Step-by-Step Process of Stilling the Mind

When we undertake the practice being recommended by the Gita, as an aid to quieting the mind and withdrawing from the entanglement of the senses and their objects, we quickly find out that this is not as simple as it sounds. Once one begins to seriously attempt this, one recognizes that the mind tends to jump around from object to object, the external impressions force themselves on the senses and impact our inner awareness, and we are constantly moved to respond, reach out, interact with and otherwise maintain our involvement with the external world and its forms and forces. At any early stage many actually want to give up, claiming the impossibility of the task.

The process requires patience and persistent practice. Sri Aurobindo has summarized the basic steps or stages that can be noted: “First, all the desires born of the desire-will have to be wholly abandoned without any exception or residue and the senses have to be held in by the mind so that they shall not run out to all sides after their usual disorderly and restless habit; but next the mind itself has to be seized by the Buddhi and drawn inward. One should slowly cease from mental action by a Buddhi held in the grasp of fixity and having fixed the mind in the higher self one should not think of anything at all. Whenever the restless and unquiet mind goes forth, it should be controlled and brought into subjection in the Self. When the mind is thoroughly quieted, there there comes upon the Yogin, the highest stainless, passionless bliss of the soul that has become the Brahman. ‘Thus freed from the stain of passion and putting himself constantly into Yoga, the Yogin easily and happily enjoys the touch of the Brahman which is an exceeding bliss.’ ”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 23, Nirvana and Works in the World, pg. 231