Brain is perhaps the most underestimated organ of our body and mind is the least understood. This is due to the fact that the neurological studies and scientific experimentation are based on animals in which brain is primitive and mind is rather rudimentary. Human brain is unique, functionally complex and with its billions of neurons (nerve cells) and synapses, has unlimited processing capacity.
Brain is sometimes compared with a computer. Although it may be like a computer, there is no computer like the human brain. Computers are digital and have to be fed information sequentially, whereas human brain receives information from the sense organs, all at the same time and processes them simultaneously. Moreover, brain converts all conscious information into pictures and images and retrieves it from the memory in that form. Efficiency of human brain is so great that only 10-15 per cent of its capacity is ever utilized by an average person. No wonder, most of our brain remains dormant, waiting to be activated.
Transcendentalmeditationmeans going beyond thinking stage of mind. When thoughts cease to exist in mind, consciousness still remains and mind moves inwards to explore and awaken the dormant areas of brain. Body ceases to be aware of outside world.
Medical science considers mind as a manifestation of brain. But mind is subtle and not confined to the head. Intelligence pervades all over the body, inside each organ and cell. Activity in each cell is governed by its own intelligence. Malfunction of an organ is therefore due to the failure of mind. Brain gets its input through five senses and is outward in action, whereas mind works inwards and is creative and innovative.
All past experiences are rooted in the subconscious memory and influence our behavior and psychology. These are called Sanskaras or imprinted memory. While the brain memory is short-1ived and is concerned with chronological and biological events, mind memory is permanent. But to retrieve information from it, there has to be a complete cessation of movement in the entire field of mind. Subconscious memory remains dormant, under suspended animation and needs stimulation and complete control over mind. One needs a yogic mind to gain access to this fathomless storehouse of knowledge and psychic power.
Yogic mind building is no cakewalk. It requires determination and constant practice. Mind is like a monkey. It is never satisfied with the objects in its possession but tries to grab what it does not have. This wandering habit of mind is detrimental to its own creative and spiritual growth. As Shri Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagvad Gita, “O, mighty armed, the mind is hard to curb and is restless, but it can be controlled by constant practice and dispassion.” Mind is like a wild horse. If you grab it by the tail, it will drag you to doom. A yogi holds it by the reins of meditation and guides it at will. Mind control is thus a prerequisite to achieve anything in life.
Mind connects us with the whole external world. Senses themselves do not enjoy pleasures but are merely instruments to create particular kind of impulse patterns in the pleasure centers of brain. It is the mind which hears, sees and smells. We all know that many a time when the mind is deeply absorbed, we fail to hear or see if somebody calls us. Enjoyment is a state of mind, nothing but a kind of impulse pattern in brain and a state of temporary peace that mind has gained from the state of restlessness through physical senses. Since enjoyment is simply a state of mind, a yogi can bring his mind to this state by creating similar impulses through mind control.
Freeing Mind of desires: All our actions small or large are directed at bringing the restless mind to a state of peace. For instance, if a book has fallen from the table to the floor, a state of restlessness is created in the mind, because the mind is accustomed to the fact that the place of the book is on the table and not on the floor. Restlessness gives birth to desires to change things according to our own mental image.
The mind will continue to remain restless unless the book is kept back on the table. Each mind carries its own illusions about the way things should stand around us. Any disturbance in that order and a desire to correct it makes the mind restless. We get peace and enjoyment when that order is restored. This continued restlessness is the source of all desires and physical and mental problems. A yogic mind is elastic and far removed from such illusionary impressions that we call Maya, and therefore remains in a state of peace.
As desires make the mind restless, no creative ideas are possible. Ideas arise in the mind like bubbles rising from the bottom of a water tank. We collect them at the surface and do not delve deeper to reach their source. A yogi works by destruction of desires and control of senses and dives deeper into the subconscious mind which happens to be the ultimate source of all creativity.
