How to Control Mind and Thoughts during Meditation?
This is one of the most asked questions when one step into meditation as for how to control the thoughts during meditation. Many explanations have given for this obstruction, some are hard to follow and practice, and the rest are not effective.
The methodologies are easy to follow theoretically, but hard to realize practically. Here, I have noted 2 ultimate ways to control the mind and thoughts which are the essence of the yoga practices.
Same as like the scientific experimental procedures, controlling the thoughts also have ‘How to’ procedures. These are the techniques that work only when done properly. The superstitious beliefs do not yield the desired result.
Few people say that, as like the function of various organs in the body, let the mind also reside in its function. Then, what is the difference between controlling the mind and letting it free as like the common people?
Before continuing to read this article, it is beneficial to go through a brief note on 5 states of mind and concentration in yoga for a better understanding.
Mind and Thoughts
The mind is said to exist as the collection of thoughts. The scientist estimated that we have an average of about 80,000 thoughts per day. These active thoughts are expressed as the mind where the mind is the projection of these thoughts.
Buddha said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts, we make the world.”
We know that only one thought exists at an instant of time which is continued with the succession of thoughts. These thoughts are the collections of our past, present events and future imagination, planning, expectations etc. based on the intellectual outcomes of past and present life experiences. Moving along with these thoughts takes one to the endless thoughts.
The vibrations of the mind correspond to the emotional level of the thoughts that induce and induced by various chemicals present in the body. The thoughts detached from these higher mental vibrations are responsible for slowing down the mind.
Controlling the mind is nothing but readily shielding these unwanted thoughts, thus considerably reducing the mental waves. (Read also 5 Ways of Concentration of Mind Naturally)
The mind exists only when the thoughts exist. If there is no thought, there is no mind. Therefore, there is no conscious awareness. We are referred with our thoughts and the yogis said that it was an illusion created misleading the ‘I - self’ where the real ‘I’ is beyond that.
The wakefulness and sleepiness state of the person’s mind is analogous to the bubbles in the water where it evolves and gets merges with the water recurrently.
We can realize in the wakeful state that the mind does not exist in the deep sleep state as there are no thoughts in that state. The awareness of the consciousness is lost in that state, but in the transcendental state, the complete awareness of the consciousness is realized.
Mind Control Techniques
There are two main approaches to controlling the thoughts in meditation.
- The popular and most practiced one is directing or fixing the mind, where it gets to calm down gradually.
- The next is to seek the origin of thoughts, where it gets subsidies when realized.
The first approach is directing the mind to a particular thought, chakra sensation, mantra, kriya, lamp, etc. That is the object of concentration. The other approach is watching the thoughts with the aid of intellect without involving with it.
For a beginner controlling the thoughts might be difficult at the early stages, but certainly, it gets controlled with the disciplined practice.
The Kundalini meditation initially fixes the thought in the chakras, where the unnecessary thoughts will fade away gradually. (Read also How to Practice Kundalini Meditation?)
The typical method is by fixing the mind in the prana where the unwanted thoughts get eradicated. This is the popular method of controlling the mind by breath regulation, where it is considered as bridle of the mind.
In other practices such as kriya yoga, the mind is not voluntarily controlled but gets involuntarily absorbed in the kriyas.
According to Bhagavad Gita, ‘one must adhere to the object of concentration such as Kundalini chakras by bringing back the mind from the other thoughts whenever it gets distracted.’
The Vipassana and Mindfulness are done by observing the thoughts that arise naturally. This unattached observation is a technique that takes one to the origin of thoughts. For a person who does not have much of spiritual background, it is a difficult process to reach its pinnacle. This is similar to the approach of jnana yoga, the method of realizing the self, on enquiring the mind as ‘what is the mind? Then it subsides’ according to Ramana Maharishi.
These are the effective techniques to control the thoughts.
3 Levels of Consciousness
According to the yoga philosophy, there are three levels of consciousness, the conscious mind, subconscious mind and the unconscious or superconscious. The conscious state is the seat of thoughts where the conscious awareness of the ‘I - self’ evolves. This is referred to the mind and body as ‘I - self’. This state is referred as the ordinary existential mind where the perception exists as the gross forms.
The subconscious mind is the center of involuntary regulations of the body and influences the conscious mind. The psychologist says that in the dream state or the trance state the subconscious mind becomes vulnerable to the suggestions. Here the mind exists as the perception of mental forms, where the dreams are conceived as realities. (Read 7 Most Effective Mind Control Techniques One Should Be Aware)
The unconscious is the state referred with the absence of conscious awareness (rational mind) and the presence of unknown consciousness. This is the powerful level of consciousness where the significant higher intelligence is reflected. This pure consciousness exists as the witnesses of all the three states.
How to Stop Thoughts Entirely In Meditation?
In the advanced stage of meditation, the mind is slowed down to the extent of one-pointedness where only a single thought exists that which is repeated over and over in a succession. Here, the iteration is done itself involuntarily as there is no room for another thought to cycle this thought.
Then in the next stage, it gets spontaneously arrested. At this point, the complete control of the mind is attained where the steadiness of the mind is experienced as like a lamp placed in the windless spot that does not flicker. Since there is a static thought, the mind still exists in this state.
In the next level, this thought gets absorbed in the self. The mind gets transcended in this stage where only the awareness of the pure consciousness exists as the superconscious form. In this state, there is no requirement of the body to remain in this state and termed as realizing the self.
Since there are no sensual perceptions in deep sleep state where the senses are shut down temporarily, similarly, in the transcendental state the senses will be withdrawn completely. This is an inexpressible state that would be revealed through the experience.
There are no scriptures stating that neither one can control the mind overnight nor there is any shortcut.
One can do anything under the sun, where controlling the mind is the toughest act, only a few have controlled it absolutely and realized the self.
Patience and practice are very much required to control the mind. Now the aspirants can decide which technique to choose.