Topic:   Peace
Author: Swami Sitaramananda   DATE: Mar 1, 2017   Comments: 0

How to Progress Towards Peace of Mind

Peace of mind is difficult to attain because our minds are always changing. We restlessly pursue happiness outside of ourselves, preoccupied with our own self-interests, egoistic ambitions and opinions. Caught up in this cycle of seeking fulfillment everywhere but within, we fail to perceive or remember our true nature, which is already Blissful and Perfect.

This human condition of striving to find peace externally is depicted in Vedanta philosophy as a condition of darkness and ignorance. Besides the theory of karma and reincarnation, which describes that we are here to learn from our mistakes and will repeat the same life lessons until we learn the correct way to think and to see ourselves, Vedanta philosophy, Yoga and Ayurveda offer us valuable guidance on how to progress towards peace of mind. The formula is simple and can be described as a way of working with the three gunas or qualities of nature: 1) break through the tamas; 2) calm down the rajas; and 3) nourish the sattwa.

What is tamas? Tamas is the energy of inertia and darkness, the ignorance and denial that make a person lethargic, unhappy, or discontented; complaining but failing to do anything to help themselves. It is the veiling nature of reality that prevents us from seeing the way to our salvation and happiness, and causes us to identify with our delusional projections of ourselves instead of our true selves. It is the energy of going DOWN.

 What is rajas? Rajas is the energy of action and passion, and of external projection. It singles out an aspect of life that the ego likes and goes towards it at the exclusion of everything else. This lack of capacity to see the big picture is called egoism. When rajas dominates reality is broken into pieces; the person under the influence of rajas will project an idea of happiness outside of his or her Self and then run after it. The energy of Rajas is going OUTWARD. Rajas creates desires, restlessness, diversities, competitiveness and conflicts.

What is sattwa? Sattwa is the energy of purity, balance, harmony, knowledge, and wisdom. It is the revealing aspect of reality with which one is able to see clearly, penetrating to the true picture of reality. In sattwa, there is no pain and suffering from desires fulfilled or unfulfilled. The sattvic person is open to listen to God’s will and to let go of the ego. This person will practice selflessness, devotion, control of mind and senses, and will meditate on the true nature of the Self and of reality. The ego does not have much pull over a sattvic mind. It is the energy of going INWARD AND UPWARD that brings us ultimately to peace of mind.

These three gunas or qualities of nature, exist in our bodies and minds, and in order to bring ourselves to greater awareness we can follow the yogic guidelines as a formula for bringing them back into balance.

1. We should wake up tamas by meaningful activities such as regular exercise, taking yoga classes and regular exposure to satsang (spiritual discourses), as well as attending short yoga retreats where one can engage in selfless service, or Karma Yoga. Meeting with spiritual people and teachers will also help one to awaken from inertia. Begin to pay attention to and care about diet, reduce the number of hours of sleep, reduce numbing activities such as watching TV, playing video games, spending hours on the internet, or chit-chatting or backbiting with friends. Immediately cease activities such as taking drugs, smoking marijuana, consuming alcohol, eating meat and fast food products, and watching movies based on sexuality and violence. Become more responsible in your relationships. Avoid dependency. Become more aware of expenditures, start to restrain from over-consuming, buying gadgets for pleasures and comfort, or anything that promotes fast and easy gratification. Instead connect with Nature. This will make you feel more grounded and comfortable in your Self.

2. Pacify rajas. Rajas is outwardly-directed and self-centered action; it is manifested as a restlessness of the mind which has difficulty calming down and turning inward. To tame it, the self-motivated, egoistic and passionate sensual activities need to be reduced. We can pacify this energy by learning to become more selfless in our actions and in our hearts–by practicing selfless activities, volunteering for meaningful causes, giving to charity, and beginning to think of others and develop compassion. To counter the outward energy of rajas and help channel emotional energy upward, we can also take part in devotional activities that will calm down the ego by acknowledging the presence of God. Devotional energy will pacify the needy, emotional mind and purify the heart. Improving your relationship with the Divine will improve your relationship with yourself. Learn to concentrate and reduce activities, leading a simple, pared-down life. This gives the mind focus and allows it some peace. Learn to live in the moment by not planning too far in advance for the future or worrying about the past. Start to question and examine your own motives and learn to discriminate between that which is lasting and truly important, and that which is illusory or a construct of your own imagination. Practice contentment. Building a healthy, yogic lifestyle will calm rajas; so eat a simple vegetarian diet free of stimulating foods and regulate your activities with a daily routine instead of engaging in chaotic or spontaneous activities based on impulses. As the mind and intellect become directed towards community service and the common good instead of ideas of “me” and “mine,” you will become more calm and focused, able to channel your energy more effectively and bring greater harmony to yourself and others.

3. Increase and nurture sattwa: At the time when rajas is more or less calmed down and peace and purity start to dawn, the yoga practitioner doesn’t stop there, but continues practicing the inner discipline of yoga and meditation, carrying on leading a contented, meaningful, peaceful and simple life based on devotion to the greater Truth. He or she is stabilizing everything and fine-tuning his or her awareness. She will experience less and less ups and downs, and gain increasing compassion and pure love for all beings. Selflessness becomes her natural way of being. She no longer experiences loneliness and neediness in relationships, and is naturally respectful, calm and correct in all situations. Yoga terms this as having “equal vision.” As awareness increases and consciousness expands, the practitioner experiences layers of bliss without seeking for it. Meditation happens by itself, as the mind is clear and free from disturbance by desires, ambitions or inner conflicts.

By practicing these three steps starting today, you will begin to fill your life and the lives of those around you with peace, joy, contentment, harmony, and balance. Swami Sivananda says, “A brilliant future is awaiting you!”

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