By Swami Shrutananda
Your mind specializes in repetitive thoughts focusing on negatives, worries and fears. Most of your thoughts are not new, innovative, creative, inspiring and uplifting. In fact, ninety to ninety-five percent of them are reruns! If that were happening on your TV, you would turn it off. Why don’t you do that with your mind? Oh, because you can’t! Your mind is like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps going and going and going.
The quality of what you are thinking completely imbues your mind. That becomes who you are. If you are feeling angry you say, “I am angry.” Not that you feel angry — but “I am angry. This is who I am.” This is called bondage. Your mind keeps you bound in a limited sense of self. You share this with others. “Hello, I am angry. Who are you? Oh, you’re sad. Hello, sad.”
Even creative thoughts keep you bound. The mind can create uplifting and beautiful things, including fine art, great music, stunning landscapes. The problem is that you follow your mind wherever it goes. You never look deeper within to the One who has a mind. So your experience is “I am my mind,” which is very limited, even when it’s creative. You have a mind, but you are not your mind. You are so much more.
You are vast, all encompassing, the One Reality in all that exists. You are Absolute Ever-Existent Beingness. To experience and to know this greater reality, you must transform your mind. Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras describes:
Tadaa hi viveka-nimnam kaivalya-praagbhaaram chittam.
— Yoga Sutra 4.26
Then the yogi’s mind is inclined towards discerning [the difference between mind and Self] and is heading toward liberation.
When you understand the difference between your mind and your Self, you are headed toward liberation. In meditation, I had the experience of the vastness of my being. I saw my mind as an orb, an object. I wondered, who is aware of my mind? Contemplating this question, I realized the “who” was my Own Self — the deepest dimension of my being. I realized that I have my mind and I am much much greater than my mind.
My mind can still ruminate over my likes and dislikes. It can get caught up in these thoughts. Yet I am now more aware when I am entangled in my mind. I understand that my mind is obscuring my state. Then I can step back into my Self.
I see the difference between my vast inner Beingness and universes created by my mind. Those universes are puny compared to the inner vastness and depth of my being.
It is your mind’s repetitive thoughts that keep you bound. To head your mind toward liberation you need to transform your mind. You will still have a mind, yet you will know the One who has a mind.
Doing your yoga poses and Ujjayi Pranayama transforms your mind from the outside-inward. Yet the easiest, most powerful and most effective practices are yoga’s Grace practices. Working from the inside-outward, they give you the inner experience of Self. This profound experience transforms your mind. This is the function of a Shaktipat Guru. Swami Nirmalananda (Gurudevi) is such a Guru.
Yoga’s Grace practices include receiving Shaktipat and repeating the enlivened mantra. Plus you spend time with the Guru or you simply keep her in your thoughts. These practices are powerful conduits of Grace. They reveal your Own Self to you when you are practicing.
When you repeat mantra for meditation, you invoke Grace, and your meditations are deep and easy. You explore the inner realms of your being. These inner experiences of Self transform your mind. Through this transformation, you come to know the difference between your own Self and your mind. Now your mind is drawn toward liberation more quickly and more easily.
You will have the deep and immediate experience of your own Self again and again. You can come to live in that state of freedom all the time — with your eyes closed and with your eyes open. This is a beautiful way to live.