The Sanskrit term Citta Vritti (pronounced: CHITTA VRITTIE) can be translated to mean mind chatter, or modifications of the mind. Sanskrit is an ancient language from India.
Imagine for a moment that your mind is a vast ocean. On a calm day when the surface is flat you can see deeply into the ocean. But on a typical day with waves and weather and all manner of aquatic activity the surface of the water becomes turbulent and cloudy. Our thoughts disturb the surface of our mental ocean. Too much mind chatter keeps our mental energies on the surface and prevent us from seeing deeply and utilizing our inherent wisdom.
Turbulent waters lead to poor visibility.
This also represents the filters that our minds process information through. These filters prevent us from seeing the truth of a moment. We have learned to perceive the world around us through filters. These filters and both subtle and gross. They both aid and hinder us. It is the use of these filters that allows us to see one detail but completely miss another. Just like shifting the focus of your eyes allows you to see the mirror, or the reflections in the mirror. So too, shifting the attention of your mind, allows you to see the moment or your interpretation of the moment.
It is often through seeing only our interpretation of a moment, that the truth of the moment is lost.
One example of this is language. When we hear someone speaking we have trained our minds to recognize patterns in the inflection of sound and process that into words. These words are then translated into definitions. Our mind processes each word into analogous objects till a root definition is found that we relate to directly. The words form sentences as they are pieced together and the mind translates the sound waves into meanings.
The purpose of language is to teach people a common way of thinking. This has the positive impact of opening communication. Our automatic translation of sounds into meanings enables us to focus on the word and dismiss extraneous details. But the nuance of a moment can often be found in the discarded context.
Language is one of the more commonly studied and analyzed filters we have. But there are thousands. And they operate in a very similar fashion. Processing an experience and breaking it down into meanings that we can hold onto. In this same way we often discard the context and lose much of the moment.
A simple example of this can be seen in the experience of a rose. It is easy to see a rose, perhaps even appreciate it’s color and smell, but from the level of filters we have labeled it ‘rose’ and moved on from the actual experience of that rose. Rose is a word we know, therefore we have understood the rose and experienced it. So we move on. When in truth this rose is a unique entity. There are no two roses in the world alike. And this rose will soon pass from it’s moment of beauty, and fade and die. The experience of this individual rose can be lost in the process of filtering and labeling.
Many of our filters formed in the first few years of our life. We have automatic response mechanisms built into us that predate our earliest memories of childhood. Response patterns we established before we even learned to hold our heads up.
We don’t consciously remember the cause, or the need for these filters, but they are still there, working for us, and against us, through every moment of our lives. These filters provide context and insight informing our interpretation of each moment. They also cloud the moment overshadowing what is really happening with your ‘perception‘ of what is happening, interpreted relative to occurrences from years past.
One of the goals of meditation is to calm the fluctuations of the mind. Breathing exercises can be a simple and quick meditation that can help quiet your citta vritti and empower you.
Shift your awareness to your breathing.
It can help to focus on a single point in your inhale and exhale.
Either visualize the air as it passes in and out through your nostrils.
Or monitor the expansion and contraction of the lungs.
Simply Observe your breath
Notice the air as it passes through your nostrils, into your body
Notice the air as it leaves through your nostrils, out of your body
Now take a deep inhale through your nostrils
Slowly inhale to the count of 10 (adjust the time as needed to account for your physical abilities)
Pause at the top of the breath and hold to the count of 3
Slowly and fully exhale through your mouth
Again exhaling to the full count of 10
Pause at the bottom of the exhale for a count of 3
Repeat about 6 times.
Then return to observing your breath
Namaste – Kevin Goodman