Restorative Hatha Yoga Mind & Meditation Practices
Personal Guide for Expanding Consciousness
The brain is the organ through which the mind functions. The mind is different from the brain according to the Yogic view. The "mind" refers to the "field" a person's awareness uses to connect with the inner and outer world. The mind functions as "awareness" which manifests as the ability to perceive, analyze, send and categorize thoughts, experiences and objects. The mind works through the brain, but the two are very different from each other.
The "mind" exists on the subtle plane, not the physical plane. This subtle plane
exists as a medium through which thought waves, called "vrittis" flow in patterns that disturb the medium. When there is no thought, the mind field in undisturbed
like still water in a still vessel - this is the state of mind that is achieved during "Samadhi" - the state of meditation wherein a person experiences inner peace. When a thought occurs, the mind generates a wave that flows through the medium and the brain experiences these waves as electrical currents. These currents record information into the brain in various areas that are stimulated by the thought. The brain records evidence of thought.
Thoughts arise due to interaction of the mind through "awareness function" with either the "inner" or "outer" world. The "inner world" is "mind space" - the space you become aware of when you withdraw your senses from the outer world. It is the space in which all thoughts, feelings and memories occur. It is abstract in nature and extremely "plastic" - able to quickly move from one thought to another thought.
For most people, there are two currents flowing simultaneously: conscious and subconscious. Conscious thought waves are generated when a person is "thinking" about something. Thinking engages the frontal lobes of the brain and only happens once an individual has moved beyond action/reaction, judgment and memory recall.
Thinking draws from the left brain activity to recall "known" information. However, when right brain activity turns on, the mind opens up to the "unknown" - awareness expands and provides the opportunity for a broad experience of possibilities that exist beyond what is known. You can think of the right brain as providing an open clean slate upon which observations relate to one and other in a new way.
When a person is able to "turn on" both brain hemispheres simultaneously, the whole mind field becomes "aware" and thus, it is totally open to learning. New information can be connected into the "bigger picture" just like a puzzle piece is dropped into an existing puzzle format. This "dropping in" experience allows learning to occur as "concepts" rather than "facts". Facts can always be retrieved if a person understands a concept, so it is better to be able to recall concepts than facts.
The other current that flows in most people stems from the subconscious mind.
I call this current "mind chatter". It keeps the mind field in an agitated state and makes it difficult to concentrate - hold the mind at a single point of focus for an extended period of time. Meditation, when practiced on a regular basis, calms the chatter and improves a person's inner world experience by creating an inner environment of silence.
The mind field also extends into the "outer world" through use of the five physical senses and projection of "awareness" onto objects that exist in a person's surroundings. Awareness function gathers information, draws it back to the "Seer" within and then combines observation with known information to result in a thought. When the mind is distracted by stimuli from the outer world, it cannot concentrate. Without concentration, the mind cannot think and learning does not occur. Pure recall is distorted due to a muddle state of mind that manifests as confusion. If a person becomes frustrated, this disturbance in the emotional body only makes matters worse.
So, to improve your ability to learn, it is important to eliminate distractions in your outer world, quiet your mind chatter and turn on both brain hemispheres. You can accomplish all this through a simple controlled breathing practice called "Alternate Breath". It only takes a few minutes of your time and you will find that thinking and learning become an experience you have some control over.
Here is a recording of my "Alternate Breathing" practice. Good luck!
All articles, videos and audio recordings by Melinda Peterson are copyrighted.