How to Change One’s Nature

As the awareness develops of the influences that have shaped our character and active nature from our ancestors, our parents, as well as the influences from our peers and from the society at large, we begin to develop a respect for the complexity of the task and the reasons why we cannot simply use our mental conception and will-power to change our own nature. There is too much embedded in the subconscious layers of our being, not to speak of what resides in universal nature, to simply isolate ourselves from all those influences and create ourselves anew out of whole cloth.

At the same time, the task becomes easier if we view it as one that addresses factors that are not part of our core conception of our own personality. The power of this approach, then, is the ability to separate oneself from the factors that need to be examined and changed, and to recognise them as influences and forces outside ourselves and thus, less embedded in our sense of ‘self’.

As we sift through these influences, we begin to recognise patterns that can be modified, adjusted or simply removed as no longer relevant in the present day. Atavistic formations can be dispensed with. One simply can ask oneself why must this be done just because my parents, or grandparents or more ancient ancestors did it this way?

We actually see this example working out today in various ways. It is a known fact that children who were subjected to corporal punishment by their parents tend to exact similar corporal punishment on their own children. “That is the way it was done to me, and it worked, so I should do it to them!” Yet we see, here and there, parents awakening to the harm that corporal punishment can do to the children, and finding another way to address the education and development of the child without resorting to physical violence. This illustrates that indeed change can take place when conscious awareness and understanding is brought to bear on the old habits, folkways, traditions and customs.

The Mother notes: “If you really want to transform your character, it is that you must do. It has always been said that it is impossible to change one’s nature; in all books of philosophy, even of yoga, you are told the same story: ‘You cannot change your character, you are born like that, you are like that.’ This is absolutely false, I guarantee it is false; but there is something very difficult to do to change your character, because it is not your character which must be changed, it is the character of your antecedents. In them you will not change it (because they have no such intention), but it is in you that it must be changed. It is what they have given you, all the little gifts made to you at your birth — nice gifts — it is this which must be changed. But if you succeed in getting hold of the thread of these things, the true thread, since you have worked upon this with perseverance and sincerity, one fine morning you will be free; all this will fall off from you and you will be able to get a start in life without any burden. Then you will be a new man, living a new life, almost with a new nature. And if you look back you will say, ‘It is not possible. I was never like that!’ “

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, Collective Subconscious Influences, pp. 111-118


Observing the Inherited and Environmental Influences on One’s Character from the Standpoint of the Psychic Being

When the individual is able to shift out of the standpoint of the ego-personality to that of the soul, the psychic being, he is able to observe and trace the influences of inherited tendencies or environmental pressures that bubble up from the subconscient and try to gain admittance and acceptance into his active outer nature. The tendencies are as clearly defined as when one sees a physical resemblance between a mother and a daughter or father and son! The individual can see more than physical characteristics, however, including vital responses, habits of emotion, habits of speech, and habits of mind. The individual can also trace out the sources of other influences that come from family, friends, relations, as well as the community, the educational system and the very force of the time and its wider pressures.

The psychic being also has the ability to attract to it the needed circumstances for the soul’s purpose in this lifetime to be fulfilled. People speak of coincidence. When the soul is active, the coincidence, the synchronicity, are part of a process of the soul bringing to itself those energies and events that it needs in order to develop. Sometimes these things may even appear to be negative events if the outer personality is stuck, while the soul demands change…..

The soul can see patterns, relationships, and active forces from this new light and does not take things personally as the ego-personality tends to do. Life, seen from this standpoint, is a miraculous concatenation of energies moving towards a sense of universal oneness and inclusion. The individual no longer is oppressed by the old habits, traditions and ways of doing things, but is liberated through this knowledge. Those things that are useful can be kept and modified; those that are obsolete or counter-productive can be eliminated.

