How to control the mind
You are asking the “million dollar” question! Entire books are written on this subject. Let me begin with a poem by Thayumanavar, a great saint of south India:
You can control a mad elephant;
You can shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger;
You can ride a lion;
You can play with the cobra;
By alchemy you can eke out your livelihood;
You can wander through the universe incognito;
You can make vassals of the gods;
You can be ever youthful;
You can walk on water and live in fire;
But control of the mind is better and more difficult.
Kesav, the key to the mind is the HEART! Paramhansa Yogananda put it this way: “Reason (meaning our thoughts) follows feeling!” If I WANT something, then I can find a dozen reasons WHY! If I live next door to a restaurant famous for its excellent curries but I am unwell or not hungry, the restaurant does me no good.
For starters, then, you have to WANT to quiet the mind. You cannot do this by force of will. When we say the HEART is key we refer to TWO fundamental aspects of how our mind and body work:
1. DESIRE/INTENTION. (SUBJECTIVE) When we sit to meditate it must be clear and heartfelt that we wish to quiet the mind and to know God’s indwelling presence (perhaps as peace; or joy, or love).
2. ENERGY/PRANA (OBJECTIVE) The greatest contribution to the science of mind (control) is in the form of “prana.” The most outward and visible manifestation of prana is found in the breath but this is ONLY the beginning. Thus methods of breath control (pranayama) are, when linked to intention/desire, the MOST effective means of quieting the mind. For as the breath and heart go, so goes also the mind. As the mind goes, so also the heart and breath. The two are inextricably linked. In Chapter 26 of the “Autobiography of a Yogi,” Paramhansa Yogananda states that “The ancient yogis discovered that the secret of cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with breath mastery. This is India’s unique and deathless contribution to the world’s treasury of knowledge.” You can read this book for free, in English, on our USA website: www.Ananda.org. Ananda’s reprint of the original edition of this now classic story can be found throughout India in good bookstores and at any Ananda center in India’s major cities. www.AnandaIndia.org
Thus, one needs an effective meditation technique AND one needs devotion. So much more could be said here but let’s just start with these two! The meditation technique for our modern times is clearly the Kriya Yoga technique that was given to us by Babaji to Lahiri Mahasaya in the Himalaya in 1861 and which was passed down and sent to the West in 1920 by Paramhansa Yogananda.
I wrote a series of blog articles on “Taming the Monkey Mind.” Go to www.Hrimananda.org and search on “monkey” There you will find a wealth of practical tips and ideas on this subject!