Habitually the nature of our mind is full of thoughts, jumping from one idea to another. Sometimes its rapidity produces anxiety and this rhythm affects our capacity to rest. The Buddhists call this state “the monkey mind”. However, it is also possible to experience a relief from this river of thoughts and we feel serenity, fulfillment and a joyful abandon.
In essence the spiritual paths look to deepen the intensity of these brief moments of peace, and to achieve this the complete mastery of the mind is an essential factor. In this conquest we realize that the mind hides different kinds of thoughts within it and only with the application of certain techniques can we understand its nature, going beyond its movements and discovering our possibilities for transcendence.
The first stage of this conquest is to invite calmness into the mind. Indeed to achieve this objective we should apply meditational disciplines instrumental in attaining a heightened concentration. In the beginning, one of the most efficient techniques to slow down our mental rhythms is the practice of a conscious deep breathing accompanied with the observation of the inhalation and the exhalation of the breath. Utilizing this technique with perseverance and patience, the next step on this quest is to place our concentration ‘behind’ the mind, allocating the inner observer. From this perspective, we will advance to the last step that consists of observing our thoughts entering into and leaving our mind. With this last discipline we will be able to perceive the dynamics of the thought process and be able to start an inner analysis.
In this first stage we begin the process of a non-identification and detachment from the mind, owing to the fact that we have given too much importance and power to our thoughts. We have identified ourselves as mental beings and in this process we have clung to and entertained the contents of the mind as if they were the only reality, whether desirable or undesirable. However, with the state of a mental calmness and from the position of the inner observer, we can start a deeper investigation that purifies this identification, and reveals the difference between the mind and the inner Self, that is more free, wide, and peaceful. From the observer, we begin to see our duality and we will be capable of ascertaining and rejecting the thoughts that contradict the evolutionary process of our consciousness. The final objective in this stage will be to keep and reinforce the thoughts that are valuable and true.
In the second stage in the mastery of the mind, in order to obtain complete knowledge of the Self, it is necessary to achieve a complete stillness in the mental being. We should create a crystalline surface in our mind to be able to sense the inner quietude. The key in this process is to invoke our will and concentration to empty our mind of its contents. The idea is to guide our attention back to the source of the true nature of the Self, which is transcendence of thought. This practice was illustrated by the sage Ramana Maharishi, who proposed that we ask ourselves, as each thought arises, to whom does this thought belong. If we prevent our intellect from answering this question, we are guided like an arrow to the target at the center of our Being. In this state of identity with our inner Self we become aware of a profound peace, and will enter into contact with great oceans of silence and a Transcendental presence. In this way, we have opened the door to infinite possibilities of creation and the contact with the universal reality.
The third stage on this path consists of us being able to integrate these experiences in life, into our active being with our surface personality. As we return to the physical world we meet with the influx of the senses and our mind becomes flooded again. So we must learn the art of uniting our mind with our movements, the key is to maintain our attention in a one-pointed direction. This integration of mind in life by means of the concentration makes essentially the whole play of existence a potential meditation in action, a sacred movement. To train the Self to become one with life guides us to conquer our dispersion and prepares us to receive a Higher Conscious Force even during our activities.
In the ancient traditions, this was one of the arts practiced between a master and his/her disciples. This was one of the essential teachings that I received from my Master, Premananda Deva. The Master observes the disciple closely in action, to see if his/her mind is divided and dispersed. The aim of this training is to unite a silent mind with the outer action, and from this union hereby manifesting the inner Self with the outside world. Even without the presence of a Master advising us, we can invite the assistance of our inner Master that we all innately possess. In this challenge our inner guide will help us to maintain our concentration directing us towards unity and harmony in our activities. The consciousness of our Being and the unity with our actions will simplify our existence, and gives us a perspective where it is possible to discover a sacred meaning in all of life. This meaning awakens a delight and an inner happiness that flows out externally in our actions and relationships.
The calmness realized by the power of concentration and observation; the emptying of the mind and the transcendence achieved by the self-inquiry, and the integration in the world obtained with a united mind in action, are the three stages of the Path to convert the mind into a malleable instrument for the inner being. With this journey applied to each part of our nature (mind, heart and body) eventually we become capable of transforming ourselves as a complete ensemble at the service of a higher consciousness. Arriving at this point we no longer feel that we face an enemy within that produces anxiety and tension, the mind is no longer an obstacle on this path of continued evolution, now it has become our ally and with its help a freedom, the truth and a delight will flourish.