Patanjali describes two methods for stopping the flow of mind or to control the mind. They are persistent practice and detachment.
Practice here involves the practice of blocking patterns of consciousness. It may include meditation or karma yoga of bhakti or self-introspection and other practices. If you practice something for some time it is not yet what is meant be persistent practice. You don’t leave persistent practice at all. It becomes a part of your personality, a part of your individual mature. There are three conditions of persistent practice, it should be practiced with complete faith, it should continue uninterrupted and it should go on for quite a long time.
What is important is not the length of time but the fact but the fact that one has to continue the practices without any interruption and until the goal is achieved, whatever time it may take to reach there. One should like the practice to the highest extent. Just as mother becomes disturbed if her child does not return home on time, so the aspirant should become disturbed if he does not do his daily practice. Patanjali declares that if we keep our practice persistent with faith and conviction for a long time, it will definitely bring about the stopping of mental modifications.
Detachment is freedom from attraction and repulsion. Attraction is the attitude of liking for any object of our choice. Repulsion is an attitude of the mind which involves dislike for an object. When a person is without craving, without thirst, without hankering for all the objects of pleasure that he has heard of seen for himself in his life – this is what is meant by detachment. Detachment is the final assessment of everything that one has undergone in life.
Bhagavad Gita says that an individual can be free in this life even while performing various necessary acts in life, if only he can detach himself from the good or bad effects of his actions. Detachment is the manifestation of the purity and peace of one’s mind. It bestows upon the practitioner an undisturbed happiness and silence which remains unchanged whether he is confronted with events that please him or events that would be unpleasant.
Unfulfilled desires give rise to conflicts and tensions. In our daily life we may be unaware of these conflicts and tensions, but a person who wants to meditate finds it impossible to make his mind steady unless the underlying urges and tensions are resolved.
Stages of detachment
There are three stages of detachment. In the first stage, all the likes and dislikes towards the objects of the world are active in the mind. An effort is made to control the natural passions and cravings, such as the tendencies of hate, violence, etc. This stage is characterized by the struggle to overcome the of effects of attraction and repulsion. In the second stage, some items of attraction and repulsion come under the control of the mind, but there are some items which have not yet been controlled. In the third stage, the conscious aspect of attraction and repulsion is completely evolved and the mind becomes free of them.
Types of detachments
There are two varieties of detachment; one is the lower form of detachment and the second is the higher form. In the lower form the aspirant transcends the attachments for sense objects, but these still remain in a subtle form. Higher form detachment involves not only giving up the enjoyments, but even the deep-rooted taste for enjoyment. There is possibility of going back from the lower form of detachment, but when one attains to higher form of detachment there is no return to the life of cravings and passions.
Higher form of detachment evolves when there exists awareness of the real nature of purusha. According to yoga, purusha is the awareness which is devoid of the contents of the mind. It is free from any content of mind. It is a manifestation of consciousness without any of the modifications of the minds. Ultimately, beyond meditation, feeling of ‘I’ also vanishes; what remains is the consciousness called purusha. When the awareness of purusha takes place, the mind is not influenced by the three gunas.