The Mind - Journey to the Self
“We are mind of the mind creator of thoughts”. What is mind of the mind? Well first let’s look at the mind.
When we look at our mind what do we see? Maybe we see the ego, maybe we see our conditioning, but nothing more than that. So, let’s look a little deeper. Let’s look at the layers of our mind. Each layer of our mind holds a key to our journey of evolution.
Let’s start with our first layer, the conscious mind. This conscious mind or lower mind is where our ego sits. It is how we view the world and our reaction to that. It is the conduit for all our other layers. For example, our instinctive reactions are played out via the ego or conscious mind, but they actually belong to the sub-subconscious mind or the mind of subliminal traits. The conscious mind is also the playground of the manas, the chatty mind. The part we listen to 24/7. We spend all of our time in this first layer of the mind on a constant treadmill of slavery to the ego, doing its bidding and being continually bound by the play of Maya (illusion of this earthly world). We create new Karma at every turn by never looking at our reactions let alone where they came from. If we stopped before we reacted and asked ourselves; will this reaction be good for me, is it what I need or want, we would be on a path to moving beyond the lower mind to the deeper parts of ourselves. To our very essence.
There is a wonderful analogy in Vedantic literature. The bowman has already sent an arrow and it has left his hands. He cannot recall it. He is about to shoot another arrow. The bundle of arrows in the quiver on his back is the sanchita karma, the sum total of all his Karma from all lifetimes; the arrow he has shot is prarabdha karma the karma that is bearing fruit or has been put into action in this lifetime. The arrow which he is about to shoot from his bow is Kriyamana, or the karma that he is creating. Of these, he has perfect control over the Kriyamana karma (your choice or freewill), as he must surely work out his prarabdha karma; the past which has begun to take effect he has to experience. The message here is to stop and think about what you are about to create with your thoughts, words and deeds. It is said if we are going to shoot an arrow we must learn to be a very good shot and aim our arrows correctly.
Our mind is a complex minefield, with many stumbling blocks and hurdles to negotiate if we are to lessen the karmic implications.
First, we must look at our instinctive reactions or Samskaras. What are yours? Stop and think of some recent events and your reactions to them. Did you respond in the same way and have the same reaction? Do you constantly go around the treadmill acting and reacting the same way? I hope you weren’t expecting a different outcome. It is the case for all of us, we get caught up in the physical world or this play of Maya and before we know it there are so many arrows being fired we can no longer see clearly. We will always have experiences, that is what we came to do. These experiences help us to grow and work out this prarabdha karma, but our reactions need to be refined or matured. How can we ever be discerning and use our Buddhi (discerning faculty) correctly if we never stop to think and keep reacting instinctively?
Once you have looked at your reactions and have an awareness of them it will be easier to change them. It will be easier to stop and take control and react differently. We have been given the free will to act and react any way we want. We need to use this free will to stop, think and then act. It takes courage and steadfastness to stop before firing, but the more we practice the better we will become. Another way of lessening the impact of this ego and these samskaras is to participate in a yoga class that has a dedicated yoga Nidra component. Yoga Nidra is the easiest way to allow these samskaras to be overcome. Withdrawing the senses from the outside world (pratyahara) and reaching into the inner mind will allow the subconscious to teach the conscious a different way through the minefield. This will take practice as our ego will want to keep control and keep us attached to this physical world. Fear will play a big part of this. Our ego will throw fear into our conscious mind and stop us from letting go and surrendering to the process. Have you ever noticed the impact your ego has had on you in the past?
I have an amazing story of a woman who came to my Bali retreat. The participants were in a meditation workshop and meditating happily. Quite suddenly one woman got up and looked quite distressed. I took her for a walk eager to calm her and find out what the problem was. She told me that during the meditation she thought she was having a stroke and was convinced she was going to die in Bali away from her family. As 30 minutes or so had elapsed I assured her if she was having a stroke she would be unconscious by now and on her way to hospital. We walked and talked for about 45 minutes until she finally had the realisation that it was her egos drive and determination to keep her from meditating that was causing the negative reaction. Our ego will do extraordinary things, mainly negative to keep us from going within. I am pleased to say she is quite well and was a changed woman on the retreat after that experience. She bought new clothes and had a new attitude to life. It was wonderful to witness the positive effects that maturing the ego and letting go of its merciless control can have. The next time you are in yoga Nidra really let go, assure your ego you are safe and enjoy the experience of transcending the conscious mind.
Remember, the mind will happily go on it’s negative way if we don’t, at some point, stop and say “I have had enough. I want something better. I don’t want to keep acting this way”. It is then that the real mind changes will come into action.
Once we allow ourselves access to the deeper recesses of the mind, we will overcome the ego, our conditioning and our samskaras. Then we will be free to really begin the journey to the self.
Donna Jordan is a Yoga Australia Registered Senior Teacher and runs a 12 month Diploma of Yoga Teaching. Her passion, apart from learning is to teach and empower people from all different backgrounds to find their own Body, Mind and Spirit connection.