In this age of struggle, it can be very difficult to maintain a serene mind. The conflict between nations, conflict at work, conflict with enemies, conflict with friends, conflict at home, and even conflict within oneself can disturb one’s mind and destroy one’s happiness. It is common to be suspicious of someone who is happy and calm, thinking they must be ignorant, uneducated, living in a bubble, or even mentally ill. To be an intelligent, caring human being, one must be disturbed and filled with anxiety. Further, if you seek solace in spiritual practices you are an escapist living in denial and burying your head in the sand.
So in reflection over the span of my life, I tend to ruminate on this particular subject quite a bit, looking at it can help us identify an energy that is occurring. We would rather not acknowledge it, but that does not mean it does not exist!
Many of you know that I teach meditation and it is quite a passion of mine. Knowing the process of meditation and how difficult it is to advance on very rudimental levels even after years of work, I wanted to address some very early stages of this progress that many view as negative or as an obstacle that hinders their advancement.
Before I go further I would like you all to do a small exercise. Sit down and write down your stream of consciousness for an hour. Is that too long to ask? Then, for half an hour? The results will be similar, but I think that it will be important to see it clearly.
Write down honestly and truthfully every thought that you have, both positive and negative, remembering that you do not have to share this with anyone :).
What will happen is that you will be aware of the number of negative thoughts that arise naturally, followed by your mind trying to change the negative thoughts to positive ones. Try not to do this, allow the natural process to continue, be as honest as possible, and show the truthfulness of what you are experiencing daily. Don't do this with judgment or try to change what comes up. Let those thoughts flow! They will take you on a journey of awareness of what you are living with daily! This is normal by the way, to have so many negative thoughts of ourselves, others, the world, our bodies, our minds, and our emotions both positive and negative.
If you don't have the time to write these down, then be aware of your thoughts throughout the day.
When you are done I would like you to understand that you are not your emotions, your body, or your mind. You are something else! You are divine. You are loved. You are perfect. You are safe. It’s just this brain chatter that stops you from seeing these truths, but that is the truth.
“When you realize this try this, “Keep your mind on me alone, your intellect on me; thus you will dwell in me from now on.”
Bhagavad Gita XII.8
Buddhism or buddhi means “intelligence.” The highest and most important aspect of the intellect is its ability to grasp and understand the truth. Many people focus their minds on relative truth, that which is bound by the transient comings and goings of temporary existence, while the spiritual practitioner aims to comprehend or dwell in absolute truth.
Absolute truth is knowledge of the supreme Self or God. Krishna in the above verse from the Gita tells Arjuna that if he is able to focus his intelligence on Him, on God, then without a doubt, he will gain access to the heart of God. God is Love. God is Great. With great love all is possible. To know God is to love God, and this is the yogi’s purpose. To realize that purpose one must devote their whole being to that aim.
Chitta means the “content of the mind”—the mind’s intelligence—and prasad means “blessed.” A blessed mind is a serene mind. Because so much of the anxiety we experience seems to us to be caused by other people—they make us mad, they act in deceitful ways, they are unfair, they are unkind, and on and on—Patanjali tells us of the Yoga Sutra that chitta prasadanam, or serenity, is our mind’s innate state. That’s good news! We should have faith in that truth and do all we can to protect that blessed condition from defilement.
Patanjali gives some advice as to how to accomplish that: be happy for those who are happy, compassionate for those who are unhappy, delighted for those who are virtuous, and indifferent to those who are wicked. If we choose to ignore this advice, we will become entrenched in our own negative emotions and are unable to remember God or devote ourselves to His service. Our intelligence will be consumed by anxiety, and we will be unable to enjoy anything in this world or in any other.
Finding fault with others is a sure way to disturb your mind and destroy your intelligence. When the judgment of others arises, strive to let it go. Let God take care of things. If you remember that He is the supreme doer, you will be able to surrender and let go of your ego’s tendency to try to control the outcome of a situation. Your job is to protect the serenity of your mind.“Mind, your own business!”
Follow the dictates of the Yamas and relate to others with kindness, truthfulness, caring, respect, and generosity. Rid your mind of the diseases of pride, envy, anger, laziness, lust, greed, and gluttony. No one is saying that this is an easy task and that we can accomplish this alone, so to provide help in times of need we would be wise to contemplate the practical suggestions given to us by holy beings and do our best to put them into practice.
The answer is always to look within, quiet the mind, place your focus on God, and repeat all day long!
Life is supposed to be filled with chatter, it is our faith that brings us back to serenity and our true selves.
There is only one truth, and that is that.
Hari Om Tat Sat