The Mother observes: “If you have within you a psychic being sufficiently awake to watch over you, to prepare your path, it can draw towards you things which help you, draw people, books, circumstances, all sorts of little coincidences which come to you as though brought by some benevolent will and give you an indication, a help, a support to take decisions and turn you in the right direction. But once you have taken this decision, once you have decided to find the truth of your being, once you start sincerely on the road, then everything seems to conspire to help you to advance, and if you observe carefully, you see gradually the source of your difficulties: ‘Ah! wait a minute, this failing was in my father; oh! this habit was my mother’s; oh! my grandmother was like this, my grandfather was like that’ or it could well be the nurse who took care of you when you were small, or brothers and sisters who played with you, the little friends you met, and you will find that all this was there, in this person or that or the other. But if you continue to be sincere, you find you can cross all this quite calmly, and after a time you cut all the moorings with which you were born, break the chains and go freely on the path.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, Collective Subconscious Influences, pp. 111-118

Our Subconscient Inheritance

We pride ourselves on our independence and self-sufficiency. We believe that we make conscious choices that are ‘our own’ choices. We do not generally recognise that who we are today, and what choices we tend to make, are very much conditioned by and even controlled by influences from the past. The Buddhist concept of ‘dependent origination’ describes this intertwined relationship between the present and the past. There is a built-in genetic inheritance that provides much of the framework for the mind, life and body that we inhabit in our lifetimes, and thereby controls many events. Capacities, and incapacities take on an important role in determining how we proceed through our lives. But the inheritance does not stop with our DNA. We also inherit ways of seeing and reacting from parents, extended family, our community, our society and our educational system. Traditions, cultural folkways, prejudices and predilections all influence our ‘free choice’ at every moment. We are of course also influenced by current circumstances, information flow, etc. which are all formed based on the common past that we share with the others with whom we interact, closely or at a distance, in the society. There is also the inheritance that stems from our prenatal programming through the thoughts, feelings, experiences, consumed media and its impacts, diet, hormonal releases, illnesses, stresses and drug intakes of our mothers, and the post-natal impacts of the mix of hormones, drugs and other substances imbibed through breast milk, along with the feelings, thoughts and energies experienced by our mothers in that crucial period.

Embedded also in the DNA are the past evolutionary drives. We can see this in the animal kingdom where animals repeat patterns that were not specifically taught by their parents or community/clan. Monarch butterflies for instance take four generations to make their circuit from Central America to Canada and back, yet they fly the same route, land in the same areas, eat the same foods, from generation to generation without a conscious education taking place from the older to the younger generation. Human beings also carry similar atavistic forms of knowledge into their lives, which govern actions and reactions that have been turned into deeply embedded habits in all human beings.

People simply do not realise how deeply programmed we are by the time we reach a point in our lives when we believe we can make our own decisions and exercise our free will. All of these influences from the past, reside in the subconscient realms of our being, and from there they remain as impressions, frequently released into action when triggered by an event or circumstance that touches that unseen, hidden part of our being.

The Mother writes: “One is born with a slough to clean before one begins to live. And once you have made a good start on the way to the inner transformation and you go down to the subconscient root of the being — that exactly which comes from parents, from atavism — well, you do see what it is! and all, almost all difficulties are there, there are very few things added to existence after the first years of life. This happens at any odd moment; if you keep bad company or read bad books, the poison may enter you; but there are all the imprints deep-rooted in the subconscient, the dirty habits you have and against which you struggle. For instance, there are people who can’t open their mouth without telling a lie and they don’t always do this deliberately (that is the worst of it), or people who can’t come in touch with others without quarreling, all sorts of stupidities — they are there in the subconscient, deeply rooted. Now, when you have a goodwill, externally you do your best to avoid all that, to correct it if possible; you work, you fight; then become aware that this thing always keeps coming up, it comes up from some part which escapes your control. But if you enter this subconscient, if you let your consciousness infiltrate it, and look carefully, gradually you will discover all the sources, all the origins of all your difficulties; then you will begin to understand what your fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers were, and if at a certain moment you are unable to control yourself, you will understand, ‘I am like that because they were like that.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, Collective Subconscious Influences, pp. 111-118

