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The Five States of Mental Activity

The Five States of Mental Activity

The Five States of Mental Activity

Patanjali, author of The Yoga Sutras, shares that there are five states of mental activity. They are understanding, misunderstanding, memory, sleeping, and imagination. Patanjali says that these five states of mental activity may, or may not, cause us suffering. Patanjali reminds us that our essential nature is often hidden due to the activity of the mind, and that we will experience yoga when we are able to settle the mind and connect with our essential consciousness.


Understanding is the mental activity and psychological process of a person who comprehends and has a sympathetic awareness and tolerance of the object of observation. The concept of understanding means that you get it. Understanding relates to an individual perception, judgment, or abstract thought. When one understands they are tolerant and forgiving, they are unattached, they are not emotionally triggered or ensnared. When we understand we are able to put ourselves in the shoes of another and derive logical conclusions. We are able to reason.

This is the nicest thing we can do for others. It is a sign that we love and accept our selves when we are willing to understand one another. We understand when we remember that each one of us is going to experience the world in a different way. Each one of us will have experiences that will shape our perspective. Understanding is the entry point to peace, healing, and the enlightenment of being.


Misunderstanding is when we interpret the situation incorrectly. It is a mistake to the meaning of something, the intention, or a specific point of view. Most problems, difficulties, and discords are a result of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is usually rooted in ego consciousness, and the creation of conflict, and delusion.


Yoga says we can resolve all of our relationships and all of our karma back to source, back to joy. We are reminded through yoga that we do not have to be in physicality with those from our past in order to heal the relationship. We can through our memory explore our past, and without emotional entanglement, shift our perspective of the past experience, so we arrive to the present moment with a sense of completion, and peace.

Whether an experience really happened, or was just a part of our interpretation of an experience, the nervous system will process it the same. This is why we can go into our memory, and resolve any discord, so we do not perpetuate the suffering through our memories.

Many of our memories can cause us great joy. This is the goal to bring all of our memories back to joy. Our memories are information stored in our brain that are actually influencing our present behaviors, our self identification, our self worth, our personality, our fear, our relationships, just about everything.

The only thing we can count on is change, and if we become identified with a persona based on memory, we stunt our ability to change. We can get trapped in memory and miss out on explorations of who we are in the moment-by-moment, ever-changing scenario of life.  

Our memory is what stores, encodes, and retrieves information. Without memory we would be challenged with language, relationships, personal identity, work, survival, etc. We store both conscious and unconscious memories. Our memories are also not perfect records. There are many factors that affect our memory. There are many factors that affect our perception.

The memory of the human brain is an enigma. Scientists confirm that memory is complex, and is a filing system that affects all aspects of our brains. We store memories in our bodies, in every cell. Yoga says our bodies are made up of our karma, and our karma is ensured because of our memory, whether conscious or unconscious.

Many healers are able to access the Akashic records and recover the memories of our subconscious, the memories of multidimensional realities. The Akashic records are a collaborative recording of all existing events, thoughts, words, emotions, intentions, etc., to have occurred in the past, present, or future. The Akashic records are encoded in the etheric plane, a non-physical plane of existence. There is no scientific evidence of the Akashic records, but many theologists, healers, mystics, and seekers of truth can confirm its validity.

The Akashic records are the libraries, or memories, of all our karma. Akasha is the Sanskrit word for ether, space. This is the element of the third eye chakra, and the crown chakra. Through meditation and focus, the Akashic records can be remembered.

Many people may have a fear, a pattern, or a knowing, that they have no known experience of in this lifetime. Yoga says there is reincarnation. That the soul moves through different bodies, just like we change our clothes each day. We have other souls that we travel with throughout our lives, and we assist one another in playing the characters of life’s dramas, with the goal to resolve all karma, and to go back to source, back to Oneness.

Have you ever met someone and the connection was so familiar? Have you ever experienced Déjà vu? Do you have a fear of heights, water, or love, yet have no recollection as to why you would have such a phobia or fear?

The memory in our cells, store the answers to our questions. What you are looking for is that which is doing the looking. You! The practices of yoga and meditation will prepare the yogi for exploring their memory. Yoga will help the yogi to remember, resolve all karma back to source, and to make the infinite connections.


Sleep is so important for our health and our ability to focus and stay present when we are awake. It is a chance for us to shut off the constant whirlings of the mind. “Sleep is a naturally occurring state of mind and body that brings about altered consciousness, inhibited sensory activity, inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles, and reduced interactions with the surrounding environment” (Wikipedia).

If you have difficulty with sleep, it can affect all aspects of your life. In sleep deprivation, one of the first things we loose is self-awareness. When we don’t give our bodies the rest they need, the break from the conscious world, we risk lack of consciousness in our waking life, and this can lead to more vulnerability to emotional triggers, and the creation of more karma.

