See the effort in focusing the mind as an exercise, not an exertion
Suppose a person arriving at an airport finds that they don’t have any porter to carry their luggage from the carousal to the car. They may grumble and pant and heave as they lug their luggage along. But that same person may later go to a gym and eagerly lift weights. Earlier, they would have paid to get someone to lift weights for them; but they pay someone (the gym owners) to give them weights to lift. While the activity is essentially the same, the attitude is entirely different. Lifting a heavy bag in an airport – they see as an exertion. Lifting weights in a gym – they see as an exercise.
Whenever we need to do something that requires focusing our mind, we often tend to put it off. When we start practicing bhakti-yoga and do any activity that requires concentration such as studying scripture or mediating on sacred mantras, we may feel an instinctive reluctance to expend the energy necessary for such concentration. We may grumble and stumble our way through those activities, simply wanting them to get over so that we can do other, enjoyable activities.
Gita wisdom helps us understand that concentration of our mind on spiritual reality, specifically on the highest spiritual reality, Krishna, brings purification, elevation and satisfaction. It purifies our consciousness of the many worldly impression and impulses that keep us caught at the material level; it elevates our consciousness to the level of Krishna and thereby it provides the supreme satisfaction. Concentrating our mind on Krishna is thus a purposeful exercise, not a pointless exertion. The Bhagavad-gita (06.25) stresses that we need to use our intelligence, sustained by conviction, to slowly but surely focus our mind.
Though our mind may have a default negative attitude towards devotional activities, we can use our intelligence to cultivate the right attitude. The more we energize ourselves with a positive attitude while practicing bhakti-yoga, the more we will connect with Krishna through those activities, thereby relishing sublime, supreme fulfillment.
Just as doing a good workout helps us feel healthier, perkier, better, so too will the inner workout for focusing on Krishna help us feel more spiritually cheerful and joyful.
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