The Process of Effecting Change in Character

The character we exhibit today is a result of the past, whether we start from the underlying habitual patterns of human nature, or perhaps even go back farther to the patterns of the vital animal nature. Much of this is actually built into the genetic framework of the being, but layered on top of this is are the learned behaviors through socializing and through education, and then comes life experience, and the pressures exerted upon the life by the conditions of the outer world and impacts and influences from the environmental consciousness, all of which together creates the individual personality and character as we recognise it today. While this is created by the soul’s specific need of experience of a certain type, the development and functioning of the external being is very much a product of these forces. This layered complexity is a primary reason why people believe that human nature, or the basic character of the individual, cannot be realistically changed to any great degree. We may add a veneer of culture, or cultivation on the surface, but the underlying character remains what it was.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, however, have shown a way that this bedrock of character can indeed be changed. The process is painstaking, systematic and takes time. Taking the standpoint of the witness consciousness observing the nature of the being, the Purusha is able to disassociate from the outer nature, so that there is not an implicit acceptance of the framework that is in place. Then there is the exercise of a steady, patient and persistent will to change. Following up on this, specific key reactions are observed and modified over time.

There is an ancient legend about a great sage who was supposedly a dacoit, a highwayman or thief. At one point, to escape detection, he pretended to be a renunciate sage, living in the forest and practicing meditation and other spiritual disciplines. He did this for so long, that he lost all his motivation and urge to be a thief, and transformed his nature into that of an enlightened wise soul. This may or may not be a historical fact, but it does speak to something that we can relate to; namely, that awareness, focused attention and consistent action can change one’s life. In today’s world, we see cases where individuals who have been extremely obese and out of shape decided to change their lives, and took up a program of diet, exercise and positive affirmations and succeeded in transforming their body, their vital energy and their mental focus.

The Mother observes: “First of all one must be conscious, then control, and by continuing the mastery one changes one’s character. Changing the character is what comes last. One must control bad habits, the old habits, for a very long time for them to drop off and the character to change.”

“We may take the example of someone who has frequent depressions. When things are not exactly as he would like them to be, he becomes depressed. So, to begin with, he must become aware of his depression — not only of the depression but of the causes of depression, why he gets depressed so easily. Then, once he has become conscious, he must master the depressions, must stop being depressed even when the cause of depression is there — he must master his depression, stop it from coming. And finally, after this work has been done for a sufficiently long time, the nature loses the habit of having depressions and no longer reacts the same way, the nature is changed.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, Subconscient Habits, pp. 110-111

Programming the Subconscient to Modify Habits

While we tend to place a negative connotation on ‘habits’, in fact, habits are an important part of the action of the being, particularly of the physical being. We see times and seasons in Nature that repeat themselves, and we see animal life surviving through patterns and habits that they have developed over time. Human beings have sleep and waking cycles as well as general times for taking food that represent physical habits deeply ingrained in human activity. We can measure changes in the energy cycles and hormone release cycles to identify that these patterns are generally operative.

Repetition has a power that can help turn an idea into a reality. We find that training the body, the vital being and the mind to use patterns, habits of action constructively, can yield tremendous results. Physical training is one such aspect where development of ‘muscle memory’ and other trained habitual responses can save one’s life as well as help an individual accomplish great feats of athletic prowess or endurance.

It is possible to tap into the power of the subconscient through systematic programming of the subconscient. There are numerous techniques which have come to the forefront in recent times to accomplish this, including the power of positive affirmations, training regimens, meditation, mantra and breathing practices, etc.

These practices can aid in removal of unwanted or unneeded obsolete habits and build in new habits that are aligned with the current needs of the being.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The subconscient is the support of habitual action — it can support good habits as well as bad.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, Subconscient Habits, pp. 110-111

Habits, Cravings, Addictions and the Subconscient

One of the big issues that all people face is dealing with cravings, habits and addictions and their effects in their lives. The mechanism at work here is not based on conscious decision-making, but on impulses, feelings and pulls that occur subconsciously, whether in the mind, the vital being, or the body. Certain habits may begin with a mental or vital acceptance, particularly as a result of peer pressure or tradition. Thus, many begin to utilize tobacco or alcohol, or other ‘recreational drugs’ as a result of the pressure from outside. Once the acceptance is there, the physical effects of the habit begin to be felt. In the beginning many of these are experienced as extremely positive experiences, euphoric, or soporific, or bringing with them feelings of warmth and lower inhibitions, reduction of feelings of social awkwardness. These experiences also work on the physical cells of the body and stir the release of certain hormones that are associated with pleasure and good feelings.

