Guruji on Observing the Mind & Yoga

An important discussion – often taken up during our satsangs – pertains to the non-stop chatter going on in our minds. Our minds are ever active, churning out thoughts by the second. Everything that occurs on earth – comes from the mind. When we cultivate the habit of observing the mind, you will note that we tend to carry a conscious mind. However, when there is continuous and non-stop chatter of thoughts happening in the mind, then even when engaged in some activity, it is the subconscious mind that is at work. This incessant flow of thoughts and constant chatter happens because we fail to observe our mind, and go on doing things without even consciously considering them. So, the most important thing to do is – quieten the subconscious mind, and allow the conscious mind to work for us.

Now let us see how we can manage to maintain a conscious mind. Let’s engage in a simple exercise that allows the conscious mind to work. Sit down on a chair, or on the floor in any asana – padmasana, vajrasana or sukhasana. Keep your eyes closed. Now straighten your back, keep your chin up, place your hands on your lap with loosely interlaced fingers. Smile a little so that your face become relaxed. Now, gently and slowly, breathe in four counts, breathe out four counts, and rest for four counts with suspended breath. All the while, observe your action of breathing, as you do this. Then, repeat the exercise of breathing in, breathing out, and suspending the breath – for four counts each. Do this cycle for ten times, and then stop. Now observe your entire body and the movements within. Shift your focus to the middle of your forehead – to your ‘ajna chakra’ – without straining. Observe your posture, breathing naturally and maintain the smile on your face.

You will now observe that your mind has become comparatively quiet. In the beginning, you may find the quietening of the mind happening only for a few minutes, but with regular practice you will find that you are able to maintain the quietening of mind for longer duration. There are many other exercises which will help you quieten the mind, for example chanting a mantra, listening to soothing music, etc., but for the time being engage in the breathing exercise given to you, and make it a conscious practice to observe your mind at all times, no matter what you do. By and by, you will find that all your actions are always conscious actions, and unwanted, ceaseless chattering of the mind reduces almost completely.  Whenever such breathing techniques are practised, it’s necessary to do so on an empty stomach, for best results.  Pranayama and Yoga, when practised in a slow and systematic manner, eventually stills the chatter of the mind and leads the sadhaka to a state of deep peace.

There is a close and subtle link between the mind, breath, and intellect. If we breathe without maintaining awareness of our breathing, our consciousness fluctuates between ‘conscious and sub-conscience minds”, and random thoughts keep entering and exiting our minds. But when we observe our breath, when we do conscious breathing, and our breathing gets deeper, the awareness level consciously gets better, and a meditative, no-thought state can be achieved. This is the best method to quieten the mind during periods of stress. When we allow the day-to-day strains and stresses to rule our lives, when we fail to learn proper and conscious methods to destress, we are bound to develop physical illnesses. We may develop health issues like insomnia, indigestion with high stomach acid levels, and a series of other ailments.

Regular practice of Pranayama and Yoga will help in turning the attention inward, and will also help us to maintain a calm state of mind. This tranquillity of mind, is closely linked to the regular repair and healing that is constantly happening in the body. Yoga is not some ordinary physical-exercise system that is practised for one or two hours a day. It is much more than that – as it is a holistic way to connect the body-mind-consciousness. In order to obtain the complete benefit of yoga, one has to be a dedicated sadhaka who practises purity and discipline – both physical and mental. Just as a sick person is advised to follow discipline in all matters, viz: medicines, diet, rest, sleep, etc., so also to derive the maximum benefit from the unique systems of Pranayama and Yoga, it is necessary to follow a strict diet, rest and sleep routine. For accomplishing the desired result in sadhana, one has to follow a disciplined and value-based lifestyle.

You must have realised by now that most of our physical and mental problems arise from the wrong lifestyle followed currently. In today’s world, we have all the physical comforts are at our fingertips. It is easy to lie down in the comfort of your soft bed, turn on the TV, switch on the air-conditioning, do online booking of your train or flight or movie tickets, order your favourite food from restaurants, without expending even the slightest energy. The increasing comforts ensure that our body does not get the physical exercise needed to remain fit. Nowadays, the work from home concept has made people lose the simple exercise they were bound to get while commuting from home to office, and back. The mind is constantly overworked with chaotic thoughts due to the influence of social media, news channels, etc. There is not a single moment when people are stress-free. As much as the body needs exercise, the mind needs to be still to keep fit and healthy. So, it is imperative to engage in the discipline of Pranayama and Yoga, prayerfully, with dedication and love towards the Creator.

Yoga will take you inward as well as rejuvenate and tone up the physical body. It will reduce the stress levels drastically, and will help the mind to become peaceful and efficient. Constant engagement with Yoga will teach us that the ultimate source of happiness and peace is in our own self. It enables us to bring about holistic changes in our eating habits and lifestyle, as also in our behaviour and attitude. In order to make progress in yoga it is necessary for the sadhaka to adhere to a sattvic diet, with pure and wholesome food. It paves the way towards a healthy, stress-free, happy and contented lifetime. So, adopt a holistic way of living by waking up at Brahma Muhurtha, and engaging yourself in Pranayama and Yoga.

With Love and Blessings, Guruji.

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