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April - May 2006
How to Control the Mind
What is it that everyone in this world desires? Whether someone is young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sick, what is it that everyone desires the most in this world? Peace. Why? Everyone wants inner peace and global peace. Very often, a question surfaces in our minds: Why are we peaceless? If we begin to answer this question, there can be many reasons why we experience sorrow and peacelessness. One of the factors is that the world we live in is full of problems and each individual faces countless problems during their lifetime. Every time we are confronted with difficulties, no matter how big or small they are, the mind starts to tick quite rapidly. Let’s call this ticking ‘negative thoughts’. Yes, the word negative is very common, but negative thoughts consist of hatred, jealousy and waste thinking patterns. So the more negative thoughts we create, the more peaceless we become. If we turn inwards for a few moments when there are negative thoughts racing in the mind, we see that they move so fast and sometimes, they seem to be uncontrollable. So, the more negative thoughts we create, the more we destroy our internal power and we find ourselves becoming weak internally. Just as someone who is weak physically cannot handle a little tap on their back and will experience it to be very painful, in the same way, when the mind becomes weak due to negative thinking, individuals may find themselves getting upset over many things, reacting quickly and getting hurt easily.
Sometimes a problem can be very tiny and yet by thinking about it so much, we make it into something huge. It’s like making a mountain out of a molehill. Not only are sorrow and peacelessness experienced due to negative thinking but depression also, one can feel sad and their mood becomes spoilt. In effect, negativity destroys the love, peace, hope and enthusiasm. A lot of the time, people think about the things that have happened in the past. Now there is a wise saying: ‘past is past, let it go’. But the mind still continues to hold on to the things of the past, whether they happened 10 years ago, 10 weeks ago, 10 days ago, 10 seconds ago or a second ago. There is a very nice children’s story: there was a crow sitting on a branch holding the branch very tightly and every time an animal passed by under the tree, the crow would call out to them and say ‘Please tell this branch to let me go, to let me go’. Now all the animals would look up at the crow and think ‘look at that branch, it is not letting the crow go’. Then a wise fox came along and said ‘Let go and you will be free’. In the same way, we also grip on to the things of the past and cry out in distress from time to time to become free from them. Really, it is only a question of letting go.
Negative thoughts can create a great deal of damage and loss to a person’s life. The quality of thoughts will be reflected in one’s words, attitudes, actions and interactions with others. And so, continuous negative thinking can result in the creation of a vicious cycle of sorrow and peacelessness. Sometimes, in a stage of desperation, a person will start looking for means to liberate themselves from different kinds of mental pain, physical pain or pain in the heart. When they go to see a doctor and complain about some physical sickness, he will see it as a consequence of too much worry. We can try different methods to free ourselves from the different kinds of pain but most can only offer peace temporarily.
The aim of
learning Raja Yoga Meditation is to become the master over my own thoughts,
words, actions and physical senses. The word ‘Raja’ means king
and the word ‘Yoga’ means union with the Supreme. We often say ‘My
mind thinks this, my mind feels this’, but we have no control over
it whatsoever. The mind is often described as a wild horse or a spoilt child.
Just think, if there is a mischievous child in a family who continues to
cause distress to everyone, the mother and father may beat him to make him
behave himself, then for a short time he will do what the parents say, perhaps
out of fear, but sooner or later the child will go back to his own ways.
On the other hand, if the mother sits the child down beside her and with
a lot of love explains to him how to behave, what he should do and what he
shouldn’t do then this love and the explanation of good behaviour will
help the child to transform. In the same way, every time there are negative
thoughts racing in the mind, just say ‘Shush, please mind be quiet,
don’t think bad thoughts, I don’t want to end up being sad or
depressed. Come on, let me think of something positive’. In this way
we are diverting the mind from thinking negative thoughts and setting the
mind on a positive track. The mind functions in such a way that it has to
think thoughts all the time. We cannot empty thoughts from the mind, nor
can we suppress thoughts in the mind and so, instead of allowing the mind
to think negative thoughts, we have to think positive thoughts. Thoughts
can be known as
‘food for the mind’. Raja yoga teaches us to train our mind so
that we can have full control over our thoughts. It enables us to become a
master, a king, and a ruler of our thoughts, words and actions.
Sometimes we complain and say that because of so-and-so or such a situation, we have become unhappy. We cannot change the world, people or situations that we encounter but we can change our attitude and thoughts. For example, if it is cold outside, we cannot say ‘Why are you here, cold?’ No, we would just put on a coat to protect ourselves. So in the same way, we have to have mercy on ourselves and create peace; both are in our own hands. We are responsible for creating peace and peacelessness within ourselves.