Psychological Significance of Cognitive Yoga

Cognitive Yoga is conscious-cognitive-control over futile or miserable motivations, cognitions (thoughts), emotions, actions and imagination, which all are a part of imperfect intelligence; and such conscious regulation is based on psychological and philosophical wisdom, not randomness.

Cognitive Yoga is defined in the Bhagavad Gita and a few verses that are psychologically significant, affect the perception of pain and pleasure in a positive manner and let you keep your cognitive clarity, efficiency and resilience for success and happiness in the modern world are outlined here.

Yoga of Focus (Meditation) is also defined in the Bhagavad Gita and it is already popular around the world. Focus here is on the rest of the cognitive strategies.

For a detailed psychological review and additional information, please refer to cognitive fitness.

Yoga of Equanimity

The man thinking about sense objects develops attachment towards them. Attachment breeds desire and from desire anger arises. Anger creates delusion and delusion leads to confusion of memory. Confusion of memory causes destruction of wisdom and destruction of wisdom leads to the decline of a man. – 2.62, 2.63

Just as fire is covered by smoke, a mirror is covered by dust and just as a fetus is covered by womb so is knowledge covered by desire. And, O son of Kunti, wisdom is covered by this eternal enemy of the wise in the form of desire that is insatiable like fire. – 3.38, 3.39

The pleasure which arises from the contact of senses with the external world, has a beginning and an end, and is also a source of pain; therefore, O son of Kunti, wise do not rejoice in them. – 5.22

From sensory experiences, O son of Kunti, cold, heat, pleasure and pain arise. Tolerate these temporary experiences that come and go, O descendant of Bharat. – 2.14

O best among men, those who are not disturbed by these experiences and who patiently treat pleasure and pain alike are fit for eternal life. – 2.15

Treat pain and pleasure, gain and loss, and victory and defeat alike; and then engage in battle; and in this way you will not incur sin. – 2.38

O Arjun, abandoning the attachment, and situated in Yoga, take action with equanimity towards success and failure (or perfection and imperfection, or other dualities); because equanimity (towards dualities of life or result of your action) is essentially called Yoga (Cognitive Yoga). – 2.48

Yoga of Self-Control

One should elevate oneself, by oneself, not degrade oneself; because one is one’s friend, and one is also one’s enemy. – 6.5

One, who has conquered oneself, by oneself; for him or her, one is one’s friend; and one who has not mastered oneself, one engages in enmity with oneself, like an enemy. – 6.6

Arjun – O Krishna, mind is flickering, distracting, powerful and stubborn. I consider controlling the mind extremely difficult like controlling the wind. – 6.34

Shri Krishna – Without a doubt, O mighty armed one, mind is flickering and difficult to control. But it can be controlled with practice and detachment, O son of Kunti. – 6.35

Yoga of Action

You have the right to work only but never to the fruits of action. You should not engage in action for the sake of reward and you should not attach yourself to inaction. – 2.47

You should do your prescribed duties; taking action is superior to inaction. Without taking action you cannot even maintain your body. – 3.8

Situated in the mode of goodness and free of doubts, he who does not hate unpleasant, unskilled and inauspicious work and who is not attached to pleasant, skilled and auspicious work is intelligent and renouncer. – 18:10

O Son of Kunti, one should not give up usual and prescribed action even if it has defects because each action is covered with defects just as fire is covered with smoke. – 18:48

Yoga of Knowledge

In this world, there is nothing more purifying thing than knowledge. – 4.38

About: Anil Rajput holds a bachelor of technology degree from IIT Bombay. He has worked with Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan, and Merrill Lynch. He lives in Sydney, Australia.


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