How Well You Move in Life depends on Your Awareness of Your Body and Mind
Body and Mind are not two disconnected things; they affect each other. Here we use the Chariot Analogy from Katha Upanishad. It is one of the most straightforward analogies to explain our internal workings.
The ‘Body’ is a Chariot which holds the Senses and Emotions (Horses); if uncontrolled can pull your Body and Life (Chariot) in different directions. If the chariot is driven by our inborn Intelligence (Driver) that uses the Mind (Reins) constructively to control the senses and emotions (Horses), you can set your life. But the Mind (Reins) control is complex with layers of Personality (Ahankara) and Mindset (Chitta) created consciously and subconsciously from your social conditioning and life experiences. Behind all this activity is the ‘Higher Self’ (Jiva-Atma) sitting in the passenger seat– the Witness, the Silent Observer (It is not the soul). The things that influence the senses and emotions (Horses) direct the path on which your life(Chariot) moves.
The five horses represent sense organs –the eyes, ears, smell, taste, touch, and the emotions they trigger. In short, the senses and emotions are involved in the field of activity, so keep them under control. The sixth horse signifies the brain (physical aspect and its primary function). It processes, stores and retrieves all the memories and emotions and coordinates the self-governing services of the body even without the subject’s attention. The Horses (Senses, Emotions, and Brain) can pull the chariot (body/life ) in different directions if uncontrolled. By this reasoning, we can surmise that the analogy focuses on one’s action or inaction and its consequences.
In today’s culture, the education system is designed more toward being able to perform work with skill and knowledge. We work, pay bills and sustain our lives. It’s as if we never really live the full potential of our lives. As we grasp the routine of daily life, the consequence is the suppression, suffering, or binging of sensual and emotional needs. The customs and the education system of the civil society do not teach us the value of life and the coping mechanisms. The chariot analogy is a small example from Yoga tradition to understand how our inner systems work and balance our lives.
The Mind (Reins)
Within the Mind, you hold the following that affect your life:
- Social identities(Ahankara): For example, ‘I’m the boss, and he is the subordinate,’ or I’m the subordinate and she is the boss’ can dictate the Mind by social control. Daily we play many roles in our lives, and all those identities affect behaviour and others due to the characters they are playing out.
- Mindset(Chitta): The other aspect you hold dearly is the Mindset, which affects your attitude. Your Mindset shapes your perspective about a particular thing or a person. Your Mindset is a collection of your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs you hold on to over some time.
One can display a fake attitude because it is about external projection. Still, the Mindset is more significant and can limit who you think you are. If one has an open mind to think through things with evidence, that person can change their Mindset. And it happens all the time in all our lives, knowingly or without Awareness. And so, have a positive mindset, which will help you achieve greater heights in life.
Intellect (Buddhi — Driver)
You operate through your Intellect. Whether you use this faculty passively or with complete Awareness is the differentiating factor in the quality of your life.
When you are consciously present and aware of the present moment, you would be able to effectively use the Intellect to control your senses and your Mindset. And not be affected by your social identities. Otherwise, the unconscious Mind takes control and works in an auto-reflective mode from past experiences.
Intellect is your Mind’s capacity, and intelligence is your Mind’s capability. Intellect is the faculty or ability of thinking, reasoning, and understanding. Intelligence uses’ input knowledge to create, infer, and rationalize thoughts and actions. Capacity does not mean capability, but the exciting thing about the brain is that you can develop both.
Two Meditation Tools to Cultivate the Mind and Balance Your Life
- Meditate by ‘Cultivating the Opposite’ (Pratipaksha Bhavana). The ‘cultivating the opposite’ yoga meditation is a means to hold and centre your Mind in a peaceful state. Then the next step is to intellectually consider without bias the emotions and thoughts that arise; to cope with them and direct your life.
- The Reflective Meditation from Gnana Yoga (Jnana — Buddhism) is to reign in your Mind by reflecting upon yourself and the true nature of reality.
Life Integration — Reflective Behavior
In India, where meditation originated, ‘Dhyana’ (meditation) means ‘to remember,’ ‘to check in,’ ‘to contemplate’, or ‘reflect upon mindfully.’ In Indian culture, when someone has a challenge in life and approaches an elder with the ‘problem’ for advice, the elder would avoid giving an immediate direct response. The elder would usually say, ‘Mujhe is pe dhayan Karne do,’ –Meaning ‘let me meditate on it.’
This reflective behaviour I used to experience with my grandmother. She was quick-witted, and her responses flew in fast, funny, and always to the point. But otherwise, her answer would never be immediate when a critical issue came up. She used to ask many questions to understand the problem at hand. Then she used to look up as if brooding on it or close her eyes thinking profoundly. Then she would say, “Nannu Dini Mida Dyanam Chayani,” which means “let me meditate on it,” and tell the person to come later.
She used to sit in meditation daily, it was her routine, but at such times it used to be quite long. During this period, she rarely discussed the problem with anyone but asked additional questions, if any and contemplated on it; then seemed lost in thinking. And then, suddenly, she would call that person/s one day and give her feedback. She never used to dictate or tell anyone to do it in a particular way. She used to have an open discussion (Satsang) to explain their options and lay down the consequences of going on a specific path.
Looking back, I realize she was actually ‘coaching’ the person/group. It allowed them to solve their problem by taking responsibility for the choices they make. Her style of living and solving problems sums up the ‘reflective meditation’ and the yogic way of living. Maybe that was her secret to a joyful, uncomplicated life where everyone had the absolute freedom of choice as provided for in nature. To take up reflective meditation, you not only need to zero in on the ‘One problem statement’ to contemplate but also to look at your life in a particular way with openness.