Nirodhah in Yoga Meditation

QUICK EXPLANATION ON NIRODHAH

Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah = this is the second sutra of the Yogasutras, in which yoga is defined. Yoga is the nirodhah of all the movements (vrittis) of the mind-field (chitta). You could say that nirodhah is the verb that makes yoga happen. There is no direct English translation for nirodhah. It contains the process of regulating the movements in the apparent field of consciousness, channeling these movements, gaining mastery over them, integrating and coordinating them, so that eventually they become still and quiet, so that they can be temporary set aside.
 
Nirodhah = Vyasa mentioned in his commentary of the yogasutra 1.1 that there are five states of mind; nirodhah is the fifth state of mind. It is a state in which the mind is mastered.
 
Five states of mind: (in order from not desired to desired state) kshipta, mudha, vikshipta, ekagra, and nirodhah
 

 
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ON THIS PAGE:
NIRODHAH: PRACTICAL
MORE ON NIRODHAH
YOGA SUTRAS ON NIRODHAH
SWAMI RAMA ON NIRODHAH
SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON NIRODHAH
OTHER TEXTS ON NIRODHAH


 

NIRODHAH: PRACTICAL

In which state of mind are you right now… in the state of nirodhah?
It is very useful to learn to recognize the 5 states of mind; kshipta, mudha, vikshipta, ekagra, and nirodhah within oneself. Are you in the state of nirodhah right now? Probably not. Because if you are in this state all movements in the mind are mastered and there is the experience of the Seer resting in its true nature and you won’t be able to read these words. So, in which of the four other states are you?
 
Choosing a state of ekagra
Along the path a student wants to gradually leave behind the states of kshipta, mudha, and vikshipta, evermore residing in the state of ekagra, so that is can direct all its one-pointed energy towards to goal; diving beyond all the states of mind into a state in which the mind is nirodhah.
 
Expand your understanding about nirodhah
Reading about nirodhah may make nirodhah appear as something very advanced. But it is good to know that nirodhah happens all the time, and learning to recognize it is of tremendous value. When the water from the bath drains through the plughole, it goes nirodhah. When the wind stills, it went nirodhah. When you are sitting somewhere and you see the people walk by, they come from one side and walk by and leave again, the process of going is a part of nirodhah. When there is a day in which everything flows nicely, where decisions were made spontaneously and where many things got accomplished while being able to be in contentment and peace, this too is a sense of nirodhah because there was coordination between different aspects of your being. When a disturbing emotion finally calmed down and is gone, this too could playfully called “it went nirodhah.” Thus you can start to see the process of nirodhah in and around you so that you have direct experiences of nirodhah-like moments, this will help you to understand what is meant with nirodhah, and what is meant with yogash chitta vritti nirodhah: where all the vrittis have gone nirodhah.

 

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DAILY OBSERVATION AND YOGIC SELF-AWARENESS ASSESSMENT

Eventually the concept of nirodhah will swim around in your awareness all the time, as it becomes a part of constant self-awareness. Also, becoming aware of nirodhah will have the effect that you will increase your use of this word in your daily vocabulary to express yourself and you will discover how nirodhah relates to other concepts, processes, or insights. For example, you may come to see that when you feel sattva, you may also think of nirodhah, or when you think of nirodhah you may also think of chitta. Eventually you will discover how all these concepts dance together and coming to know this dance will guide you towards that which is beyond all the concepts. This is because as you increase your self-awareness, you will discover that everything you can observe is not who you truly are, everything has to go nirodhah; you are the One that is able to witness all these concepts. Therefore practicing self-awareness is actually practicing not-self-awareness by which the True Self will eventually reveal itself.
 
Look at the self-assessment PDF (assessment-120918.pdf) and a PDF that includes daily internal dialogue and daily observation (sumseven-110410.pdf) on the website of www.abhyasaashram.org (when you are on this page scroll all the way down to find the downloadable PDFs) These PDFs can be used as tools to explore and expand your understanding on nirodhah.

