विराम-प्रत्ययाभ्यास- पूर्वः संस्कार-शेषो न्यः
virāma-pratyayābhyāsa-pūrvaḥ saṃskāra-śeṣo’nyaḥ 1:18
virāma – stopping. pratyaya – ideas. abhyāsa – practice.
pūrvaḥ – east (as in pūrvottanasa), early, before, previous.
saṃskāra – mental imprints, learnt behaviours, habitual responses.
śeṣaḥ – remaining, residual.
anyaḥ – the other.
Patanjali has given us the descriptions of some states of Samadhi in the previous sutra. in this sutra he is describing the other (anyaḥ) kind of Samadhi.
The types of Samadhi in sutra 1:17 require an object for the mind to become absorbed in. The mind needs support to find absorption, something to anchor it and allow it to be focused, something to actively help it cease to whirl.
This begins as an active process, we have to put forth effort to concentrate on the object that supports the mind, for example if we are focusing our awareness towards, concentrating on, a flower we have to look at the flower, hold the image of the flower in our mind, and keep coming back to that flower as the mind tries to wander off to look at the rest of the garden. We have to stop the thoughts (virāma-pratyaya). The act of bringing the mind back to the point of focus is effortful and requires practice (abhyāsa).
In this analogy the remainder of the garden, full of bright flowers and butterflies, represents arising thoughts (pratyaya). The flower is the focus and everything else which encroaches on that focus is the mind being drawn into an old pattern of thinking (saṃskāra). Our focus is the flower but perhaps that shade of red reminds us of the soup we had for dinner last night and the mind falls into thinking about that. We have to consciously keep bringing the mind back to concentrating on the flower. And this process, this repetition of bringing the mind back, gathering it in to one point, this practice, then creates a new groove for the mind to rest in.
Once we have practiced stopping the ideas, thoughts, as they arise, they eventually stop arising. The mental imprints, grooves, are still there but they are latent (śeṣaḥ), the mind does not fall into them. Eventually with practice the mind rests in the groove of focus, and concentration. Eventually, with practice, the mind can rest here concentrating only on it’s own nature and requiring no external support – this is the other (anyaḥ) form of Samadhi that Patanjali is alluding to here.
We sit in the garden surrounded by the flowers of our thoughts but the mind rests completely in it its Self, the insects buzz by, the flowers are fragrant, but the mind is still.