Science of the Mind
- Mind is like a lake; it constantly has thought waves. Swami Sivananda says that the mind havocs through the power of fluctuation. That I why the meditator endeavors to calm the thought waves down by concentration. A clear lake without waves is capable of giving you a true reflection of yourself (sattvic mind); a wavy lake distorts the reflection (rajasic mind); a muddy lake will not allow you to see clearly (tamasic mind).
- Mind is like a drunken monkey; it is very restless and jumpy. Swami Sivananda says that the mind has wandering habits. It wants variety. Thoughts are disorderly and random, without much continuity or focus. Know this and learn to keep the mind more focused.
- Mind is like a wild horse; it does not like to be tamed but likes to go its own way. Like a spoiled kid or a badly trained animal, the mind does not like to be trained and follows its own will, resisting all attempts to control it. Thus, one has to be gentle with the mind and slowly gain its trust to guide it in the right direction.
- Mind is like a shy lady; it likes to hide and not be seen. It is difficult to reveal the secrets of the mind, as it will not cooperate easily. However, when one is able to see it for what it is, the turbulent mind calms itself down.
- Mind is like a music record; it has grooves and habits. Everyone’s mind is conditioned specifically by previous experiences and habits. Sometimes, the record is scratched and bad tunes are played – as in the case of our repeated bad patterns – we need help sometimes to lift the needle and change the groove to a more positive habit.
- Mind is like a fast-spinning fan; it can move very fast and you cannot distinguish the thoughts, but the thoughts can harm you. This is why, in Yoga, we learn to slow down the thought waves through asanas, pranayama and self observation in order to switch the patterns of thought. This analogy also shows that the concentrated mind is very powerful; a concentrated person may appear to be doing nothing, and yet his mind is extremely active.
- Mind is related to body; that is why if you straighten your posture (asana), you straighten your mind. Asana practice is the best way to begin controlling the mind.
- Mind is related to the breath; that is why if you calm down your breath and control the prana (pranayama), you control the mind. The breath is like the wind that creates the waves on the lake; it is difficult to control the waves, but if there is no wind, there are no waves.
- Mind is related to the senses; controlling the senses will calm down the mind and controlling the mind can reduce the effect of the sensory stimulation that would agitate the mind. If the mind is kept focused, the senses will not operate, as the senses can not operate without the cooperation of the mind. The idea is that we are not victims to sensual influences and that we have ways to escape the allurements of the senses.
- Mind, although fast, can only think of one thought at a time;if you feel stressed out, simply do one thing at a time. This is an important idea as it helps us to understand what concentration is, and why we need to concentrate on a positive thought, like a mantra, in order to reduce stress and worry.
- Mind functions with names and forms; the mind itself is limited as it only functions along with words and images. This is why we use words or images to focus on; we understand that words and images are the limited way to express the reality that is beyond the grasp of the mind. This world as we know it is just the world of names and forms, and there is another reality beyond it. That reality can be experienced only when we go beyond the mind.
- The mind functions by association. We can use this associative tendency of the mind to eliminate unhelpful thoughts and accentuate helpful thoughts.
Yoga is the science of mind
It includes working with the three levels of our mind, the subconscious, the conscious and the super-conscious.
Yogis want to clear the subconscious (instincts and emotions), fully utilize the conscious (intellect) and develop the super-conscious (intuition).
You can understand how the mind works through yoga and meditation practice.