi styāna samśaya pramāda ālasya avirati bhrānti darśana alabdha bhūmikatva anavasthitatvāni chitta vikṣepāste’ntarāyāḥ

  • vyādhi - sickness, illness, disease
  • styāna - apathy, dullness, mental laziness, rigidity
  • samśaya - doubt, indecision
  • pramāda - carelessness, negligence
  • ālasya - laziness, sloth
  • avirati - indulgence, want of non-attachment, sensuality, craving, desire
  • bhrānti darśana - confusion, false views of perception, blindness
  • alabdha bhūmikatva - failing to attain stages of practice (alabdha - not obtaining, bhūmikatva - firm ground, state)
  • anavasthitatvāni - inability to maintain, inconsistency chitta vikṣepā - distractions of the mind antarāya - obstacle

1.31 Dissatisfaction, despair, nervousness and irregular breathing accompany this dispersion.

duḥkha daurmanasya aṅgam ejayatva śvāsa praśvāsā vikṣepasahabhvaḥ

  • duḥkha - pain (mental or physical)
  • daurmanasya - despair, sadness
  • aṅgam ejayatva - nervousness, shakiness
  • śvāsa - irregular inhalation praśvāsā - irregular exhalation
  • vikṣepa - distractions sahabhvaḥ - correlates, accompaniments, companions

1.32 Dispersion is prevented by the practice of focusing on one truth.

tat-pratiṣedha artham eka tattva abhyāsaḥ


Translation borrowed from The Wisdom of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide by Ravi Ravindra