Doors to the subconscious brain open when mind is at complete stillness. Suppression of desires and meditation are extremely difficult to practice simultaneously for a beginner. Here one can follow Acharya Rajneesh’s philosophy that to begin with one should fulfill one’s physical needs and come back to meditation again and again with determination. Meditation is a great desire-killer and as you progress along with your sadhana, mind will stabilize and desires will vanish by themselves. Then, there will be no need to suppress the desires as they will not arise by themselves, making meditation an easy routine.
Natural tendency of the mind is to wander outwards. In order to control it, one has to bring it backwards and inwards. The mind can be controlled either by continuously thinking of one thing or not thinking anything at all. Mind dislikes one-pointedness as well as vacuum. It resists subjugation violently. It is, therefore, necessary to proceed gradually, steadily and firmly to attain one’s goal, using a technique that suits one’s temperament most.
Mind Control through Pranayama:Prana is bio-energy in our body and part of the mind. If prana is controlled, the mind becomes quiet. Also it is a great purifying process. Controlled breathing purifies blood and nerves (Nadi-suddhi). It oxygenates the brain and nerve tissues and steadies the mind, sharpens memory, strengthens intellect and removes diseases. Mastery over prana is a must to tap the bio-energy required for mind control.
An average adult breathes 16-18 times in a minute but breathing is shallow and does not aerate the deeper air-pockets of lungs. The aim of pranayama is to bring down the respiratory “rate to 4 cycles per minute. There are various forms of pranayama. The one described below is easier and effective. It involves sitting in a comfortable posture (sukhasana or padmasana), inhaling through the left nostril closing the right one with a finger (Puraka), retaining breath (Kumbhaka) and exhaling slowly through the right nostril (Rechaka). There should be a pause between rechaka and the next puraka.
The next cycle should begin with the right nostril open. The ratio of inhalation, retention and exhalation should be 1:4:2, that is, if puraka has taken 4 seconds, kumbhaka should take 16 seconds and rechaka 8 seconds. Pranayama can also be done with both nostrils open. Gradually, the period of Kumbhaka should be increased according to one’s capacity, as it is this stage which is more important for the conquest of mind. If strain is felt breathe normally for sometime and start again. It is dangerous to hold breath beyond one’s capacity in which case exhalation would be forced and could damage the lungs.
Rhythmic breathing of pranayama makes all molecules in the body move rhythmically. It generates rhythmic impulses in the vagus nerve which makes mind control easier. Purity of thoughts and psychic experiences can be felt in about three months’ practice. Try pranayama when you have a mild headache and experience quick relief. Prolonged practice eventually leads to a habitual pranic breathing all the time. Such people are not longer slaves of desires and bad habits. They also gain control over the involuntary functions of the body.
Diet control is extremely important before commencing with meditation and pranayama. Nadi-suddhi will be of no use if one’s diet contains nerve stimulants. Spicy and non-vegetarian foods excite brain cells and make mind control extremely difficult.
Mind Control through Taratak:Taratak is done by fixing gaze on a small point about 2 meters away at eye level without batting eyelids. When image is stabilized in the brain, mind quietens, gives up contact with the senses and becomes non-existent. Effects of meditation and hypnotic capabilities are achieved. Taratak prepares mind for higher meditation. It infuses force in the speech and makes one’s disposition charismatic. Moreover, taratak is an excellent exercise for the eye muscles. Profuse lacrymation washes the eyes of all dirt and makes them sparkling and penetrating.
Mind-Body Relaxation through Shavasana:Shavasana literally means lying supine on the floor like a corpse. Legs should be apart by about one foot, hands away from the body by six inches and eyes closed. All body muscles should be completely relaxed. Commence checking from the toe upward that each muscle is really relaxed. Breathing should be slow, deep and uniform. Mind should be left entirely free and no thought however provoking should be entertained.
This would lead to profound inner peace, slow down the pulse rate and heart beat. Blood pressure will come down within 15 minutes to half an hour. It is a miraculous remedy for people having high blood pressure. Shavasana strengthens the intellect and helps the mind correct body malfunctions. If practiced before sleeping, it may lead to Yogic sleep in which the subconscious mind concentrates and solves difficult problems and you wake up in the morning completely rejuvenated and refreshed.
