Search for Self
The wandering mind is the bane of yoga, the hidden cause of failure of meditation. It was outlawed by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. Krishna condemned it even. And still it continues unabated to assail the best of yogis even those who pretend that they are not affected by it.
Why does the iSelf have to trail behind its wondering mind?
Simple! The psyche is designed for the automatic consent of whimsical spontaneous mental operations which include desirable or undesirable emotional feelings, flash ideas, imaginative displays, deliberate plans and random or requested memories.
How to change this?
Teachers give different methods. Here are some of those proposals.
- silently chant a mantra
- audibly chant a mantra
- track the breathing pattern
- focus on the tip of the nose
- focus between the eyebrows
- focus on the top of the head
- listen to soothing music which induces a meditational mood
- listen to an involuntary inner sound
- visualize a meditative state
- do breath infusion prior to meditation
- do asana postures prior to meditation
- detachedly observe the mind’s constructions
If any such methods helps, then do it. Then check to see if the mind ceased its compulsions and if the coreSelf was freed for the time being from the mind’s hypnosis over it.
And what is the coreSelf?
- Locate it as the focus from which energies protrude from the head.
And if one cannot locate that because it is too abstract?
- Locate it as the observerSelf (iSelf) which perceives thoughts or ideas.
And if one cannot locate that because it is too indistinct?
- Then for the time being accept the quiet mind space as the self
If a yogi cannot sort the coreSelf from its psychic adjuncts, particularly from the thought-producing intellect, he may develop objectivity by studying the way, the mind resumes thinking processes after it was silenced in a meditation session. Instead of trying to sort the adjuncts before reaching the silent meditation state, he may reach that state and then do the sorting when the mind attempts to resume its usual thinking process.
The mind will always resume this thinking process., Hence it is a reliable way to study what or where the thinking occurs in the mind, and who sees or is cognizant of such thinking.
I propose that one begin this with the idea that the thinking process and the observer of it are two separate psychic objects. Yes, I wrote objects. During the silent phase of meditation, the observer is present but the thinking process is absent. Because of this absence, the observer has no point of reference and may fail to identify itself.
However, when there is thinking, the observer suffers from a misidentification problem where it identifies so much with the thinking process as to label itself as the thinker. This error was stated by René Descartes:
I think, therefore I am (Cogito, ergo sum)
If the yogi finds that there is only a thinker in the mind space, he should sort that thinker into two parts as the observer and the thinking apparatus in the mind. There should be psychic distance between the observer and the thinking process within the mind. If there is no such space, it means that the observer identifies so straongly with the thinking process that it is fused into that process and cannot objectify itself. This is due to a helpless attachment, which is natural though it is undesirable in meditation practice.
Descartes’s statement may be rewritten:
I observe thinking therefore I am in opposition to the thinking process of the mind.
There must be two factors, the thinking process and myself as the observing self.
When thinking ceases, the observing self is left empty without the thinking reference. Like a man without a mirror, it then has difficulty self-observing itself.