An important principle for the practitioner of yoga is to recognise that the old habits and ways of acting and reacting need to be removed in order to open up the capacity to receive the new powers of consciousness that are in the process of manifesting. Yoga is more or less a process of applied psychology with the secret leverage of refocusing the being away from the normal actions of body-life-mind toward a new higher level of awareness and force. As long as the original mind-life-body complex holds sway, the old ways will continue to dominate and control the time and attention.
This principle is illustrated in the development of the silent mind as a precursor to receiving the higher consciousness in the being. The silent mind represents the reduction of activity of the old ways and with the right orientation, it takes on the quality of openness, receptivity and awareness with an aspiration for the advent of the higher force. Much of the practice of the integral yoga involves the creation in the being of the needed standpoint, readiness, aspiration and openness so that the higher force can act. Once the individual puts himself into the correct posture to receive, the rest then depends on the time and intention of the divine shakti in bringing the higher consciousness into action in the being.
The silent mind is not the “end” of the sadhana, but rather it is an early stage upon which all else can be received and built up in the being.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “Keep the quietude and do not mind if it is for a time an empty quietude; the consciousness is often like a vessel which has to be emptied of its mixed or undesirable contents; it has to be kept vacant for a while till it can be filled with things new and true, right and pure. The one thing to be avoided is the refilling of the cup with the old turbid contents. Meanwhile wait, open yourself upwards, call very quietly and steadily, not with a too restless eagerness, for the peace to come into the silence and, once the peace is there, for the joy and the presence.”
“Equanimity and peace in all conditions, in all parts of the being is the first foundation of the yogic status. Either Light (bringing with it Knowledge) or Force (bringing strength and dynamism of many kinds) or Ananda (bringing love and joy of existence) can come next according to the trend of the nature. But peace is the first condition without which nothing else can be stable.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Quiet, Calm, Peace and Silence, pp. 118-122