Saturday, March 30, 2019

Understanding Meditation - 3 THE RESTLESS MIND

Forgetting to merge one's attention/ awareness with external things is the very first step in spirituality, for we can remember the Infinite only to the extent that we have forgotten everything else.
- Aghora.

The feedback on my two blogs on Understanding meditation Part 1 and Part 2,  is that although one understood and appreciated the ideas in theory, they still find it difficult to meditate owing to the restless mind and invading thoughts. So in this blog we deal with - mind and thoughts.

In this world, to get something we have to pay a price. For a student to get a Master's degree, he/she has to pay the price of hardworking and dedicated studies through his schooling and college days. For a sportsman to win a medal, he has to pay the price of dedicated efforts, discipline and practice to be able to reach the level which enables him to win a medal. And so it is for every endeavor in this world, be it artistic, business, scientific and even Spiritual.

For humans to achieve spiritual heights of self-awareness, one has to pay the price of purifying and stilling the mind. Most seekers read books of Masters and encouraged by what they read, they undertake spiritual practices hoping to achieve quickly the same experiences that the master may have described in their books. When such experiences are not received after some time of efforts, most seekers lose heart and are willing to give up forever. 

Spiritual Realization consists of 2 parts. Just like a child has to study through the years, even from kindergarten, to receive a Masters degree, so also a seeker has to first discipline the mind long enough to purify and still it. Then comes the second part of the spiritual world opening up to us through which we have to journey through greater heights. But between this first and second part there is a large portion of void. One may have worked on the mind to purify it long enough, but the spiritual dimension opens at a time unknown. This is like the Mother hen sitting on the egg to warm it and hatch it. She sits patiently waiting for the process to fructify at the right time, when one day - lo and behold the egg hatches! The same is the adventure in the spiritual world. It is a play of patience and perseverance. But it all begins with undertaking spiritual disciplines like meditation and Japa, to purify the Mind!


The mind is a powerful tool, one that can lead a human to deeper understanding of various subjects and hence lead him to success of all kinds. But the mind also has its own nature; it thrives in restlessness, it likes motion as against stillness. So it feels alive by entertaining a variety of thoughts or  emotions and feelings all the time. 

A human has a body, a mind and consciousness. Owing to ignorance, the Consciousness, our true reality, begins to think itself as a body with a personality. The mind feeds it with an individuality of persona - name, age, nationality, class, religion etc thus creating the pseudo personality called the Ego. Just as the human body is sustained by breath, the human ego is sustained by the mind. The mind can be seen as a powerful minister of the King Consciousness, who has taken control over the bodily kingdom and dominates everything - for life after life. 

The mind feeds the individuality of the ego through I-ness, selfishness, separation, desires and sense indulgence, keeping a human busy and enslaved from birth to death, never allowing him the space to realise his true identity as the Soul Consciousness. In feeding such ego-individuality, mostly through comparisons, the mind also causes many negative traits to develop within like - jealousy, anger, discontent, hatred etc, all are which are kept alive in the service of the ego. The incessant working and demands of the mind leads a person to subtle inner stress that he carries with him often without tangibly realising it. Every human seeks "peace of mind" for such stress.

The mind has programmed us to think that we should be 'doing' something always to validate our existence. Even when sitting in the most serene places, the mind can make us think many thoughts. Instead of 'Being' in the beauty, we are 'doing thinking.'

Why is sleep so rejuvenating, even healing? Its not that the body and limbs are rested. If a man is sitting on a chair or lying on the bed all day long, even then the body is rested, but he will not feel the peaceful effects of sleep. In sleep, the mind has gone into the sub-conscious mode... it is no longer active. This is what gives real rest. In sleep man does not carry with him the burden of identity such as name, age, class, nationality. religion etc etc. A sleeping being does not even know itself as a man or women. Baring the role of the subconscious mind in dreams; a sleeping being just IS! This is what creates rest. In such an environment the intelligent body,  is better able to self-heal the body of ailments, as the mind with its negativities cannot obstruct the process. 


So in light of the above, lets view meditation. Meditation is that inner laboratory of stillness where we invest our attention inwards to understand our nature. 

True Meditation is a state of Pure Awareness; the restless mind has been quietened. It is a process where we rest the mind consciously, and still are keenly Aware, unlike sleep where our awareness is passive. Think about this state, where the mind is quiet yet one is fully aware. It creates new possibilities which fructify into spiritual experiences.

Our wakeful state is marked by restlessness. In contrast our meditative world thrives in silence and stillness. When we create silence and stillness within us, it creates the perfect inner atmosphere to become acquainted with our true reality. The ego cannot thrive in such an environment, because the mind can no longer sustain it with thoughts. 

When the Consciousness becomes aware of its own reality, that is when magic begins to unfold in our inner life. The more a being becomes aware of itself as Consciousness, the higher such a Consciousness develops. This enables the person to transcend beyond our known reality towards higher dimensional realities. As this inner nature develops, the Being begins to uncover our inner pure joy, pure love, pure wisdom. It understands that all the joys that the mind made it search in the outer world, were a delusion; that all the joys he sought, always lay within. This is what Christ meant when he said - "the Kingdom of God is within!"