We are getting more and more disconnected from our natural sleeping patterns due to our schedule demands. It is rare that we can allow for our bodies to naturally wake up and naturally get to sleep. For many, when it comes time to go to sleep, we are still buzzing from the caffeine through out the work day due to the lack of good sleep the night prior, or our minds are still swirling, and our nervous system is still in the fight or flight mode. So then we go for the beer, glass of wine, weed, prescription, and literally knock our selves out. Yet this is not good sleep.

Most of us are abusing our bodies to balance our sleep, actually making our sleep worse. Caffeine, alcohol, recreational drugs, and sleeping drugs are making our sleep worse. It disrupts the REM cycle.

We know this is not healthy yet we are still supporting this lifestyle in our culture. When I was a teenager my high school was over populated and the school decided to break up the schedule into split shifts. I was expected to be in school 7am-1pm. My alarm would go off at 530am to quickly get dressed, get some food, and get to my school. This was in Atlanta, so the traffic to school took at least 30 minutes. This was unhealthy as a developing young adult.

We are still regulating such schedules in our school systems. Many of us as adults are on these schedules with 7am starts. Much of our workforce is working the over night shifts, challenging healthy sleep. I did this for several years working in the mental health field for my psychology clinical hour requirements. It was unhealthy. But there was not much option for a brand new psychology graduate. There is a correlation to lack of sleep and stress, anxiety, depression, hormone imbalance, and nervous system dysfunction.

The consciousness of sleep is mysterious. There is a lot of research into the physiology of sleep, but we cannot grasp it in it’s totally. When we sleep we disconnect from the chattering of the mind, we recharge, and connect back to source and other dimensional aspects of our being. The dream world is an incredible opportunity to explore the subconscious realm.

Dreams can guide us in our waking life and help us to resolve imprints, emotions, and bring us guidance from our higher self. When we consistently can’t sleep, we feel the loss, and wander like zombies to get through our waking cycle. It has many health implications, affecting both our mental and physiological health.

To prepare our self to get back to better sleeping patterns we must break the routines that are keeping us up.

Setting up your bedroom to support good sleep may look like ensuring there is no light in the bedroom, and setting up some evening rituals to help you prepare for sleep, for example, essential oils, Epson salt bath, meditation, and yoga.

Sleep specialists suggest using the bedroom for just sleep, and do all other activity in other rooms. If you are like me and live in a small space, this is not really possible but there are ways to slow down the evenings. I personally live with out a television and without the Internet. I find this is incredibly helpful for my happiness, peace, mindfulness, sleep, and creativity, as I prefer to use my free time in my home for playing my instruments, creating my art, writing, practicing yoga, reading, etc.

It is also beneficial to reduce noise. This is hard when you are living in an apartment, but you can find relief from the noises of neighbors with fans, humidifiers, and air purifiers. I also sometimes listen to relaxing ambient music while meditating before sleep. If you are married and your spouse snores, kicks, or has sleeping issues, and if you have the space in your home, perhaps consider separating for sleep. If there is consciousness and good communication, this may be a very helpful strategy for good sleep, and more time enjoyed together during waking hours.

Some more natural assists when struggling with insomnia are Magnesium and Calcium supplements, Epson salt baths, Valerian Root tea, Melatonin tincture, Lavender essential oil, Passion flower, and Lemon.


Imagination seems to be a challenging mental activity for those of us raised in our current cultural, social, educational and economic system. How often do we as adults imagine, like we did as a child? I remember my childhood imagination explorations including faeries, castles, mythical creatures, dances, romances, flying, time traveling, and body swapping.

Why and when did we agree with what we were told, by elders of authority, to stop dreaming? Why is it that socially we were threatened out of our imaginations to avoid the risks of being labeled as strange or misbehaving?

Imagination sparks creative thought and receptivity to new insights into the infinite possibilities for the expansion of our being. How can we reclaim our ability to imagine?

Just like the physical body needs exercise and movement to stay healthy, so does the mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies. Imagination needs to be exercised. Use it for a sweet experience.

Where do we start when there is fear and insecurity to explore our imaginations? We can start with accepting that our memories of imagination being unacceptable for adulthood may have been misunderstandings. We can begin again to cultivate our imaginations with creative actions we are attracted to, such as playing an instrument, creating an art or design project, writing, dancing, preparation of a meal, performing a standup comedy act for friends, or learning a new language. When we start to imagine our art and our dreams, it becomes a sacred mission towards creation.

Instead of dwelling in the fear and challenges of life, start to use your imagination and mental activity for great adventures, peaceful communities, and the most desirable and wondrous things! Imagination allows our spirits to sync with our passions, creating beauty and belief. Making the unimaginable, imaginable, and the impossible, “I’m Possible.”

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