 

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MORE ON NIRODHAH

Nirodhah and the coordination of the four functions of mind
The mind-field has four functions: manas, chitta, ahamkara, and buddhi, together called antahkarana. When one learns to regulate each function of mind separately and then learns how to coordinate them, this coordination is an aspect of nirodhah. In the Upanishads the four functions of mind are likened to be a wheel with four spokes. The center of the hub never moves, which is the Self, on which the wheel of the mind seems to rotate, therefore the Self seems to operate in the apparent manifestation through the four functions of mind. When I was young, I once rode a bike where the spokes where not equally long, therefore the hub was not in the center. When you would ride it there was the experience as if you were riding over little hills, while the surface was flat. Which to me is a nice way to look at the way the four functions of mind need to work together, all are equally important, otherwise you experience the world as a bumpy road! And when they work together as a well-coordinated wheel it is easier to allow all the movement to come to stillness, to a state of nirodhah.

 


 

Nirodhah to all vrittis, including every aspect of antahkarana
Nirodhah needs to happen to all the movements in the chitta. It may at first not sound as if this applies the the four functions of mind, but these too are vrittis. The ability of the mind to take on identities (ahamkara) is a vritti too, as it moves within the mind-field, and therefore needs to go nirodhah at meditation time. The ability to import and export sensory impressions (manas) operates within the mind-field, so this instrument itself is a vritti too, and needs to go nirodhah at meditation time. Even the ability of the mind-field to discriminate, judge, know, and decide (buddhi) needs to go nirodhah at meditation time, as it too operates within chitta and is thus a vritti. The same applies to the senses, the vayus, the elements… everything needs to go nirodhah!
 
Nirodhah as a transition
In the yogasutras 9-16 of chapter 3, patanjali explains the phenomenon of transitions. There are three kinds of transitions, called parinamah.
1) Nirodhah-parinamah: is the transition into the moment where a thought is being mastered, when it transition into going nirodhah. (the transition of suspension)
2) Samadhi-parinamah: is the transition into the moment where a thought is going from all-pointedness into samadhi (one-pointedness), it is the transition into the moment where you get absorbed into one thought.
3) Ekagrata-parinamah: is the transition into the moment where a thought is going from a state of absorption (samadhi) to sustained absorption, where the same one-pointedness arises and subsides sequentially.
 
Very much simplified: Nirodhah-parinamah is the transition into the moment when a thought is going, then samadhi-parinamah is the transition into the moment when a new thought comes, and you get absorbed in it. And ekagrata-parinamah is the transition in the moment when the thoughts stays.
 
The vrittis or movements in the mind-field have their own behavior. The thoughts are always sequential, one comes then another, then another. We have no idea yet of how quick the thoughts come and go, many come per second. Because of avidya most of the active thoughts stay underneath a veil of ignorance (unconsciousness), so that we are only aware of a few thoughts. We gradually learn to invite more thoughts to come forward into our conscious mind-field, which can happen if we grow in vairagya (non-attachment). The more we are stable in non-attachment the more we can “handle” the amount of thoughts that move in our mind-field, without getting crazy. There is always just one thought at a time projected onto the screen of the mind. Therefore to be able to witness the process itself–of the coming, being, and going of the vrittis–and to also be able to master this process this coming, being, and going is an amazing skill. This is explained in these few sutras of chapter 3. It talks about the mastery over the behavior of the thoughts itself.
 
