A yogi’s ability to achieve union with the source of consciousness goes hand-in-hand with developing nirodha. Nirodha, as we learned in the previous post, is both the practice of withdrawing the senses and the state of being in union with the divine.
There are three verses in the third section of the Yoga Sutras that are quite exciting. They deal with the shift from outward perception to inward realization that allows yogis to connect with the source of consciousness. In other words, these verses describe the journey out of our ego and into the truth.
In Western psychology we hear a lot about the subconscious mind. Developing nirodha tunes us into the universe in a way that allows us to operate on a subconscious level. This is different from the kind of subconscious impressions that cause pain. For example, if we learn to expect failure or rejection, even if we’re not conscious of those expectations, the subconscious mind is getting in the way of self-realization.
On the other hand, if our subconscious connects with truth—some call it the collective unconscious—we can become our true selves. That is, we can reach enlightenment.
In yoga, subconscious impressions are called samskaras. If those impressions stem from the misunderstanding of ourselves as separate from the universe, they cause pain. If those impressions are the divine working in us, they enlighten us.
In sutra 3.9, we read:
Impressions of externalization are subdued by the appearance of impressions of nirodha. As the mind begins to be permeated by moments of nirodha, there is development of nirodha. (translation by Reverend Jaganath Carrera)
This may sound confusing, but the concept is quite simple. The more we experience moments of connection with truth, the more we develop the ability to continue to connect with truth. This isn’t circular logic. We need to practice developing nirodha, and the closer we get to it, the more it expands!
And there’s more good in the next sutra:
When impressions of nirodha become strong and pervasive, the mind-stuff attains a calm flow of nirodha. (sutra 3.10)
In the Yogic Zone
Have you ever “in the zone” to the extent that you lose all sense of time, of yourself, and of anything happening around you? This is the calm flow of nirodha that happens when we connected with truth. The experience may only last moments at first, but with practice and dedication the development of nirodha, we will feel this connection more often. We’ll get closer to the eighth limb yoga, which is samadhi, or union with the divine.
The mind-stuff transforms toward samadhi when distractedness dwindles, and one-pointedness arises. (sutra 3.11)
Now we see how meditation pays off! As Reverend Carrera tells us, “Samadhi brings significant changes in the mental environment. It’s almost like renovating a house, adding a new floor, more rooms, windows, and closets…”
We keep building our spiritual life. The more we build, the more possibilities for building even more arise. This is the power of yoga!