Would you please say more about the difference between suppression and suspension? An example?
This above applies to the meditation session, which is the four higher states of yoga. However, Patanjali listed only the three highest stages because for him it was a matter of control or suspension of the unwanted operations in the mind/psyche of the yogi.
Suppression is the preliminary stage but it is used by about 99.9% of yogis. This is because they do not have the control over the mind/psyche whereby they can suspend the undesirable operations.
Once there were three cubs with a lioness and the father-lion. The mother tried her best to get the cubs to follow her to a safe place but they ignored her and kept playing. The lion observed this and roar once. Immediately the cubs did as the mother requested. In this example the actions of the lioness are similar to the effort of suppression while the single authoritative roar of the lion is like suspension. In suspension there is immediate command. No resistance is given. No argument is made. In suppression, resistance is felt, arguments are voiced. There may or may not be compliance. With suspension, there is compliance because of an enforceable command.
With the lioness, the cubs expressed this feeling:
“We are not in a mood to do as you say. We will not comply.”
With the lion, the cubs felt this way.
“We will do what you say. Whatever hesitation there was, has disappeared.”
Pratyahar, the fifth state of the ashtanga yoga system, consists of suppression of the natural expressions of the psyche. This requires effort with application of mental/emotional counterforce. The outward going energies are held in check. For some of us, we find that this is impossible and yet we make the endeavor to hold those forces just as when we were children and wanted to use our fingers to stop water from flowing through a garden hose. What happened is that the water squirted through our fingers. But some of it did not come out. We were partially successful.
But then an adult came. He turned a valve which was too high on the wall for children to reach. Immediately the water ceased flowing. This is similar to suspension.
When there is spontaneous thinking, we do not usually make any effort to stop it. However, we are requested to do so when we to practice meditation. We find however that the mind rarely complies with the request to cease a thinking pattern. The student makes the request by a willpower action in the mind but the sequence of thinking continues just as if that request was not made. In some experiences it seems that the thinking becomes more emphatic when the request is made.
At this stage the student may consider some means of suppressing the thinking function of the mind. He may invent a method or he may get one from a senior yogi. In either case when applying that method, he may find that it is or is not effect. This is mostly a method for suppression of the thinking system. In the example of the kid’s efforts to use fingers to stop water from gushing from a garden hose, when the kids get older, their fingers get larger and the effort produces better results. Similarly, when the yogi practice more and more, he finds that there is more effective suppression as he practices day after day. But that is not suspension.
Suspension of thinking process means that during the meditation, the yogi has some mental/emotional command or action (kriya) which causes the mind to immediately cease the thinking.
Think of mice playing in a room. A cat enters. Even if the cat does nothing, the mice will cease their games and scamper away. The cat is such an authority that his mere presence causes the suspension of the mice’s activities and the mice themselves even.
A masterful yogi may have involuntary thinking in the mind from time to time, but during mediation his mere interest in silencing the mind causes the thinking operations to cease. That is suspension, which is the superior method.