Free Press Journal

How the human mind develops psychological skills


The human mind over a period of time becomes robust by assessment of individual differences, behavioural modifications and various guidance skills

Maharishi Patanjali in the celebrated treatise Patanjali Yoga Sutra, wrote, “Tado drashtuhu swarupe avastham,” (Sutra 3), implying that the seer then rests or remains in his / her own nature. This exalted state can be achieved by a disciplined mind. Discipline is to unite oneself, to integrate all loose ends of one’s existence.

It would be worthwhile to perceive and comprehend Sutra 4; “Vrutti sarupyamitarata,” that is, a seeker identifies oneself with the modulations of the mind all the time.

Nature of the mind

The human mind is perpetually cannonaded by innumerable thoughts and at the same time is engaged with the outside world all the time. With eyes wide open in a wakeful state an individual is ensnared by senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. Or else a human being revisits the world of sleep or inertia where the mind blanks out the sensory perception to delve deep inside itself; so much so that one may become the object being perceived in such a state. In such a state it empties and transfigures the mind; attains a tranquil state to metamorphose itself to achieve something atypical and unexampled.

The quintessential character or chitta of the mind in such a stage is to purge itself of all antipathetic and Sisyphean thoughts and embrace efficacious ones and discipline the mind to develop and nourish psychological skills.

Painter from Milan

An estimable Italian painter was intrigued and fascinated by the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and the epic Mahabharata. This consummate occidental artiste from Milan was overwhelmed with the celestial and divine portraits of Hindu deities by the legendary Indian painter.

Raja Ravi Varma had successfully carved a niche for himself through dexterous fusion of European techniques with Indian sensibilities and made the paintings affordable for Indian art lovers through lithographs.

Meanwhile, the proficient Italian painter embarked upon his odyssey to delineate the story of the epic Mahabharata on canvas. He visited several libraries, researched the subject and spent close to ten years to acknowledge, cherish and perceive various nuances, undercurrents and emotions of the saga penned by sage Veda Vyasa.

 He psychologically coached and up skilled his mind through techniques of looking back into various incidents in his life, understand the meaning of love and affection (since they act as a springboard to scale the summit), discovered bonding and togetherness among erudite scholars of Mahabharata and the fraternity of painters, empathised with the loneliness of every aspiring artist and with immense jollity shared their altruism besides the benignity of the painting community.

He celebrated life with gratitude of his Indian friends and the subtlety of the chronicle seeped in his mind and he could then put paint to brush and made splendacious creations. Fundamentally and predominantly the Italian painter developed advanced psychological skills to achieve the laid down objectives.

Discipline, identity and understanding

The term psychological skill-sets can be broadly delineated as a degree of proficiency of faculties, or dexterity that a seeker acquires through vigorous training and vast experience in life. It is paramount and mandatory that the individual keeps the apertures of the mind open to various evolving concepts, propositions and abstractions.

 The human mind over a period of time becomes robust by assessment of individual differences, behavioural modifications and various guidance skills. Continuous and vigorous training disciplines and lays down what can be termed as a quotidian regimen to harness and upgrade skill-sets. The mind is then prepossessing and lustrous like fresh dew on rose petals, resonating with ideas.

The mind demands proof

An untrained mind perennially demands proof. It is not a disciplined mind and is still not open to develop psychological skills.

Sutra 5 of Patanjali Yoga Sutra states that, “Vrutayaha panchtayyaha klishtaklishtaha,” meaning that modulations in the human mind are five-fold and could be agonizing or not painful at all. There are some vruttis or modulations of the mind which are unwelcome and unbidden.

This has been further explained in Sutra 6, “Pramanaviparyayavikalpanidra-smrutayaha.” The human mind is either in quest of proof, on the path of wrong understanding, in a state of imagination, in a state of sleep or memory.

Natural states

 They may well appear paradoxical but these are all natural stages in life. And it is perhaps essential that the human mind is exposed to such thought processes; for it is from doubts that solutions arise. And any scientist will vouchsafe for this trajectory of thought process.

But it is essential to clear the dark clouds of doubt that envelope the human mind in order to seek clarity. This too can be achieved through developing psychological skill-sets of practice (abhyasa) and discipline to achieve the desired target. The examples of the Italian painter and ace archer Arjuna immediately figure on the list; how their minds could become robust by singularly pursuing the path through practise and discipline.

As one develops psychological skills, individuals develop interpersonal skills too; cognitive skills, effective skills, personality and attitudinal skills, expressive and reflective skills grow. It helps one to grow in the knowledge of self, nature, acquire the ability to work with people various backgrounds, respect diversity and accept with sensitivity preferences of various individuals and their ideologies.

“Knowing others is intelligence. Knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is a strength, mastering yourself is true power,” wrote the renowned scholar Lao Tzu.