The entire practice of yoga is not to identify with thoughts but to remain in witnessing passive awareness. According to Patanjali, yoga goes beyond the modifications of the mind. Reactive thinking is active regardless of what you are doing. Reactive, mental and emotional activity arises out of unresolved impressions built into the time-bound karma body of the self-image. This means the reactive perceiver, the ego-mind, superimposes a distorted reality of what is present. Patanjali’s practice of yoga advises us to use prana and pranayama to reveal the reactive edge built into the body as defensive muscles and joint stiffness. This edge represents psychosomatic ills that appear as physical but has a fear-based, karmic component.
Ordinarily, when you face the edge in your yoga posture, a reaction surfaces in the form of an unconscious fight or flight reaction on a mental as well as physical level. This is precisely where the practice of pratyahara withdraws you from identification with reactive thoughts and remain in passive witnessing awareness. In so doing, you are withdrawing from fight or flight reaction arising out of the karma body.
When you withdraw from reactive thoughts and emotions, you withdraw from the reactive perceiver, the ego-mind. Reaction arising from the karma body is food for its survival. When you practice non-reactive, passive witness awareness, you starve the karma body. It cannot be killed by fighting with it. When you withdraw from reactive thoughts and emotions it dies out of starvation. Non-reactive witness of reactive thought forms is a central practice of Patanjali’s eight limbed yoga. Often the sutra “Yoga chitta vritti nirodha” is translated as “stopping the modifications of the mind”. This cannot be achieved by the same mind that created it. It is like fighting a fire with gasoline or hiring a thief as a policeman.
Reactive thoughts that arise from the separated, unconscious karma body, see what is externally present as an enemy. You are the soul, omnipresent, time-transcendent Presence. When you react to the edge that is present, the past is surfacing and superimposing what is present with fight or flight reaction. Your reactive perceiver is fighting its own creation, the “edge”. You cannot solve the problem of the edge, by the same agitated mind that created the edge. Thus, dismantling the edgy ego-mind on the edge is done through non-reactive witness of thoughts and emotions. That is the practice of chitta, vritti, nirodha.
Integrative intention replaces an ego posture with a yoga posture. Instead of reactive or reaction–created edge; you remain in non-reactive, choiceless witness of any mental modifications.