Lesson 2 - Classification of mind patterns

In the Lesson 1 you learnt the nature and scope of Yoga. You also learnt that Yoga deals with restraining the mind. In this lesson you will learn the classification of mind patterns or fluctuations. You may wonder as to why such detailed classification is needed. Once we aim at restraining the mind why to worry about the classification? However, knowing the types of patterns floating in the mind is very essential. It is something like this - When army men want to destroy enemy they first need to know the enemy. They thoroughly study the enemy in terms of geographical location, past evidences and political situations. Only then they can destroy the enemy easily. The same holds true for mind also. Unless you clearly know the nature of mind it can easily fool you. Mind is so clever in fooling us that we never know how and when it wanders from the designated goal. Knowing these patterns will help you to remain alert and avoid falling in the trap.

The patterns of mind are classified into five categories. These categories are:

  • Evidence
  • Misconception
  • Fancy
  • Sleep
  • Memory


We receive an evidence about objects in one of the three forms:

  • Direct perception
  • Inference
  • Testimony

When we know something ourselves that is direct perception. For example you see a thief stealing valuables from your neighbor's house. You yourself have seen this and you need no confirmation about it. This is direct perception.

Sometimes it happens that from some signs you infer about an object. For example when you enter your kitchen and get a smoky smell you infer that something must be burning. From your past experiences you have related the smell of smoke with fire and when you smell smoke you immediately conclude that there must be fire. This is inference.

Often we believe wholeheartedly on something. We never question right or wrong about it. For example you believe that each substance is made up of atoms. You never question this fact. Why? Because you know that many scientists have proven this fact in their laboratories. Their experiments have demonstrated the existence of atoms. This is testimony.


Misconception is opposite of evidence. It refers to the wrong knowledge that does not correspond to a real entity. For example when you go for a trail in jungle and happen to glance at a rope lying on the way you falsely interpret it as a snake. This is misconception.


Often our mind creates objects and starts thinking about them. These objects do not exist in reality. For example when you read a horror story you imagine the ghost from the story in front of your eyes. That ghost doesn't exist in reality but because of the words your mind creates it. This is Fancy.


You may wonder why sleep is a pattern of mind. In sleep though the mind is not actively receiving any external stimuli it does exists. Thus sleep can be considered as the state in which mind does not indulge in the external world via sense organs.  For example when you read a boring novel your senses try to reject it by blocking the stimuli going to the mind. Mind becomes void and you feel sleepy. Thus sleep is also a pattern of mind.


When we perceive some object we are able to recollect it at a later time. That means even though the object is not present in front of you, you can recollect it at your will. For example your friend tells you his new address where he has recently been shifted. You reach your office after one hour and write it down in your address book. You were able to recollect the address told to you one hour ago. This is memory.

If you look at your own experiences you will find that they fit into one or the other category described above. Thus these five types of mind patters are responsible for the wandering and fluctuating nature of the mind. If you want to attain self-realization these five fold fluctuations must be restrained.

Just to summarize this lesson:

  • Mind assumes five fold patterns or fluctuations
  • These patters are Evidence, Misconception, Fancy, Sleep and Memory
  • Yoga aims at stopping these five patters through various means

May the Peace be with you.

Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant and trainer by profession specializing in Microsoft web development technologies. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he is also a yoga mentor, meditation teacher, and spiritual guide to his students. He is a prolific author and writes regularly about software development and yoga on his websites. He is programming, meditating, writing, and teaching for over 27 years. To read more about him go here. More details about his Kriya and Meditation online course are available here.

Posted On : 08 September 2006

Tags : Yoga Patanjali Raja Yoga Ashtanga Yoga Meditation Courses