When the immediate stimulus wears off, one feels a lack stemming from the reduction of the flow of the hormones in the system, and at later stages, when addiction arises, there are physical symptoms of ill-feeling that arise. There can be headaches, nausea, uncontrolled nervous impulses, and feelings of depression. The body has accepted, subconsciously, the need for the habit. It should be noted that not all habits or addictions are related to taking a physical drug or substance. These can also arise through vital movements or even mental addiction when the mind gets a thrill or satisfaction from certain actions. When intense, an addiction can wrack the body in nerve pain to such a degree that the individual feels like he is burning up or otherwise experiencing extreme bodily discomfort bordering on physical torture. In those instances, the individual will do just about anything to satisfy the addiction.

The needs so created are not ‘real’ needs, inasmuch as they are created through actions that are extraneous to basic physical, vital or mental needs of life. However they are created, eventually the individual must either take steps to break the habit or addiction, or suffer an ever-deepening spiral of pain, pressure and systematic destruction of the body, the life-energy and the mental powers as the addiction gets out of hand and takes over one’s life.

The first step is to find the will to overcome the habit or addiction. Some are easier to break than others. Caffeine addiction is, for instance, extremely common in our society with the accepted social intake of tea or coffee. It is relatively easy to marshal the will to overcome caffeine addiction, with some physical side effects for a few days or a week. Much more difficult would be addiction to opioids which require the individual to undertake a program, in most cases with very heavy assistance, to break the habit and fight through the withdrawal suffering. Alcohol addiction is one that falls in between, as the mood one feels while imbibing alcohol is said to help individuals ‘unwind’ from the stress of modern day life, of poor circumstances, and escape from the pressures of the present life. It becomes a crutch that people do not want to throw away, until such time as they recognise the issues the alcohol is creating for them physically, vitally, mentally and in their social relationships. By that time, many have suffered irreversible damage to their internal organs and thus, a new round of physical difficulties and suffering follows. If the individual wakes up soon enough to the dangers of any of these addictions, he can exercise will to implement a plan to overcome the habit, craving or addiction, whatever it is. This plan generally involves some kind of changes in diet, lifestyle and, in many cases, assistance of professionals and use of a program of weaning off of the addictive substance over time, with patience, perseverance and a strong will to succeed.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “It is the habit in the subconscient material that feels an artificial need created by the past and does not care whether it is harmful or disturbing to the nerves or not. That is the nature of all intoxicants (wine, tobacco, cocaine etc.), people go on even after the deleterious effects have shown themselves and even after all the real pleasure in it has ceased because of this artificial need (it is not real). The will has to get hold of this subconscient persistence and dissolve it.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, Subconscient Habits, pp. 110-111

The Process and Steps of Ridding the Nature of Habitual Movements

Some believe that it is impossible to change human nature. They repeat the proverb that one cannot straighten out a dog’s tail, but it will return to its former status time and again. Some become frustrated and essentially fight with their body, vital being or mind, wherever the movement they desire to change resides. Some try to suppress the movement with force, and some through intimidation of torturing the body when an impulse arises which they do not want to accept. The hair shirt, the celise, the self-flagellation all arise out of the attempt to change human nature with violence, impatience and overpowering force. The sad thing is, these methods simply do not work, and cannot effectuate long-term real change in human nature. In many instances this leads either to depression, or turns the individual into a cold, bitter, frustrated personality who takes out his own failings on others, as he cannot deal with them as he wishes within himself. There seems to be no way out, and thus, eventually people believe human nature cannot change.

Sri Aurobindo takes a different approach. He first observes the field closely and determines in what part of the being, and under what force of impulsion the habitual movement has arisen. Then it is a matter of applying skillful means to systematically tackle the issue and make it ever less relevant to the being. Through a change of focus toward the higher realisations one is seeking, the power of any habitual movement can be reduced in both its level of occurrence and its intensity of occurrence. The mind, the mental will, can be harnessed to deny the movement full expression. This may not succeed all at once, but over time, with patient and persistent will, it eventually can, and does, succeed. The movement may remain embedded in the vital being or even in the physical being with a somewhat automatic response to a stimuli, and thus, may recur at some time when least expected simply because the guard has been reduced with the apparent success. Continued effort then drives these impulses into the subconscient layers, and from there they can erupt from time to time or at the very least, make themselves known in the dream state. The practice of psychotherapy attempts to open up what is hidden in the subconscient, but for the most part, this simply empowers these impulses and thus, may be highly counter-productive.

