Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First Steps in Peace of Mind

I just received an email from Swami Sitaramanada from the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm. I loved her article so much about peace of mind, I decided to share it with you all... 
"One has to understand how the mind works. Like a pendulum, it swings between likes and dislikes. When the mind is in this mode you say, I like this and I am on top of the world, then I dislike this and everything is terrible.
You like and you dislike, back and forth. As the mind swings between likes and dislikes, the emotions also swing between extremes. Understanding this is the key to understanding the mind. As the mind swings, you become unhappy. In other words, what makes you unhappy is your own likes and dislikes and your own lack of stability of mind or peace of mind. 
One of the guiding principles of yoga life is that you do what is needed, regardless of whether you like it or not. You do not just do things you like and avoid the things you do not like. We do not allow that. If you continue to only do what you like and avoid what you do not like, this encourages the tendency of the mind to swing and you become caught in the pendulum. I like this person, I dislike that person, I am only going to hang out with her, I am not going to talk to him, I like this food, I dislike that food, and so forth. When the mind is allowed to do that it becomes weakened. It is weakened because it has been jumping. In order to work with the mind, one has to decrease its swinging. Instead, tell yourself, It’s ok, I really don’t like this too much, but it will be fine. Or, It’s ok, I like this and I am not going to have it, and it will be fine. When you do this you are training the mind to be strong.
Do not dwell on the bad things, do not hate them so much. Know that if you do, your mind will swing into the opposite and begin liking something too much. Similarly, if you are going to dwell on liking something, you will then swing into disliking something too much. That’s where addiction comes in. The addictive mind is very much like this – constantly swinging between ups and downs, reacting based on its past experience of likes and dislikes. To stop the addiction, you have to stop reacting to the preferences and aversions of the mind. You begin to stay steady and swing less, and eventually the mind stays stable in the middle; your happiness is no longer predicated on getting what you like and avoiding what you dislike. In this way your mind becomes independent from external objects.
You begin to focus instead on the subject, on who you are and the happiness, stability, and perfection within you. Then you become free. This is why the yogis train the mind to remain steady, not allowing it to swing. If they like something, they will not allow themselves do it. If they dislike something, they will do it anyway. In this way, the mind becomes strong. If you train your mind like this, eventually you can no longer be bothered by external circumstances – weather, food, people, etc. You stay the same regardless, and at that time you become free."