Yoga path values: Atmavinigrahah, the self-control
Atmavinigrahah is one of the yoga values explained by Krishna to Arjuna, during their dialogue in the Bhagavad Gita. Considered an essential value to pursue the yogic path, this Sanskrit word stands for self-control or control over the mind.
Understand what it means in practical terms is essential to figure out its role and why it’s part of the yoga lifestyle. Keep reading and understand better what is Atmavinigrahah.
Atmavinigrahah: the control of the self
Atmavinigrahah has, in its composition, the Sanskrit word Atma, which basically means what we call “I”. The conception of the self can have different sides, depending on what is considered the self. It can refer to the body, the mind, the vital functions of the body, the ego, the conscious, among others.
We also refer to “I”, to the self, when we talk about daily life tasks or states: “I’m tired!”; “I’m going to drive my car”.
If in the Vedanta philosophy the “I” means the whole conscious that determines our true nature, during life we give this expression many other meanings.
In this sense, Atmavinigrahah refers especially to the mind, so when we use the explanation “self-control” or “control of the self” it always refers to the mind.
In this case, control connotation is not of restrain or repression, but having a command and domain over the mind.
The control over the mind
What are we supposed to control, after all?
To start with, we need to observe, explore and get familiar with our way of thinking. The mind is always changing, the thoughts come and go, but it’s our option to give attention and fuel to some thoughts and ignore others.
By getting a deep connection with our own way of thinking, we can deliberate and rationally decide which thoughts we want to accept and which ones we want to discard. Our thoughts must be analyzed and identified, and that’s part of the domain over the mind.
The control over the mind, Atmavinigrahah, has three different aspects:
- the discipline over the thoughts when they show up;
- the choice over the thoughts and actions on the level of the five senses;
- the focus of the mind in one thing, the stability of the thoughts.
The last aspect concerns, for example, to the meditation technique of Japa. This meditation consists of the repetition of a mantra for 108 times), but the self-control goes beyond that.
Self-control and spiritual progress
Let’s get into a more practical explanation of this value. The daily life is full of distractions. These go from the food we eat, the type of relationships we are, the activities we join, among many others.
The yogic lifestyle path is a rigorous one, of commitment and study. That means, for example, that a person who is always going out and drinking, won’t have the mind space for staying calm and study.
On a more subtle level, a person that only pays attention to negative thoughts, won’t have the capacity of seeing the truth from the yoga teachings.
It’s necessary to keep an alert state both on the mind level, and on the practical choices that are a result of our thoughts.
Atmavinigrahah is, after all, the self-control that allows keeping choosing the path of the spiritual progress, by facing the challenges it presents and avoiding the temptation of choosing a superficial lifestyle.
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