The mind is restless, turbulent, strong, and obstinate, O Krishna. It appears to me that it is more difficult to control than the wind.
(Chapter 6; verse 34)
Arjun speaks for us all when he declares that the troublesome mind simply refuses to be controlled. The mind flits in different directions, jumping from one subject to another without pause or cause. It changes its point of concentration, bringing terrible upheavals in one’s consciousness. It constantly focuses on negativity such as hatred, anger, lust, greed, envy, anxiety, fear, attachment, etc. It also overpowers the intellect with its powerful currents and even kills the vivek buddhi or, faculty of discrimination. What makes it worse, the mind is stubborn; it refuses to let go of a negative thought; instead, it plays it repeatedly till we actually begin to believe in the truth of its negativity.
Arjun, in truth, is appealing to Krishna to help control his mind. To this, Krishna responds thus:
Undoubtedly, O Arjuna, the mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by any constant vigorous spiritual practice, such as meditation, with perseverance, and by detachment, O Arjuna.
To begin with, Krishna does not deny the problem. The first step towards gaining clarity on any situation is to acknowledge it. This takes a lot of effort. One way to keep the mind calm is meditation. There are other ways, too. Distracting yourself from the situation—not physically but mentally—truly helps. One could look at the situation like an outsider. That brings perspective, and with perseverance, the mind would stop flitting. The most important step towards mental peace is vairagya or detachment. This may be achieved by observing the hops, skips, and jumps that the mind takes. Simply observe. With disciplined practice comes proficiency. Proficiency at observation brings dispassion, or detachment; the feeling that you, in truth, have nothing to do with the situation. Becoming impersonal brings peace for you and you get better equipped to handle the situation.
If you find yourself thinking and worrying about a situation, the first step is to write down the problem. That will tell you how big the problem is. Once you have it in front of you, it becomes clear about the course of action needed. If the mind jumps from one thought to another, bring it back to the real problem.
With constant discipline, you realise that there is only so much control you have over any situation. With this dispassion, you will be able to act with calmness. If anything, The Bhagavad Gita helps in dealing better with any situation that you may come across. Try reading it.
Gagan Dhawan, is the Founder of Pen aur Paper, a personalised gifting venture that aims to keep India's rich cultural heritage alive with innovative products. Gagan is a fitness enthusiast, enjoys reading, and believes in motivating people with inspirational stories about spirituality, motivation, leadership, and self-reflection.
This article is his attempt to connect one of the most inspirational books ever written with the modern person and life today.