Mind Purification through Autosuggestion: Autosuggestion helps combating bad sanskaras which lie deeply embedded in the subconscious and are reflected in emotions and habits. Autosuggestion means suggesting to the brain one thing repeatedly. Recital of mantras or God’s name and all religious rituals are kinds of autosuggestion aimed at purifying the mind. They leave an impression on the mind even if done without faith or attention.
The idea ultimately manages to get entry into the subconscious and is expressed in day to day activities and habits. It is analogous to our repeated seeing and hearing of various advertisements albeit without paying much attention. But eventually we find ourselves buying the same products which are advertised most. A yogi purifies his mind by removing all evil thoughts from the subconscious by resorting to autosuggestion. If practiced in groups and at a fixed time, it is much more effective and shows results in a short time. Students can build up self-confidence by practicing autosuggestion for 5 minutes twice a day when they should suggest to their mind that they possess great potential and capabilities.
Mind Purification through Meditation: Meditation stills the mind, removes distractions and produces tranquility. It is the most important food for the soul and a tonic as well as necessary exercise for the mind: It infuses spiritual strength, quietens the conscious mind and excites the dormant subconscious to unfold its hidden intellectual and spiritual treasures. Meditation can be done either by focusing attention on one point or by transcending out of the range of thoughts. Either way mind starts unfolding itself.
Dharna and Dhyana (Thought Control and Concentration): Dharana and dhyana are best done in the early hours of the day. Sit in a comfortable posture (padmasa, siddhasana or sukhasana) facing north or east. Breathe slowly and effortlessly in the cycle of pranayama as described earlier. Close the eyes and fix attention between the eyebrows (Ajna chakra) or on mooldhara chakra at the base of spinal cord. Remove all thoughts from the mind. In the beginning, fixing the mind at one point is difficult. It becomes restless and violent. Weird thoughts which otherwise do not come to the mind try to enter it.
The enemy within resists subjugation. There is no point using force. They will come back with increased frequency and doubled intensity. It is better to be indifferent. Do not identify yourself with the thoughts. Simply watch them enter and go out and laugh at them. They will gradually die out. For believers it is easier to fix attention on the image of a deity or a symbol of faith at Ajna chakra.
Conscious mind will gradually become quiet and subconscious mind will take over to emerge at its creative best. After sustained practice, a yellow light will begin to appear at Ajna chakra which will grow larger as the intensity of meditation increases. Awareness of one’s existence is lost. Only the mind remains. This is a state of bliss and supreme enjoyment to which a seeker would want to return again and again. Mind will reach the superconscious state when it will have control over the subconscious. As the creative awareness heightens, solutions to difficult problems become easy.
Transcendental meditation literally means beyond thinking. This Vedic philosophy is based on the belief that there is consciousness beyond the level of thinking. If all thoughts are removed, mind will have a natural tendency to sink towards the source of all consciousness. Rajayogis try to control mind by removing all thoughts and by creating a vacuum. Mind abhors vacuum and therefore thoughts would try to force entry. It is better to be indifferent and repeatedly say ‘NO’ to the incoming thoughts.
It is useful to recite a mantra or Om and return to the thoughtlessness at each recital. Gradually, lesser and lesser thoughts will enter the mind bringing it to the alpha state of 14 cycles per second. Now, the mind having nothing to do will sink inward towards the subconscious, which is the fathomless ocean of knowledge and creativity. A beginner will find himself in this state in flashes of a second or two. If a thought is introduced at this stage, it is immediately realized, which is called a siddhi. For instance, levitation from the ground is a common siddhi. As this state is prolonged, the seeker gets spiritual pleasure and periods of bliss and serenity. Meditating for a period of 20 minutes in the morning and evening is enough in the beginning.
Transcendental meditation (TM) can be done at any free time, sitting on the chair, traveling or just before going to sleep. It is a first class remedy for insomnia. Sleep is immediately triggered as mind becomes thoughtless. This is called the “Yogic sleep” in which the subconscious mind works on innovative ideas. TM has practical application in stress management and to increase efficiency. It is a boon for those engaged in strenuous work. It only needs to be discovered and practiced.