Introduction to Yoga Sutras 1.33-1.39
Stabilizing and Clearing the Mind
PREPARING FOR SUBTLER PRACTICES: Stability and clarity of mind are
necessary before being able to experience the subtler meditations or
samadhi (1.40-1.51, 2.12-2.25, 3.4-3.6).
ONE-POINTEDNESS BRINGS FITNESS FOR MEDITATION: The specialized
training of an olympic athlete rests on a solid foundation of
generalized physical fitness. Similarly, generalized training in one-
pointedness is necessary so that meditation practices can advance.
The particular methods suggested in these Sutras relate to the
removal of obstacles through one-pointedness, as suggested in the
previous sutras (1.30-1.32). Here are suggestions of Sutras 1.33-
FOUR ATTITUDES WITH PEOPLE: The first method deals with meditation on
four types of attitudes towards people, including friendliness or
lovingness, compassion or support, happiness or goodwill, and
neutrality or acceptance (1.33).
FIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR FOCUS: Five specific suggestions of objects for
focus of attention are given, including breath awareness, sensation,
inner luminosity, contemplation on a stable mind, and focusing on the
stream of the mind (1.34-1.38).
WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE: Lastly, you might practice one-pointedness on
whatever you find pleasing and useful (1.39).
DON'T SKIP THE BASICS: Skipping such basic training of the mind is
tempting, but is a serious mistake for a student of meditation, and
might result in meditation becoming nothing but a fight with your
FEW WILL GO BEYOND THESE: Many schools of meditation emphasize only
one method, such as meditation on kindness (1.33), breath (1.34), or
some other object (1.39), failing to note that, while extremely
useful, these are only preparatory practices for the subtler
meditations and samadhi, as described in later chapters (Ch 2, Ch 3,
Ch 4). Most people will settle for the calming benefits of the
preparation, and will not pursue the subtler meditations that lead to
STABILIZING VERSUS DISCRIMINATIVE KNOWLEDGE: It is very important to
note that these contemplations are used to stabilize and clear the
mind. The later practices are used for discriminative knowledge (2.26-
2.29. 3.4-3.6). For example, if you are contemplating on friendliness
(1.33), this is not being done to discriminate that it is a part of
avidya or ignorance (2.5), and thus, set aside. In the later
practices, you are discriminating and setting aside (3.4-3.6) what is
due to avidya or ignorance (2.5).