From the Classroom – Minding Vagaries of the Mind
“I am generally nice but frequently lose control of my emotions. Happenings affect me, immensely. Something good happens, and I am over the top, and not knowing how to stay grounded. Something bad happens, and I am broken, not knowing how to contain (myself). Sometimes, I doubt that the proportion in which I react under situations is much more aggravated than the cause for which I react. I feel like I am not under control of myself rather, situations take control over me. Ohh how I wish I had more control!
One of the new attendees from my regular evening meditation sessions at our yoga school expressed her concern about the fluctuations in her state of mind. But this is not just her. It is all of us. We all want to be in a constant state of inner balance. But we all are flying out of control – frequently colliding, and crashing down. And some of us who are generally afraid of collision modes have found an alternative way, i.e. the self-destruct mode. Why are we frequently colliding or self-destructing?
Mind is like a Tree
Consider this. Your mind is a tree, glorious and unfathomable in the depths of its roots. Its foliage – leaves of different sizes and hues – is the range of your varied thoughts. Just like the atmosphere around the tree has effect on the leaves, the situations around you impact your thoughts. The leaves flourish in congenial light and moisture, and dance elegantly on the branches under the influence of a friendly breeze. They glisten, twist and turn. But sometimes stormy winds from unforeseen directions lash the tree. The leaves, they shake vigorously, pulling strongly on their stalks. Sometimes the might of winds is far greater than the resilience of the leaf, and then it breaks.
It is the yellowed ones that fall off first with the slightest of the storm. Imagine, the stormy winds are the vagaries of life, difficult situations, stress and tumult. When such conditions strike in the real life, the thoughts in mind, like leaves, rustle unpredictably and uncontrolled. Thoughts which are not formed based on reasoning and supported by conviction, are like weak yellow leaves. They go berserk under influence. It is these ones that cause you most strife. They tug on your poise. If the tree is strong, it may lose a few leaves, but will withstand all storms and continue to thrive. It will not be easily uprooted!
If the mind is strong, it might get a little bothered, but will regain its calm normalcy. It will not be easily imbalanced! This is also something I often tell aspiring yoga teachers at our yoga training school in Rishikesh.
Empowering the Mind
Not all individuals are same. We know some who retain their facade of serenity and poise even in most stirring of situations, like a mountain or a rock or a wall. And then there are some who spill in every direction even with the slightest of influence, like sands in a desert storm. Having come across a very large number of people from varied age-groups, cultures, professions, and skill-sets while traveling the world for yoga training sessions, retreats, and spiritual classes, I have not come across one who has been born with perfect poise and control. It is a matter of focused practice. The mind is a wild beast which is to be tamed, not with force but with care and patience. So how do we tame this beast? How do we bring the flightiness of thoughts under control? Here’s what I have learnt and practice during a lifetime of yoga practice, meditation, and spiritual studies.
Meditation is the Tool
Ancient Indian seers and scholars have left behind a great wealth of knowledge about life. This knowledge is available in the form of documented Vedas and Upanishads, certain schools of thought, rituals and practices. Perhaps the greatest of the gifts of India to the world is that of the Yoga. The art and science of Yoga, the ultimate ‘union’, prescribes various practices to strengthen the body which in turn is an essential requirement for practicing control over mind using Meditation.
In the simplest language ‘meditation’ is learning to remove the feeling that ‘I am the doer’ and replacing it with the attitude of ‘being a witness’ (sakshi-bhav). Meditation is eliminating the boundaries between self and other such that everything becomes ‘one’, Meditation is learning to remove ‘thinking’ and replacing it with ‘being’. ‘Just be’ as you might have heard many a times.
Now consider this
When you are a part of a crowd, you become one with it. The crowd moves left, you have to move left; the crowd moves right, you have to move right. The crowd takes away your sense of direction and willful movement. But when you are no longer part of the crowd, but conveniently sitting at some higher ground, watching? You can see how and where the crowd is moving, which direction it is going towards. Just by being detached, you are seeing a bigger picture and are in a better position to even predict if and where something might go wrong.An exciting example comes to my mind. You know how they talk about the ‘Kumbh Mela’ in India being the largest human gathering on the Earth. Documentaries have been made and studies conducted to understand how such a humongous gathering of free-willed humans is managed without incidents. So, there is a police control room with all jazzy technology. A team of police personnel and analysts keep a careful vigilance on the site of the mela from this control room. They are not part of the crowd, they are sitting in a remote room armed by the insight of the entire site. They know what is going on where, where there might be problems, and they take measures on-time to avoid any mishaps. Meditation is like being inside that control room and having an insight of what is going on!
How to Meditate?
There are many methods as there have been many schools of thought. But I can tell you what I have learnt found effective, and practice at my yoga academy in Rishikesh.. Also, through practice you will find what works best for you. However, I would like stress on one very important aspect which I often repeat and that is you must practice your meditation regularly. But, then success in this world is impossible without dedication and discipline.
1. Setting the Right Environment for Meditation
Where you meditate is important as every place has its own of energy signature. Select a place that is secluded, clean, if possible has natural elements like plants. If you have a dedicated room at your home for meditation, ensure that you don’t let fight, quarrels, noise, or bad thoughts enter that room to save its energy from contamination. Try to create an environment of holiness by lighting ‘diya’, candles, incense etc.
2. Timing Your Meditation Practice
When the night is passing into the day and when the day is passing into the night, these are the times when a state of relative calmness ensues in nature. Hence, early morning and early evening, our bodies are relatively calm and hence suitable for meditation. It is best advised to not to eat immediately before meditation. There has to be a gap as body enters a lazy state after food. food. Also, follow this for yoga training and practice.
3. Starting with Prayer
A grateful attitude is good for meditation. Hence pray to whatever God you believe in. Don’t pray for money or health, or heaven, pray for knowledge and light.
4. Enter Observant Mode
Sit in a comfortable pose and let your mind run on. Wait patiently and watch. Observe your thoughts. Let them run around. Try not to control or force. Sometimes you will be surprised at the nature of these thoughts. But let them be anyway. The idea is not to suppress, the whole philosophy is to let go. So let your thoughts come and go as clouds in the sky. With each passing day of practice you, will notice that the vagaries of the mind are settling down. With each day, the sky will become clearer.
5. Now Project
Think of goodness. Think about your body, that it is healthy and strong. Think of the world that it is peaceful and beautiful. Send out positive vibrations into the world by thinking of goodness.
6. Close the session
Slowly, open your eyes when you feel the need to and come out of meditation. Relax for a while before you go out to face the world.
DO NOT meditate if you are feeling lazy or ill, or when the mind is miserable. Do not meditate in a place that is dirty, noisy, has wild animals around, or has wicked person(s) around.
If you have never meditated before, practice under guidance of a experienced and certified teacher.
The above is an excerpt from a classroom discussion Manohar Ji had with the attendees of Mantra Chanting Meditation Retreat at Chengdu (China). You can write to us at email@example.com or call at +91 8447 045 597 to inquire about our upcoming Yoga programs and Meditation Retreats In India and abroad including 200 Hours Yoga Teacher Training course. Also check our blog posts Ekattva Yogshala’s Yoga Teacher Training at Rishikesh (India) and Things to know about Yoga Teacher Training at Ekattva for useful information and yoga insights.