It seems nearly impossible to stop the restless monkey mind during meditation. Why? In part, because we are looking at the effect rather than the cause. Mental restlessness is generally initiated by restless emotions! If you want to calm an agitated mind, first see what emotions are triggering your thoughts. Start with the heart.

I practiced this principle in my meditation this morning. Instead of trying to quell my restless mind mentally, I simply observed the feelings in my heart. I quickly saw what was provoking my train of thought. I proceeded to physically relax the heart area, and then used a very simple pranayama (regular breathing) to further calm my heart center. It worked like magic—my mind immediately quieted down and became focused. Swami Kriyananda often told us that reason follows feeling.

The great masters open the heart first, knowing that the mind will follow. There is a beautiful example of this in the book Sometimes Brilliant. The author, Larry Brilliant, became a disciple of the great saint Neem Karoli Baba. At first repulsed by Maharaji, as he was called, Larry had a miraculous conversion and, following his guru’s instructions, went on to help eradicate smallpox in India.

His great awakening came during his first physical contact with the Master: “I began to shiver. The tingling intensity, rising up my spine like mercury in a thermometer. I could barely feel my fingers. . . . He opened his eyes wide and our gaze locked. Light seemed to pour out of him into me and I felt like I was being filled with love upon love. . . . When he saw that I was full, he broke the contact like nothing had happened, giggled, and tugged harder on my beard. . . . I felt loved like never before, completely understood, naked and unashamed. Tears streamed down my face.”

Likewise, Yogananda’s first experience of cosmic consciousness began in his heart center: “Master spoke caressively, comfortingly. His calm gaze was unfathomable. ‘Your heart’s desire shall be fulfilled.’ . . . He struck gently on my chest above the heart. My body became immovably rooted; breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage, and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore.”

how to still the mind for meditation

Learn to observe the feelings in your heart.

How can we expand our hearts, deepen our meditations, and become open to God’s love? Here are some simple suggestions:

  1. Learn to observe the feelings in your heart. Know that this is where restlessness starts, whether in meditation or in daily life.
  2. Catch your emotional reactions quickly! As with other skills, the more you practice this, the more adept you will become.
  3. First, shift your feelings into neutral, neither positive nor negative. The heart is the pivotal point from which the energy can flow in either an upward and expansive direction or a downward and contractive one. As in a car, you need to shift into neutral before you can move into forward or reverse. During my meditation, the relaxation and regular breathing shifted me into neutral, and from there I could redirect my energy upward.
  4. If you want deeper meditations, change from thinking to observing: Watch the breath, listen to AUM, feel the Kriya currents, or look into the light of the spiritual eye. The spiritual states we yearn for lie behind the fringe of the mind.
  5. Being able to control the reactive process imparts two huge benefits: the power to remain even-minded and cheerful, and the ability to choose to be happy in all situations.

Let us follow Swami Kriyananda’s advice in his song In the Temple of Isis”: “Still your heart if you want to pray. Send all cares far away.”

From the heart,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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25 Comments

  1. Thank you so much! Just what I needed to hear this morning! ❤️

  2. Thank you for this beautifully stated reminder!! It’s just what I needed today too! Blessings :)

  3. So beautiful to overflowing with practical wisdoms! Thank you from my heart, dear N. Jyotish!

  4. So beautiful 😇 My heart felt it and I’ll try it right now. Thank you dear Jyotish 💙

  5. Perfect heart-rendered counsel. Thank you. Perfect timing for me. Shared with our devotee students as part of our Ananda Lessons in Discipleship Class, in which HEART and DEVOTION are the keys to deepening and expanding our realization. Aum, np

  6. Thank you for this beautiful, centering reminder and for all your blogs. They have helped me through Covid and kept me centered. I feel your messages are directed to me personally, so reassuring and calming.

  7. Perfect inner management navigation to the destiny. The directions are clear precise and practical. Thank you 🙏🏼

  8. This was an extremely helpful piece for me. I’ve printed a copy for my meditation room. Thank you so much, Jyotish.

  9. Perfect Jyotish! Very helpful. Thank you for clear guidance on controlling the reactive process.

  10. Thank you, Jyotish. How did you know…? 🙂❤️

  11. Thank You! I shall try these invaluable points.
    May You & Devi attain Supreme Bliss of Nirvana
    Much love
    Om Sri Sai Ram!
    Grace 🪔🙏

  12. Thank You Joytishji ! I shall try these invaluable points.
    May You & Devi attain Supreme Bliss of Nirvana
    Much love
    Om Sri Sai Ram!
    Grace 🪔🙏

  13. This is exactly what I needed to hear today as I was dealing with an attachment to a pair of earrings which I thought may have been stolen. (I was staying at an airbnb lodging. )The heart is where all desires are stored according to Yogananda so I was dealing directly with the heart. However, my heart wouldn’t give up her clutching and grasping. She just wouldn’t let those earrings go until I finally surrendered and gave them to divine mother. When I got up only a few minutes later, my foot nudged against something under my bed; I bent over and looked; it was my earrings! I had a good laugh and thanked Divine Mother.

  14. Dear Jyotishji

    Thank you so much for the wonderful points, these are easy to apply in daily practice. Will remember to practice these principles. I needed these for my wandering mind, raising with emotions!

    Love
    Ilango

  15. Dear Jyothishji, Thankyou for sharing this. This is very helpful. I feel more relaxed and centered while in meditation. I shall practice this outside of meditation also. Thankyou 🙏

  16. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring blog. Very useful guidelines to practice.
    Will put in to practice right away

    Joy,
    Prem

  17. Thank you Jyothishji for your priceless tips.We at Ananda Chennai are all thrilled by this. I will start practising it with a new insight

  18. I too feel as if you were speaking to me directly from my heart’s need to be heard in joyful expansive release. Thank you, Jyotish

  19. Just the day when meetings were galore and reactions running high at the workplace with a new situation, I settled down to reading this beautiful blog. Perfect and beautiful ways to follow in meditation as well as day-to-day situations. Thanks to Ananda, sometimes I catch it timely but this guidance Ji is renewing the desire to set the gear on neutral more often- workwise and in sadhana following the tips. Love the line ‘The spiritual states we yearn for lie behind the fringe of the mind.’ :) and Swamiji’s song Isis … awww one can just melt away into Divine Mother’s lap listening to it.
    Thank you dearest Ji.

  20. Thank you, your words and advice are really helpful.

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