By Lynn (Gurupremananda) Cattafi
Your mind is an amazing instrument. It is the window through which you perceive the world. Unfortunately, the world is a little crazy right now. With the pandemic and the USA political climate, we are experiencing more than our normal share of chaos. Even in peaceful times, studies have shown that the mind thinks more than 65,000 thoughts per day. Most are neither beneficial nor uplifting. They layer your mind with gunk. With external conditions that can stir your mind to fear, anguish and uncertainty, you may be trying to find some peace and joy amidst it all.
What if you could easily access a blissful, peaceful and clear space inside yourself? You can! It’s there, right inside you, closer than your own breath, deeper than your thoughts. Yoga calls this deeper dimension within, “Self.” When you use the tools of this meditative tradition to turn your focus inward, you experience your own Self. You discover that your own Self is the true source of peace, the source of joy and bliss, the source of truth, clarity and all intelligence. Your own Self is Consciousness-Itself.
The ancient sage Patanjali described the relationship between the mind and the Self in a single aphorism:
tadaa drashtu svaroope vasthanam.— Yoga Sutras 1.3
In the moment your mind becomes still, you experience the bliss of your own being.— rendered by Swami Nirmalananda
I find it helpful to know that people in India, even thousands of years ago, also had difficulty quieting their minds. While they didn’t have TV, Internet and smart phones, they had families and work in the world. The world also experienced plagues and political unrest as well as racial and religious wars. Yet committed yogis still got enlightened. How?
They imbibed the sacred teachings of the already enlightened masters. Through the ages, these teachings were handed down from Master to disciple. Then the disciple became a Master and passed the teachings to the next generation. These teachings give the time-tested technique for stilling the mind in meditation — mantra. The instructions for using mantra are simple: repeat it, over and over and over. You can do it silently inside, out loud, or even chant it! Gurudevi Nirmalananda says you should repeat mantra during two time periods: when you are meditating and when you are not meditating.
Without an empowered mantra to focus on, your mind’s busyness conceals your inherent peace and inner light. It’s similar to when clouds hide the sun. Repeating mantra shifts your focus, from outer things to your own radiant Self within. Your Self is deeper than your mind. Miraculously, by repeating mantra, you use your amazing mind to access inner bliss. Mantra washes the gunk off your inner window, so you can see clearly through it. You see your own Self, and you learn to live from that deeper dimension. Then you see the world clearly. You aren’t rattled when problems arise. You step up to apply your intelligence and efforts to solutions. You see that everyone and everything is made of the same Divine essence as your own Self. In this state, peace, bliss and clarity are always arising from within. Your mind no longer harasses you. Your relationships become filled with joy, the joy filling you from within. You shine your light into the world. All this results from mantra meditation, which quiets your mind so you can go beyond it. Your destination is inside.