People believe that if they gain control over the impulses within their own individual being, that they have solved the issue, but in fact, the oneness of the energetic forces of the universal creation implies that until the movement is eliminated throughout all of Nature, it still has its existence and can attempt to infect the individual from there on any suitable occasion.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “When a habitual movement long embedded in the nature is cast out, it takes refuge in some less enlightened part of the nature, and when cast out of the rest of the nature, it takes refuge in the subconscient and from there surges up when you least expect it or comes up in dreams or sudden inconscient movements or it goes out and remains in wait in the environmental being through which the universal Nature works and attacks from there as a force from outside trying to recover its kingdom by a suggestion or repetition of old movements. One has to stand fast till the power of return fades away. These returns or attacks must be regarded not as parts of oneself, but as invasions — and rejected without allowing any depression or discouragement. If the mind does not sanction them, if the vital refuses to welcome them, if the physical remains steady and refuses to obey the physical urge, then the recurrence of the thought, the vital impulse, the physical feeling will begin to lose its last holds and finally they will be too feeble to cause any trouble.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, How to Deal with the Subconscient, pp. 108-109

Dealing with the Subconscient Elements of the Being

As the individual confronts the various impulses, emotions, drives and thoughts that arise and drive his life and action, he begins to recognise that there are elements that are not easily identified on the surface, and that there is something that cannot quite be grabbed with the intellect, which represents a motive spring for many of the impulses that he contends with. When he tries to control these drives, habits or impulses through the use of mental reasoning or will-power, he soon finds that they nevertheless have their impact and in many cases, the individual finds himself doing things or experiencing feelings that he does not want to have. There is a ‘conflict’ within that needs to be understood and resolved.

This has led to the development, in the field of psychology of what is termed ‘psychoanalysis’, which essentially explores the subconscient regions to find out from whence these hidden motive springs of impulse arise, and thereby to try to gain some control over them. The problem with this approach however is that dredging up the enormous amount of unfuffilled desires, urges, habitual reactions and bringing them to the surface tends to give them reign to openly focus the attention in these areas and actually may strengthen them to a great degree. Sri Aurobindo suggests a different approach, whereby the primary focus is on the higher aspirations and motives, thereby tuning the consciousness to powers, forces and directions that are supportive of the higher seeking of the individual, and through bringing the light and force of this higher purpose and direction into action, removing the energy and power of the lower powers and drives submerged in the subconscient.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The subconscient is not the whole foundation of the nature; it is only the lower basis of the Ignorance and affects mostly the lower vital and the physical exterior consciousness and these again affect the higher parts of the nature. While it is well to see what it is and how it acts, one must not be too preoccupied with this dark side or this apparent aspect of the instrumental being. One should rather regard it as something not oneself, a mask of false nature imposed on the true being by the Ignorance. The true being is the inner with all its vast possibilities of reaching and expressing the Divine and especially the inmost, the soul, the psychic Purusha which is always in its essence pure, divine, turned to all that is good and true and beautiful. The exterior being has to be taken hold of by the inner being and turned into an instrument no longer of the upsurging of the ignorant subconscient Nature, but of the Divine. It is by remembering always that and opening the nature upwards that the Divine Consciousness can be reached and descend from above into the whole inner and outer existence, mental, vital, physical, the subconscient, the subliminal, all that we overtly or secretly are. This should be the main preoccupation. To dwell solely on the subconscient and the aspect of imperfection creates depression and should be avoided. One has to keep a right balance and stress on the positive side most, recognising the other but only to reject and change it.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Subconscient, How to Deal with the Subconscient, pp. 108-109

Calming Agitation of the Nerves: An Exercise

Most people get ‘wound up’ occasionally or frequently. This leads to what is called in Ayurveda ‘deranged vata’. Vata is the dosha that represents the air element in the being. The symptoms can include nervous tics, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, and a general feeling of lack of ease or peace. This can be occasioned by worry, anticipation, or nervous exhaustion, overloaded senses, and in today’s modern world, perhaps one of the biggest culprits is interfacing with various electronic devices, such as TV sets, cell phones or tablets, computers, etc. Additionally certain foods or beverages have been known to accentuate nervous energy, in particular coffee or tea containing caffeine, particularly if indulged in excessively.

