The mind is key to everything you do. Your success or failure is often a direct reflection of your state of mind. Mind that is focused has a boundless potential whereas a mind that’s disturbed cripples all possibilities. Calming a disturbed mind is, therefore, the key to achieving all that one intends to.
The only constant in this world is change itself. Millions of cells die, and millions are created regularly this body. Your mind constantly changes its perceptions, thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Yet neither the mind nor the body is efficient in adapting to all life’s inevitable changes, be those changes internal or external. Therefore, an ordinary mind is fearful of change when it comes to relationships, economics, politics or even home.
Mind that is driven by scientific temper seeks analysis and planning whereas the mind without the scientific temper seeks higher powers. Both type of minds often suffers – for there is no way to predict the future with precision. Expectation and desires of the mind are the reason for our pain. Given this, people often search for a realistic path where suffering is limited or completely absent.
Vedic philosophy is of that realism. This realism of Vedic knowledge, philosophy or thought isn’t about believing the reality of the physical world that is perceived by the senses and interpreted by the mind. Our sense organs don’t often see the complete picture, nor can the mind interpret things holistically. Our sense organs, as well as the mind, can easily be tricked by appearances. How do you think “magicians” make their living? We can have the sharpest mind, eyes, ears, nose, etc. and yet fail to explain the complex tricks performed by those magicians.
According to Vedic Rishis and Munis, the greater truth is that which we can neither feel nor see – only understand and realize. Yet that supreme truth or Paramartha is all pervading. According to them it’s in every being. It’s the source of creation as well as “destruction”. Destruction, according to these revered sages, is only another change. Nothing that we can see, or feel is eternal. Only the Paramartha or the ultimate truth is eternal.
Given we cannot see, smell, or hear this Ultimate Truth, how do they expect us to comprehend it? It’s only by following a code of conduct through our lives, be that professional or personal. This code of conduct is what defines the Dharma Shastras – texts on Dharma (righteous conduct).
There have been interpreters of Vedic knowledge calling the external world as “false”, “untruth” and “illusion”. This is because the Sanskrit word Maya is often subtly translated as illusion. Maya refers to outer appearances that must be interpreted correctly or they can deceive us.
Consider this: What’s is good or bad? Is that which appears to be good today can be good tomorrow? Is that relative good – good? According to the Vedic rishis and munis – good and bad are often relative to a weak mind. If a mind thinks it can or cannot control circumstances – that mind is verily weak. Such mind is prone to suffer – pleasure as well as pain. While pleasure of such mind is short lived – pain stays for longer duration.
There are a few signs to determine such minds:
- SEEKING EXTERNAL HELP: A mind that’s weak always seek external help, from people as well as supernatural beings.
- BLAMING: When a mind cannot provide a substantial reason for the result of its action – it tries to blame on external factors like luck, lack of grace or even wrath of the gods.
- DOMINATING: A weak mind is always concerned with dominating others. It tries to dominate almost everyone, emotionally and/or physically. That’s because it cannot accept losing something – it fears change.
- SCHEMING: A weak mind to protect or attain its object of desires schemes to attain or retain it. So those who hatch vicious plans aren’t the brightest of minds. Bright minds are wise minds – they understand that one must reap whatever one sows.
- LYING: Scheming can seldom happen without lying and deceit. Therefore, a mind that lies or deceives is verily a disturbed mind.
- CURSING: the only mind that has accepted wisdom can comprehend the fact that not everything is controllable. When a mind that is unaccepting of wisdom tries to control things and fails, it often retorts to cursing those who come in its way.
- DELUSIONAL: Mind that is disturbed is verily the mind that is engrossed by delusions. When we are born into this body we’ve nothing and when this body is gone all that is of this body too is gone. So why be sad, worry or brood over it? Besides a disturbed mind also disturbs others with its flawed understanding. Such minds are obsessed with getting others to believe in what they do. They even beg, borrow, steal or even kill to sell their version of “truth” which is nothing but delusion. Such a mind can seldom find peaceful sleep and often makes for troubled lives even if one achieves a position of influence and power.
Balancing a disturbed mind isn’t easy – but not impossible. The first thing you need to do is to find quality time for yourself and introspect. An inner sense of self, call it Atman or Conscience, is important. You need to know who you are and who you are not. Without a clear idea, you’ll always fall right into the trap of the deluded mind where only pain and misery prevail.
Here are a few simple practices to help you calm your mind when disturbed:
- BREATHE: No matter how disturbed your mind, watching your breathing pattern and making it steady can help you balance your mind. Deep inhaling and exhaling are therefore important when your mind is afflicted by any detrimental qualities like anger, hate, and envy. So always spend some time to learn and practice Pranayama (breathing exercises suggested in Ashtanga Yoga).
- DIET: What you eat has a direct effect on your mind and body. It’s therefore important to eat that is harmonious. In Ayurveda, the food is classified into three types, namely Sattvik (good), Rajasic (Middling) and Tamasic (bad).
- THOUGHTS: Thoughts have a direct impact on our actions, conscious as well as unconscious. Mind that is untamed induces thoughts that incite anger, envy and/or fear. It’s important therefore for you to understand your own true self and not confuse it with the mind. Every time you have a thought that induces negative feelings to know for sure that fear and hope are figments of your imagination. If you fear you cut yourself off from the path of happiness if you hope you cling to a bit of happiness. However, if you can curtail both fear and hope – you’ll enjoy only bliss. Detachment is the quality of the wise, who’ve achieved absolute peace.
- COMPANIONSHIP: Mind can be easily swayed by the company of people. Peer pressure shapes various tendencies in humans, good or bad. If your mind is feeling disturbed, dejected or let down, make sure it’s not because of the people around you who are draining your energies. In our competitive world, we cannot escape from people with negative tendencies, but we can certainly maintain a distance from them. So, choose your friends carefully. There’s nothing wrong in letting go of relationships that bring you only pain. Try having people around you who’re wise, who take pleasure in helping rather than letting other people down. The companionship of the wise is suggested to be key for attaining perpetual bliss in Vedic texts.
- ACTIVITIES: The mind has the ability to absorb emotions from the things we do for recreation. Music, books, movies, games, etc. play pivotal roles in shaping our subconscious minds. A mind can be disturbed also because of the emotions that your enjoyments generate. Try to listen to music that instills cheer, movies that project positivity, games about building meaningful things, books that reflect wisdom, etc.
The said five are only an outline to curtail the many negatives that can disturb the balance of mind. We’ve found that these simple considerations can prevent or remove most of our emotional problems in this competitive era. As soon as we find balance and peace in the mind it’s amazing how much bliss and accomplishment we can experience. “Even conquering the world brings no bliss comparable to what we experience when conquering our own mind.” Suggests Vedic sage Bhartrihari, in his revered work Neeti Shataka.