Satsang on Mental Health

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

How can I have a free mind?

It is very difficult to have a free mind, and more than that, it is very dangerous. If a tiger is not kept caged it might run free and kill many people. Before you think about making the mind free it must be educated, trained and disciplined, otherwise it might bring destruction to you and to others.

The mind is very powerful. It is the basis of good and evil and it can manifest anxiety or balance. The same mind wants to commit suicide at one instant and to realise God the next. This means there are two stages of the mind - the untamed mind and the trained mind. A yogi has a trained mind, but an animal does not. Now, in man there is an animal, a man and a god. Once a man has trained his thoughts and emotions, his actions are controlled, and then he can think of making his mind free.

If you do not discipline yourself before making the mind free, it will make you unhappy and depressed. It will create hatred, likes and dislikes, attachments and repulsions, and it could influence you towards self-destruction. Nowadays, we are all suffering because our minds are undisciplined. So when we talk about freedom of the mind, we should not forget about discipline. Discipline of mind and freedom of mind should go together, they are not independent of each other.

Where does restlessness come from?

Generally, restlessness is due to excessive thinking and desiring, and it indicates that the mind is not under your control. In this physical body there are two forms of energy. One is known as mental energy and the other as vital or pranic energy. When you are feeling restless, it means your mental energy is high and your pranic energy is low. There is an imbalance, your sense organs are very active and your motor organs are less active. In hatha yogic language we call this imbalance between ida and pingala nadis, or in modern scientific terms, imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

In order to harmonise the excess of mental energy it is necessary for one to practise more raja yoga concentration. The best method is to practise mantra repetition. The mantra can be repeated mentally, with Or without the use of a mala. It can also be practised in synchronisation with the breath. Of course there are many other ways of practising the mantra, but these are the best methods for checking the outflow of mental energy.

If you are not able to do this, then there is another way of approaching the problem. You should try to increase the level of prana in the body. Either you check the quantum of mental energy or you increase the quantum of pranic energy. The purpose of hatha yoga, raja yoga, or in fact, any form of yoga, is to create this harmonious situation. But, at the same time, there are certain hormonal secretions in the physical body which contribute to restlessness. The most disturbing hormones are adrenaline and testosterone. If you can control the outflow of these hormones you can overcome physiological causes of restlessness.

By regularly practising asana, pranayama and meditation, hormonal production is controlled, mental and pranic energies are harmonised, and problems such as restlessness do not occur.

In the course of life, is it best to act or to let things happen?

You have to let things happen, but at the same time you have to try to make some effort. One should not lose hope and courage. One should try to act in the best possible manner and contribute to success. It is always good to fight with the circumstances and events of life, but one must know that in order to fight well in life, it is best to maintain a balanced attitude rather than to become excited, neurotic or unnecessarily stimulated.

If you want to build a house, factory, a shop or a family, you have to make positive efforts to accomplish this, but sometimes it happens that things don't work out. This acts negatively on the human mind. One is affected very much at that juncture with psychological, mental and physical problems. At this time, you must let things happen. Letting things happen is a very good philosophy, but it should be practised only when things have gone beyond your hands. As long as the situation is under your control, try to work it out as smoothly and as intelligently as you can.

When husband and wife live together, they should try to be as happy as possible. If there are occasional troubles between them, they should try their best to mend them. If a great split is going to take place, still they should try to avoid it. And if they do separate, they should think about making amends and renewing the relationship. But if the relationship is completely finished, they must simply accept it. This is the best way to avoid psychological, mental and physical problems. Although this is just one example, it applies to all situations in life.

Why do our emotions often bring us to tears? Is it good to cry?

There are certain laws of nature by which we are controlled. If someone dies in the family everybody cries. If your friends come to see you at this time, you start crying. Why? It is not really because someone is dead that you cry, but because the death has caused certain constrictions in the system, and by crying they are released.

Now, when you feel a lot of pain in the body you start crying and moaning. Why? Because when you moan you are practising rechaka, breath exhalation. When you practise rechaka, pain is removed from the pain centre in the brain. So if you feel like crying you should not suppress your tears. Don't try to fight your natural reactions, nature has a very organised system and you should have faith in it.

Please discuss the different levels of fear and how to accept and overcome them.

There are various forms of fear and there are so many that at every step of our life we face them- fear of disease, fear of insult, fear of death, fear of losing money, etc. Fear rules our lives. The best way to remove a fear is to trace it right back to its very origin. And every time you do this, you will find that the source of fear is ignorance.

When your consciousness is unable to penetrate deeper than the present state of the mind, fear comes. A child has its own limitations of mind, and beyond them there is fear. If a child goes to the bathroom at night he is afraid because it is dark, but if I go to the bathroom I'm not afraid because I know there is nothing there. If I ask you to sleep beside a dead man you probably couldn't do it. Even if you were sure that he is dead you would probably still be filled with fear. But I could sleep there because I know that he is dead, his spirit has been withdrawn and nothing will happen to me.

So the main cause of fear is lack of knowledge. When one has knowledge and understanding he becomes fearless.

How can one become humble?

From time to time, forget your power and position and put aside your social, financial, intellectual or spiritual values. Go to ashrams, visit places of pilgrimage, shrines, etc. and change the pattern of your life completely. Remove all the prefixes and suffixes from your name, you know God didn't put them there. Just be as you are, a simple person. If you do this, in the course of time you will become humble.

The best way to eradicate the ego is to develop humility. There are many acts of humility and if you can practise even the easiest of them, in the course of time humility will become part of your nature. Chaitanya used to say there are four qualities to destroy egoism: Be as humble as a blade of grass, and as tolerant as a giant tree. Give respect to those of no respect, and remember the name of Hari (God) at all times.

Egoism can be obliterated in the course of time, but it is difficult. It is a virus and it is more dangerous than cancer. It is said that when identification with the body melts and the inner self is revealed, at that time the ego falls away just as a snake's scales are shed at the proper time. In the same way, ego cannot be removed prematurely. Don't be in a hurry.

I detest money and I know it doesn't bring happiness, but still I can't stop spending it. What should I do?

Utilise your passion for money to accomplish good work. Do not squander your wealth away in pubs and clubs. Utilise it with restraint and wisdom. Don't be swayed by the whimsical promptings of your mind. Keep some money for your family and for your day to day existence, then set apart the rest and use it in the best way you can think of to help in the awakening of humanity.