Jul 8, 2015

Sutra 1.31. The concept of psychosomatics in Yoga Sutras

The next line of Yoga Sutras has also been in a way neglected by commentators, probably due to the fact that its translation is rather simple while the words are almost monosemantic in their interpretation. At first glance the understanding of it seems to be simple as well. Yet in fact it is not. The understanding of this sutra from linguistic standpoint is not difficult but the actual meaning of what is said there is astonishing. And I am surprised that no one has ever before paid attention to and done justice to this line and the genius of its author!

The point is that in this sutra, 22 centuries prior to official discovery of psychosomatics by Reich, Jacobson and Lowen, prior to works of Darwin dedicated to the link between muscles and emotions, Patanjali has formulated the key principle of this concept: human psyche is projected onto the body, while our uncontrolled somatic performances are associated with the sphere of emotions.

दुःखदौर्मनस्याङ्गमेजयत्वश्वासप्रश्वासा विक्षेपसहभुवः ॥ ३१॥
1. 31. duḥkha-daurmanasya-aṅgam-ejayatva-śvāsa-praśvāsā vikṣepa-sahabhuvaḥ

The word duḥkha has been already well-known to the reader. Dukha is a negative state opposed to sukha – a pleasant state. Some authors translate it as “suffering” or “sorrow” but this understanding of the term might be somewhat inaccurate.

daurmanasy a consists of the same prefix dur- denoting all bad things, and the word manas meaning “thought, reflection”. Thus the word can be translated as “bad thinking” or “slow wits”.

aṅgam-ejayatva – “tremble of body parts”. The word ejayatva derives from the root ej – ‘to move, tremble, shake’ with the help of –tva – the suffix that we already know. 

śvāsa-praśvāsā – “inhalation” and “exhalation” that together make a “[deep] breath” or a “sigh”.

vikṣepa – the “incoherence”, the “scattered nature” of one’s mind familiar to us form the previous line.

sahabhuvaḥ – the most verbatim translation shall be “co-existence”. The particle saha denotes joint actions while the word bhuvah is a noun derived from the verbal root bhu – “to be, to exist”.

Hereby, Patanjali in this line associates the “incoherence” of chitta with emotional states and somatic performances:

1.31. the scattered nature of chitta is accompanied by impaired mood (dukkha), slow-wit, body tremble and sighs.

Here comes the question: why has the author of Yoga Sutras singled out the above-listed psychosomatic responses from the totality of others available, such as, for instance, neurotic laughter or gurgling? The answer may be rather unexpected yet obvious to people who work with chakra system or at least are familiar with my books on this issue. The thing is that the category of chitta-vikshepa (scattered mind) is equivalent to the wording “outflow of energy” used in our terminology. As we remember (see “Chakra Psychodiagnosis”, ”Yoga: Physiology, Psychosomatics, Bioenergetics” and “Chakra System Opening”) the outflow of energy from every chakra causes a specific set of emotional states recognizable in the text of the line 31. Indeed, the outflow from Ajna leads to slow wits, the breach in Anahata causes sighing, the breach of Manipura – anxiety or even trembling, and that of Svadhisthana results in bad mood and perception of the Universe as a vale of misery)). And though Patanjali does not explicitly use chakra discourse, he bases himself upon observations that could have been conceptualized in its scope.

As for the question of why chitta-vikshepa stands for energy outflows, I shall try to discuss this in the articles to follow.

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