human being is blessed with a body, mind and soul. We know the body,
we know we have a mind, because we are able to put it to use and see it
in action, and we can feel the existence of a spirit or soul,
something that animates and gives life to the body-mind complex, enters
it at some point after conception and exists it, at death
mind which is deeply connected to our brain but is not the brain
alone, is a nebulous entity, known more by its actions than by its
physical presence. Science has not been able to demonstrate the anatomy
of the mind. With the mind, on the positive side, we think, we
introspect, calculate, rationalize, memorize, we study and learn, we
plan and execute, we discuss and argue, we form ideas and become
creative. Unfortunately, the mind is also the culprit for a lot of
negative thinking that happens in our lives.
The mind needs
to be sharpened and developed, as any other tool, for it to be highly
effective. The mind, however, seems to have a mind of its own, and
starts spinning stories, going to the past, jumping to the future, and
is responsible for a host of emotions that we feel through out the
day---happiness, joy, peace, harmony, satisfaction, and gratitude on
the positive side, and fear, anger, jealousy, worry, anxiety, grief,
guilt, shame, regret, remorse, resentments, depression and sorrow, on
the negative side.
in life, however, seems to be more powerful and a sort of default
setting, for us. Destruction is much faster than creation. It takes
years to build an edifice, and only days to tear it down. It takes a
long time to build our reputation and social standing, but one negative
act, and all the reputation is gone. It takes nine months for a baby
to be born, and many years for the baby to become an adult, and yet,
this life can be snuffed out in minutes, if that is the fate of that
person. A simple think like a haircut takes only a few minutes, but it
takes months to grow back that much hair. These examples are only given
to emphasize that the game of life is heavily loaded in favor of
negativity or destruction, and to be positive, to be creative, to
sustain, survive and grow on this planet, is no mean task.
mind, with its thoughts, is powerful beyond measure and beyond
imagination. Everything that we see around us was initially only a
thought in someone's mind. Whether it is the Taj Mahal, the Statue of
Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, a beautiful garden, the most modern rocket,
the wonders of telecommunication, or even a human being---all these
began with the mind and with a thought in someone's mind. Given that
thought is so powerful, should we not learn how to control the mind and
direct its thoughts for our good and for our benefit?
to control the mind, you need to use the mind. The mind has many
peculiarities. One, at a given time, it is capable only of one thought.
This thought needs to be replaced with another, sequentially. It
cannot think ten thoughts at once. Two, the mind is supposed to throw
up around sixty thousand thoughts daily, most of which are repeated
from yesterday, last week, last month or last year. Three, thoughts
are linked to emotions. A happy optimistic thought makes us feel good,
while a sad thought makes us feel miserable. Four--thoughts have a
profound effect on the chemicals, hormones and neuro-transmitters of
our body and the mind literally directs the body towards health or
disease, with its positivity or negativity, respectively. Five--the
mind itself is made up of a ten percent conscious mind, with which we
think and plan, and a ninety percent subconscious mind, which is a
highly reliable servant of the conscious mind and which runs a lot of
automatic processes in the body.
order to discipline and control the mind, we need to get to a quiet
place, close our eyes, shut out unwanted sounds, and sit quietly. Focus
on your breathing. As you do so, see the thoughts appearing one by
one. Don't do anything to the thoughts, don't become attached to them,
don't follow them to their logical conclusion. Just observe them. You
will see that they come in large numbers, one after the other. Let them
come. You focus on your breathing.
you sit silently, if you were to focus on all the sounds around you,
you will (to your surprise) realize that there are so many sounds which
you never notice normally, since your attention is not on them. Keep
listening to the sounds, and then slowly shift your attention to the
breathing. The sounds will become less. Again go back to the sounds.
When you do that, your breathing awareness will become less. If you
don't focus on both---sounds or breathing--the mind will start throwing
thoughts. If you focus on these, you will lose touch with the sounds
and with breathing.
this exercise shows us is that one needs to be extremely aware, in
order to focus the mind or control it. Mind focus is like holding a
bulky torch with oily hands. Its very slippery. You have to be very
alert as you focus this torch on the areas you want to. If you lose
attention or focus for even one minute, the torch slips out of the oily
hand, and falls into an abyss of darkness, and you are also plunged
into the darkness of the mind.
this exercise daily twice or thrice. Slowly, you will improve your
focus and concentration and will be able to direct the mind to the
sounds or breathing at will, and will be able to keep away from the
thousand thoughts that the mind is throwing at you. Hold the torch of
focus alertly and tightly, or you will be plunged into darkness.
Focusing and Controlling the mind
Reviewed by Atul Chavan