Swami Jnaneshvara beautifully talks about these transitions in his interpretive translation of the yogasutras, click here to read it

 

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YOGASUTRAS ON NIRODHAH

1.2 Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field.
yogash chitta vritti nirodhah
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1.12 These thought patterns (vrittis) are mastered (nirodhah, regulated, coordinated, controlled, stilled, quieted) through practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya).
abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah
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1.51 When even these latent impressions from truth filled knowledge recede along with the other impressions, then there is objectless concentration.
tasya api nirodhe sarva nirodhat nirbijah samadhih
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3.9 That high level of mastery called nirodhah-parinamah occurs in the moment of transition when there is a convergence of the rising tendency of deep impressions, the subsiding tendency, and the attention of the mind field itself.
vyutthana nirodhah samskara abhibhava pradurbhavau nirodhah ksana chitta
anvayah nirodhah-parinamah

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3.10 The steady flow of this state (nirodhah-parinamah) continues by the creation of deep impressions (samskaras) from doing the practice.
tasya prashanta vahita samskarat
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SWAMI RAMA ON NIRODHAH

”Patanjali has put all levels of the mind into five categories: kshipta, vikshipta, mudha, ekagra, and nirodhah. Kshipta is a completely distracted mind. Vikshipta applies to those who have no control over their mind. They do not have a concentrated mind, but if they make effort, they can learn. Sometimes they understand and sometimes they do not understand because of their lack of attention. Their minds are not yet properly trained, but they are capable of being trained and accepted. That mind which remains in a state of stupor is called mudha. Ekagra refers to those who have a concentrated mind and can concentrate well. Nirodhah described those whose is completely under their control. They have trained their mind perfectly and can use it as they wish.”
~ Samadhi pg. 11

 

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SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON NIRODHAH

Read the whole article “Witnessing” on www.swamij.com
The Mudha mind is barely beyond the Kshipta, disturbed mind, only in that the active disturbance has settled down, and the mind might be somewhat more easily trained from this place. Gradually the mind can be taught to be a little bit steady in a positive way, only occasionally distracted, which is the Vikshipta state. Then the mind can move on in training to the Ekagra and Nirrudah states.
 
Read the whole article “Yoga” on www.swamij.com
Witnessing Subtle Transitions in Yoga: You become witness not only to thoughts as we normally think of thoughts, but also to the transition process of how they are coming, being, and going. Nirodhah: You become witness to the process of transitioning into mastery over thought patterns (nirodhah-parinamah), since that transition is an object. Samadhi: You become witness to the process of transitioning into the higher state of meditation (samadhi-parinamah), since that transition is an object. Ekagra: You become witness to the process of transitioning into one-pointedness of mind (ekagra-parinamah), since that transition is an object.

 

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OTHER TEXTS ON NIRODHAH

Panchadasi, Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda and Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai (Translation under Fair Use, and believed to be in the public domain.)
9.126. When meditation on the attributeless Brahman is mature it leads to Samadhi. This state of intense concentration at case leads on to the Nirodha state in which the distinction between subject and object is eliminated.

 

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Yoga Meditation, Contemplation, and Devotion for Self-realization

This site is an offering to those who deeply long to experience Pure Consciousness that is known as Divine Mother or Tripura (‘Tri’ means three, and ‘pura’ means city); She is the one that lives in the three cities of Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep. Temporary leaving behind the three cities and residing only in Pure Consciousness is called Self-realization. Another name for this realization is Yoga; the union of the individual self with the universal Self; the union of Atman with Brahman, or Shiva with Shakti; or the dis-union of Purusha and Prakriti. Some might think of Tripura as an anthropomorphic being but She is not, She is the Non-dual Reality in which all appearing manifestation seems to exist. All that is, is the Non-dual Reality.
 
On this site the teachings of Yoga, Vedanta, and Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra are offered to guide you in learning to meditate directly on Tripura by using modern ways of communication such as through animations, while preserving the ancient wisdom. These teaching have been given to us by an ancient lineage of meditation masters, lovingly called the Tradition of the Himalayan masters. These practices lead us to a space of stillness and silence where Yoga meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer converge into deep devotion and constant awareness of Tripura. At the end of the journey when all efforts are exhausted, grace will dawn. This is known as shaktipata, through which the final barrier is removed, which is the piercing of the bindu, and leads to the direct experience of Non-dual Reality. This finally reveals an unimaginable Joy from knowing the Non-dual Reality or Pure Consciousness!

 

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