By Andre Haralyi M.A., C-IAYT
The word citta is derived from the verbal root √cit, meaning “to perceive, to observe, or to know.” This word, commonly translated as “mind,” is used as an umbrella term to refer to a variety of mental processes, mainly the faculties of consciousness, attention, intelligence or reasoning.
According to the Yoga-Bhāṣya (I.1), there are five stages, levels, or states of these so-called mental processes:
I. Kshipta: restless, agitated, or scattered. This state is distinguished by the overwhelming prevalence of the dynamic quality of rajas. This state of mind propels us to be more attracted towards sense objects.
II. Mūdha: deluded, dull, or lethargic. This state is distinguished by the surfeit presence of the inert quality of tamas. This state of mind can lead to a sad or depressed condition.
III. Vikshipta: distracted, partially focused or intermittently stable. This state is distinguished by the periodically presence of the balanced quality of sattva, but still occurring at irregular intervals, not continuous or steady. At this level, consciousness is often pulled away from its concentrated state by the 9 obstacles (antarāya) as described by Patañjali in the Yoga Sūtras I.30.
IV. Ekāgra: one-pointed or focused. This state is distinguished by the growing presence of the balanced quality of sattva over rajas and tamas. The one-pointedness state represents what Patañjali calls samprajñāta-samādhi in which consciousness (citta) becomes identified with a single chosen object of concentration.
V. Niruddha: fully arrested, restricted or controlled. This state is distinguished by the overwhelming prevalence of the balanced quality of sattva over rajas and tamas. The fully-arrested state represents what Patañjali calls asamprajñāta-samādhi in which consciousness (citta) is beyond all cognitive content, without object, thoughts, feelings or impressions. All that is left are the subconscious tendencies called samskāras, that can eventually be neutralized if this state is maintained over a long period of time.