Try to maintain a constant and continuous awareness of your spiritual goal. The awareness has to be just like a mother's awareness of everything that a little baby is doing around the kitchen while she is cooking the food. She does not continuously watch what the baby is doing, but at the appropriate moment she ensures that the baby is safe from all dangers and hazards. What is reflected in the attention of the mother should also be reflected in the attention of a yogi.
There is no need to be constantly thinking, this is my spiritual goal, this is my aspiration, this is my target, this is my aim, but one part of the mind has to be continuously attentive to that goal. That urge has to be felt. With that urge there is also an expectation. If you have to meet your boyfriend or girlfriend in the evening, then the waiting begins in the morning. You do whatever else you have to do, but you are always looking forward to the time you will be able to meet your friend. That attentive expression of the self which the yogis try to awaken is known as the drashta, the witness, the seer, the observer. According to yoga, for this attitude to become permanent and long-lasting, you need to have self-control, you need to be able to manage the mind. First, chitta vritti nirodha and then drashta. This is one method.
Another method is that of a bhakta. A bhakta is not a devotee, a bhakta is one who has learnt to appreciate himself and what he is. It is the acceptance of myself as I am, I am what I am, with all the qualities, faults, eccentric behaviour, positive behaviour, good and bad thoughts. It is learning to appreciate oneself, accepting the situations and experiences as part of one's natural growth. Wherever there is growth, there is bound to be conflict and pain. This suffering can become manifest physically, socially, materially, financially, emotionally, spiritually or psychically. But the awareness that 'I am undergoing this experience' and not being swayed by the intensity of the experience are the symptoms of a person who meditates. They are the expressions of a person who follows the path of yoga, the path of tantra. This self-acceptance or self-appreciation with deep awareness of one's existence develops the drashta bhava also, the witnessing aspect of the self. So in the yogic process, there is mind management and then the drashta aspect is awakened. In this tantric approach, you are able to build up the qualities already inherent in you to develop the drashta aspect.
Of course, the second path, although it sounds simpler, is much more difficult and complex. When we are following the mind, there is a sequence, patterns of thoughts, patterns of fear and insecurity, patterns of association, attachment and affection, patterns of likes and dislikes, patterns of peace and aggression which manifest naturally and spontaneously in the mind. In the yogic process, we can become aware of these patterns and follow them to the end. But in a life where you have to be natural and spontaneous, where, rather than subjecting oneself to the whims of likes and dislikes, emotions, feelings and desires, you have to become more aware of the natural qualities inherent in you, that becomes a difficult process. However, once you get into the swing of realizing the qualities that you have and nurturing and applying those qualities for the betterment of your personal life and social interactions, then the vibration changes.
See which path is appropriate and applicable to you. The path of yoga is not to be negated, nor is the path of the bhakta. But you have to find your stability in one path or the other, there is no experimentation. So, attentive consciousness is what has to be maintained, not a meditative consciousness, because meditation is like a black hole - you get sucked into it - and attentive consciousness is like a white hole - you are propelled from that centre outwards.
It is this guidance that Krishna gave to Arjuna many times in the Bhagavad Gita: "Come out of yourself, come out of your mind patterns, become aware of your dharma and live according to the laws of dharma." Forget that you are the one who is suffering. Suffering is the law of nature. We suffer when somebody close leaves us, we suffer when we have to leave something, some area, some place, some person with whom we have developed a close affinity. Suffering is the law of life. So don't identify with the suffering, rather identify with the dharma and expand and grow outwards. But in growth maintain that attentive consciousness. You don't have to be continuously looking at something to keep that personal idea or object in mind, in focus. Live a natural, spontaneous life and maintain attentive consciousness, then you can experience the fulfilment of yoga in your life.
Ganga Darshan, December 4, 2000