With this article, we begin discussing another set of Yogic principles that can help us deal with everyday situations in the best way possible for our psychological health and wellbeing. This set of concepts deals with our behaviour towards other people around us but it can apply to aspects of our own self also just as easily. This article has links to all the concepts we have discussed till now.
What is Parikarma?
There are many dictionary meanings of this term in various Indian languages but we are not going to get into it. The reason for that is the context of this word’s usage in Yoga is a bit different from how most languages interpret the term. So, to avoid confusion, let us keep meanings from other languages aside and focus on this term as Yoga speaks about it.
There are many ways to interpret this word in Yoga. Although the term itself is not mentioned, the Yoga Sūtra by Sage Patanjali mention details of the concepts of Parikarma in the first chapter. These concepts are then grouped together as Parikarma by later commentators and scholars.
Parikrama simply means cleansing, which in this case, applies at a psychological and spiritual level rather than as a physical cleanse. I like to keep concept definitions easy to understand for myself so that it becomes simpler to then apply them to daily life. Cleansing is something we are all familiar with on some level. We physically cleanse the body almost daily. Destressing by taking a vacation or a spa day is a type of mental and emotional cleanse.
With Parikarma, we go a bit deeper into cleansing practices and target our core thought processes and our way of thinking. We look at the way our mind works when processing and responding to a person or situation to then figure out the way to optimise this thought process in a way that our mind stays healthy, our energy is conserved, and our breath remains in control. The idea is to target balance in body, mind, breath and to not let our inner worlds be imbalanced by the goings-on of the world around us.
Parikrama – A new way of thinking
In Yoga, there is a lot of emphasis on our thought processes and thinking the right thoughts. What is right differs from person to person; right thinking keeps us healthy in body and mind in the long run. The Sūtra that talks about Parikarma says this: (do not worry, we are going to break this down into its component words):
(You can listen to the Sūtra for pronunciation and chanting on my Instagram post.)
There are four types of cleanses to be directed towards four kinds of people or personalities or actions.
- Maitri towards Sukha
- Friendliness towards those who are happy
- Karuna towards Dukkha
- Compassion and empathy towards those who are unhappy
- Mudita towards Punya
- Delight and appreciation towards those who are successful
- Upeksha towards Apunya
- Indifference towards those who are full of vices
When we follow this way of thinking and make it our own, we attain Chitta Prasādanam or absolute bliss and joy within.
We will be discussing each of these in detail in the following days and weeks, so do not worry if you don’t completely understand what all of this means right now. I only wanted to introduce the concept and its components today so that when we discuss each of these in greater detail, we have an idea of the bigger picture.
If you have any thoughts, experiences, or ideas around this that you would like to share, feel free to comment or reach out to me so I can learn more from you!