Let the mind be
Suppose we have to work with a colleague who tends to hyperventilate. Once they calm down, it’s possible to work with them and sometimes to even get some good ideas from them. However, if we let their behavior get to us, we can’t work effectively, especially because we are obliged to continue to work with them continuously.
That’s exactly our situation in our inner world. We have to work with our mind, which is often driven to act impulsively. These reactions tend to have two characteristics:
Excessive: Whenever anything seems to be going wrong, the mind starts getting too worked up, imagining problems to be far bigger than what it is.
Irritative: The mind also tends to become irritated over small things, thereby leaving us far more agitated than we need to.
Gita wisdom explains that we are different from our mind, that we are spiritual beings who have a mind that tends to overreact, because it is often restless and relentless (Bhagavad-gita 06.34). Whenever we find ourselves reacting impulsively to anything untoward, we can ask ourselves: “If someone I care about were reacting this way to such an event, what would I say? How would I guide them to calm down?”
If we learn to find something purposeful to hold on to, then we will be able to better tolerate the mind’s hyper-reactions, just as if we are working on something important, we will neglect our colleague’s distractions. Gita wisdom provides us that firm anchor by revealing how we all have a spiritual purpose that provides intrinsic dignity and enduring value to our existence and endeavors. When we focus on that purpose, our mind’s shenanigans become more tolerable.
For every action, the mind has an excessive and irritative reaction — let the mind go through its phases, while staying fixed on our purposes.
Think it over:
- What are the characteristics of the mind?
- When have you experienced the mind’s over-reactions?
- What can you hold on to by which we can neglect the mind’s over-reactions?
06.34: The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.