Self-Mastery: Controlling the Thoughts and the Mind | iHanuman


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Self-Mastery: Controlling the Thoughts and the Mind

For thousands and thousands of years the Yoga sages have observed and taught their students that the mind is by nature "outward-turning." That is, it tends to flit about from thought to thought capriciously and from subject to subject like a cork bouncing about in the open sea. The trouble with that is some places the mind bounces into are whirlpools of non-constructive thinking. And as you know, many thought patterns bring with them accompanying emotions -- some of which are disturbing and even debilitating.

Thus, Yoga sages encourage us to re-train our minds, to actually take control of our minds -- so "we" choose what thoughts the mind will focus on. This is self-mastery.

Probably the most effective tool for retraining the mind, for reversing its direction from naturally being outward-turning to naturally being inward-turning, is the practice of meditation. It's like training a horse; it's done in stages -- and gently. The first stage is concentration (dharana in Sanskrit). You focus the mind on one thing or sound or image - over and over again. And whenever the mind wanders off to another thought (and it surely will for some time) -- as soon as you notice that has occurred -- gently bring the mind back to focus on your object of concentration/meditation.

After some practice, the mind will stay on what you've asked it to stay thinking on. You can tell that has happened because 15-20 minutes go by and it seems like two or three minutes. This is meditation, dhyana -- unbroken flow of cognition from subject to object.

The final stage, samadhi or superconsciousness, is when the mind stays in meditation and it seems like subject and object have merged; there's a feeling of oneness with the object of meditation. For exampe, if you've been focusing on a rose -- then suddenly you feel "Hey, I am the rose; it's all rose. Wow, this is great!"

The only real practice or discipline is in the first stage, concentration, in which we consciously draw the mind back to refocus on the object we have chosen to meditate on. Stages two and three, meditation and samadhi, just naturally occur with time; you can't "practice" them. You just practice concentration.

Be patient with yourself.


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