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1.31 Watch out for the Signs

Updated: Sep 13, 2021


Dukha-dourmanasya-angamayejayatva-shvasa-prashvasa vikshepa-saha-bhuvaha.

दुःखदौर्मन्सयाङ्गमेजयत्वश्चासप्रश्चासा विक्षेपसहभुवः॥१.३१॥

Duḥkhadaurmanasya̅ṅgamejayatvaśva̅sapraśva̅sa̅ vikṣepasahabhuvaḥ ||1.31||

Grief, Resentment, lack of control over body, and irregular breathing are the symptoms that one is facing a challenge on his path.


Everyone faces one or more of the nine obstacles listed in the previous sutra on their spiritual or material path. It is unfortunate that, for some people, the state of obstacle becomes their natural state. Such people do not even recognize anything is wrong. To help these people, Maharishi Patanjali lists the symptoms that arise along with the obstacles. One may not be able to diagnose the disease, but one is always aware of the pain manifesting due to the disease.

1. Dukha – Grief/Sadness: We all have to go through tough times. Death, betrayal, failure and much more. Grief and sadness are as solid as the next rock that you will kick in frustration. One cannot get rid of these natural emotions that everyone has a fair share of in their life. But we should also know how to move on from these emotions. These should not be our ground state. There is something that needs to be changed if that is the case. Maybe it is your job, or your toxic relationship, or your family/friends, or your own insecurities that are making you miserable all the time. It is a sign something is terribly wrong and, most of the times, there is something that we can do; we need to start looking for possibilities of change.

2. Dourmanasya – Bitterness: We all have fantasized about revenge in one form of the other – Oh, I should have said this in reply to his insult, I should have punched him when I had the chance, I wish he had never shown up in my life, etc. We are unable to stop blaming people and God. Holding on to grudges and the bitterness is one sure way to Hell. The mind starts spouting insecurities. Anger becomes a permanent tenant. Negativity clouds the brain. Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave. Yes, people do things that hurt, that destroy and that cause immense pain and agony. One can physically move away from them, if possible, but removing them from mind takes forgiveness. What they did was their choice, but allowing them to still destroy you while they are not there is ours. We need to forgive people and God for our sake. Focusing on the positive things in life, expressing gratitude, standing up for yourself and being a responsible human being goes a long, long way in keeping the bitterness away. Meditation is a sure-shot way to help remove all the impressions that keep on bothering us and do not allow us peace.

3. Angamejayatva – Lack of Control over the Body: The body is a tool as well as an instrument. If it listens to the mind and helps you fulfill the tasks you set out to do, it is a good tool. For that, it must be kept disease free, healthy, and fit. The state of the body tells the state of the mind. If the body is unable to take any kind of hard work, or if it refuses to get up and work and feels sleepy all the time resulting in anxiety and apprehensions, then it is a poor tool and an instrument which tells us the body and mind are not in sync. Fear, anxiety, jealousy and other undesirable emotions have a physiological effect – the breath becomes shallow, the heart speeds up, the immune system becomes weak, the blood pressure fluctuates, the eyes fail to focus, the legs stumble over each other, and the hands are unable to grasp anything. The body fails to listen to you. Your senses frantically try to gather some information that might quell the storm that is raging in the mind. You listen to one song after another, you binge watch movies, spend hours shopping online, and are unable to sleep or get up from bed. Something is wrong. Get help. Treat yourself like your own child – take care of it unconditionally with the highest priority.

4. Shvasa-prashavasa Vikshepa – Irregular Breathing: The breath is the mirror of the mind. There is a very interesting experiment you could do with yourself. Sit comfortably where no one will disturb you for a few minutes. Try different breathing patterns. Hold your breath for some time and see what emotions arise. Then breathe fast and shallow and observe. Breathe fast and deep and observe. Breathe loudly and observe. Breathe gently and deeply and observe. You may not be able to observe your emotions the first time you attempt this. Some Yogic practices like Pranayama and Meditation may help you increase your awareness, or you can attempt this repeatedly over a few days and try to observe. You will understand why irregular breathing is a symptom of a disturbed mind.

It is quite possible that pranayama and meditation may also result in these symptoms. Many people experience grief in their meditations, or their breathing becomes strained and irregular during practicing Pranayamas. It is very normal. Most of the cases, it is the elimination of the toxins that causes such reactions. The impressions that were hiding in the subconscious mind surface and many years of pent-up emotions and desires cause people to cry and scream and laugh hysterically. I have seen such people myself. In my opinion, it is a sacred experience, a sign that whatever you are practicing is working. Also, a meditation may cause doubts and apprehensions to surface which induce fear – these may some of the issues you have been brushing under the carpet and need to address.

The asanas and Pranayamas are not supposed to cause any kind of stress. If you feel any injury in the body, or if there is strain in your breath due to Pranayama, you should definitely consult with a competent Yoga Teacher.

These symptoms are easily noticed. They are not to be ignored because that really does not solve anything. Help yourself get better. Consider it a priority.

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