But when a person sits to meditate, the mind dislikes the idea and tries to hijack your attention with a variety of thoughts to control you. In my 2 decades of meditation I observed the 4 kinds of thoughts that the mind brings during meditation to distract our attention -

  1. Mediocre thoughts, which we wouldn't care to indulge in during our wakeful state, are presented during meditation as important for our attention.
  2. Important thoughts - which need our attention during the day.
  3. Thoughts that cause us anxiety and fears over matters of the future.
  4. Thoughts where we have failed, or concerning our duties, where the mind can control our attention by guilting us.

The mind will use any of the above to engage our Attention. Our Attention is a unique power. Where we put our attention decides what succeeds in our lives. 

When the mind is in an active state with thoughts, it can help us achieve success in the material world. When the same mind becomes still in silence, such mind, considered pure, can help us achieve the zenith of Spiritual realisation.


The mind can thrive only when you give your attention to its thoughts. Withdraw your attention and the mind will be quiet. This is not as easy as it sounds, because in most people, the mind is extremely powerful. It has Lorded over you through lifetimes and will not relinquish control easy. But it is not impossible either.

Its like your mobile phone. Just because you have one, you are not bound to picking every call that comes on your phone. You have the freedom to ignore, mute and even disconnect the calls you don't need and attend only those that are important. Similarly in meditation, you can mute your mind phone, not entertain thoughts and invest your attention to Being in Silent Stillness.

People always ask - What does one Do during meditation? 
There is a fundamental error in this question. The answer is simply - You don't "Do" anything during meditation. You "Be"! According to yogic science, Being is the highest form of doing, It is the highest Karm, the highest Kriya.  

However to achieve the state of pure stillness, Masters have given us disciplines such as pranayama, japa, mantra meditation which is a form of doing, but through which the mind becomes still rather than restless. More of this is discussed in Understanding Meditation - 2

So meditation is the right environment to practice that Being. How? Simply by creating pockets of silence between thoughts and being keenly Aware. 

Take a moment and think about it!

Creating pockets of silence between thoughts, and ensuring that these pockets keep increasing in time. You need not fight your thoughts or push them away, just do not acknowledge them. Do not feed them your attention. 

Some may find this hard still.

Please realise - the mind is only a tool, just like the eye, with which we see the world, is a tool.

The eye is so important. It enables you to see, to witness everything. You are reading this blog primarily with the help of the eye and then your mind is processing the information. But look how well you control the eye. Right now there are million things around you to see, but you have invested your eyes to reading this blog, ignoring everything else, thats how well you control it. The mind is a tool. You can control it the similar way by giving it attention only when you need it. When you don't need it, stop feeding it and BE! That is the secret of all saints. They use the mind only when needed. Else they dwell in their own inner Bliss.

Another Yogic secret to subdue the mind is the Breath. Try this - when your mind is restless, consciously and slowly take 3 deep breaths and let go of the breath completely. You will notice the mind go quieter then before.

One must practice persistently to reach such a stage. But it is possible. 

So next time you sit to meditate- 
  1. Begin by taking deep breaths and let go of the mind.
  2. Create pockets of silence and keenly dwell in BEING
  3. Make these pockets of silence larger over time.

Other factors that help subdue the mind is how you live your daily life. Your environment, the company you keep, the food your eat - not just through the mouth, but through the eyes and ears as well... All these fuel the mind. Controlling them will help control the mind. This is the reason Masters advocate simple and moderate, Sattvic living to those aspiring to meditate. 

It takes a good amount of time to bring about permanent changes in overcoming the mind. But know that it IS POSSIBLE! One of the greatest Yogi's of the 18th century Sri Sri Lahiri Mahasaya use to encourage his meditating disciples by saying "Banat banat ban jaye"  simply translated "Striving, striving, one day you achieve!"

(Images - Bahaduri Mahasaya, The levitating Saint, Autobiography of a Yogi & Image drawn by Pascal Campion)



  1. The words framed well, helped me understand things I always questioned about to myself.
    The restlessness of mind is apt, it is surprising or a sign from god to start getting me into meditation or sit in silence since I was going through a state of restless mind, including stress and weak memory and anger (again). We are so busy with material world, working to prove something to others that doesn’t even matter in real. And because of this distraction we are missing out on so much.
    Amazing example of phone comparing meditation, it becomes easy to know how to process with examples as such. You explained well on what meditation does, how it feels, what’s the purpose and almost every question one could come up with. Overall the read is good and also encourages me to start meditating or set time to sit in silence for minimum 5 mins to start with and observe my experience. I can’t thank you enough for writing this, even though I have read many such posts, no one could enlighten me the way this writing did.

  2. It's really a great and helpful piece of
    info. I'm glad that you shared this helpful info with us.
    Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you brother. As much as I would like to read more - something struck me about starting to put slowly into practice all that has already been given.
    I sincerely pray for your writings to inspire people around the world .

  4. Beautifully written 🙂... But not so easy to follow... Arjuna referred d same to Krishna in Gita... Anythg is possible but controlling the mind is the most difficult task... It pulls u with much more strength than evn the strength of 1000 elephants put together...

    Thanks for the motivational reminder... "Banat... Banat... Ban jaye...!!! "... Only this thing is in our hands... 🙏


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