A Nerdy Take on Yoga

You might have had the frustrating experience of battling a slow, lousy computer, which produces a dozen pop-ups with every click. A desktop full of icons and viruses that accumulate over years of usage is also a familiar sight. You can shut down some applications and even manually kill some processes that eat up memory and CPU time. You might run an anti-virus program to clean up the removable viruses. However, the situation repeats, especially so with a Windows PC.

Mind is a bit like this Windows PC. When you are born into this world, you are connected to the “internet”. There is no escaping the web! Over the years the mind accumulates viruses, bad apps, an Operating System (OS) with bugs and of course a cluttered desktop.

When you have had enough with your PC, you have a few options e.g. throw away the PC (and buy a Mac), reformat the hard disk load a different OS like Linux, etc. However, “mind repair” is a bit tricky. We need a working mind at all time and reformatting is not an option.

A compromise solution in the PC analogy is as follows. We shut down inessential applications. Investigate those processes that take up a lot of CPU time and memory and remove their root cause. We clean up the memory by removing unnecessary files. We plug in to internet only when absolutely necessary, working offline as much as feasible. Then, we become nerdy and start patching parts of the OS to plug holes that are being exploited by the viruses and unsavoury applications. Eventually we end up with a fast, useful PC that we love.

The process of Yoga works somewhat like this. Mind is a collection of habits (Saṁskāras) that are acquired in this life or inherited over millions of years of evolution. We get rid of “bad” habits by installing “good” habits. At the same time, we avoid accumulating more bad habits (through a variety of self imposed austerities). Gradually these good habits establish themselves and we have less “CPU time” for the bad habits. With dwindling attention these bad habits become weaker and eventually are forgotten. Then we are left with a mind full of good habits and a lot less anxiety and suffering.

 

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