By taking steps to begin addressing the primary causes, an individual can notice the various aspects of the being becoming more calm. It may also be necessary to engage in specific types of exercises to aid this process. Meditation can be helpful, but an excited state of the nerves is antithetical to meditation. Frequently, deep breathing techniques or the use of certain mantras while focusing on the breath can be of immense help. The Mother recommends a simple technique below, as an example of the type of exercise one can undertake to calm the nerves and bring a measure of peace to the being. Similarly, walking in the forest, or along the oceanside may act as a calming aid. Whichever method one chooses, there should still be an effort to address the actual underlying causes.

The Mother notes: “These are phenomena of self-identification. Only, they are involuntary. And this is also one of the methods used today to cure nervous diseases. When someone cannot sleep, cannot be restful because he is too excited and nervous and his nerves are ill and weakened by excessive agitation, he is told to sit in front of an aquarium, for instance — an aquarium, that’s very lovely, isn’t it? — before an aquarium with pretty little fish in it, goldfish; just to sit there, settle down in an easy-chair and try not to think of anything (particularly not his troubles) and look at the fish. So he looks at the fish, moving around, coming and going, swimming, gliding, turning, meeting, crossing, chasing one another indefinitely, and also the water flowing slowly and the passing fish. After a while he lives the life of fishes: he comes and goes, swims, glides, plays. And at the end of the hour his nerves are in a perfect state and he is completely restful! … But the condition is that one must not think of one’s troubles, simply watch the fish.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Healing the Nerves, pp. 101-107

Overcoming Disturbance of the Nerves

When an individual takes up the inner observation process and begins to look carefully at the motives, actions, feelings, emotions and ideas that dominate the being, there is frequently a stage where the witness consciousness becomes ‘self-critical’ and worries about every misstep, every wrong feeling or emotion, and every impulse. This self-critical phase can occupy the focus and lead to nervous imbalances, and various manifestations in the body and the nervous system, frequently showing up as digestive upsets or headaches or various forms of irritation, sleeplessness, or feelings of depression, and fear of failure.

These things arise through an incorrect understanding of the witness-consciousness, replacing the true disinterested witness with a mental formation associated with the process of introspection. Specific ideal thoughts, emotions, actions and relations are held and one’s inner being is compared to these formations. When the inner being continues to harbor thoughts or feelings that do not match the ideal, the seeker may then conclude that it is hopeless, that change will never result, and that the effort is doomed to failure.

The poise of the witness, separate from the nature, does not associate itself with these feelings, and if the seeker can adopt this poise, he can observe the workings of the nature, understand the complexity and the pressures of habit, tradition, and education that have led to the current status, and then begin the process of slowly disentangling the knots of consciousness that prevent change from occurring. During this period, there must be a quiet, confident aspiration and faith to sustain the process.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “There is no real reason for discontent or dissatisfaction with yourself — since progress is being made in spite of the resistance of the lower forces. The pressure which is translated by the heaviness in the stomach has to be got rid of — it is there that there is the chief resistance still. Peace within and a cheerful confidence and gladness without is what is wanted — then this kind of nervous pressure and disorder would cease.”

“The main difficulty seems to be that you are too subject to an excitement of the nerves — it is only by bringing quietude and calm into the whole being that a steady progress in the sadhana can be assured. … The first thing to be done in order to recover is to stop yielding to the attack of the nerves — the more you yield and identify yourself with these ideas and feelings, the more they increase. You have to draw back and find back something in you that is not affected by pains and depressions, then from there you can get rid of the pains and depressions.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Healing the Nerves, pp. 101-107