The stronger the hold of problems on our mind, the weaker becomes our hold on ourselves

Suppose we see a friend getting rattled when facing problems. We may tell them, “Get a hold on yourself.” 

This common usage suggests that we have two parts within us: a part that gets shaken and a part that can steady the shaken part. Pointing to this inner dual dynamic, the Bhagavad-gita urges us to elevate ourselves with our mind, not degrade ourselves (06.05). That is, we as souls need to get a hold on our excitable mind.

What makes the mind excitable? The mind takes in stimuli from the outer world, combines them with its own imagination and comes up with myriad emotional reactions. If those stimuli are about a threatening problem, the mind starts obsessing over that problem. Sometimes, the problem seems to get a stranglehold on our mind, fueling fear-filled fantasies.  

How can we break the problem’s hold on our mind? By reminding ourselves that we are souls different from our mind. By situating ourselves as detached observers, we can observe both the situation and the mind’s over-reaction. We are meant to be like a parent who calms the child-like mind. But sometimes the mind agitates us instead of being calmed by us. 

Suppose a threat is so great that it agitates not just the child but also the parent. Then the parent needs to turn to the police who will calm the parent, who in turn can calm the child. Similarly, we need to turn toward the Supreme, Krishna. When we learn to hold on to him by practicing bhakti-yoga, we can get a better hold on our mind. Gradually, the mind learns to stay calm amid worldly dualities such as heat-cold, pleasure-pain and honor-dishonor (06.07). 

When we thus strengthen ourselves spiritually, we can discern how best to deal with problems. 

Think it over:

  • What is the dual dynamic within us?
  • How can we break a problem’s hold on our mind?
  • How can bhakti-yoga help us deal with problems? 

***

06.05 One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.

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4 Comments

  1. This is very true, but sometimes so difficult to remember to put into action in our lives during times of high stress when we get ‘caught up’ in events. We just have to keep coming back to this basic truth and reapplying it each time in new situations. Many thanks for posting this. Hare Krishna.

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    • Thanks for your comment – yes, we can’t avoid getting caught given the pace of our lives, but we need to give ourselves some breaks so that we can reorient ourselves.

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  2. Thanks for the advice… I really needed it… Sometimes I get much pressurized because of exams and that’s why I fail to do well. That are the times when I think that God is not with me

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