Theoretically, in order to attain balance of mind it is necessary to be aware, relaxed, centred and happy with every situation externally, internally, mentally and emotionally, and to be simple, natural, unassuming, free from pride and from attraction to the opposites of raga and dwesha, pain and pleasure. Yogis and the scriptures say that one must try to find balance by following a discipline which incorporates all these aspects of self-training, and make one balanced, contented, joyful and at peace with oneself.
On the practical side, it is more difficult as there are so many different factors involved. There are so many subtle ideas and expressions that sustain and nurture a human personality that it becomes difficult to be an observer. One becomes a part of things and loses one's balance, either on the happy or the sad side.
There are four points that can help one to attain mental balance. The first is regulating the extremes of the mental projections in the form of thoughts, emotions, desires or ambitions. The second is being observant, not just of oneself but also of the other people around. Just as you are aware of your personal necessities, in the same way become aware of the personal necessities of others. If you can do that, your interactions will be much more harmonious, balanced, creative and constructive. So, self-awareness has to extend outwards.
The third is to have trust in guru. Trust in guru has helped me because it has created a link which has taken away any sense of loneliness and isolation from life. There comes a time in everybody's life when they feel alone, and not only alone but lonely, maybe not needed or wanted. That has not affected me due to a link, an understanding and a connection with my guru.
The fourth point is surrendering to the divine will, not in a religious sense, but as a feeling. When someone sings a kirtan with the name Niranjanananda in it, I do not identify with that name, because who is that? Is that person this body which is sitting here? Then a sense of pride and ego would come up. Or is it the person who is singing, feeling and thinking about that unblemished, untainted, immaculate nature and bliss which the name conveys? I do not identify with the person of the name, but with the quality of that name.
I see a different dimension to that song, which many may not be able to see for they are identifying that name with a figure, a person, and not with the idea or concept it conveys.
I don't identify with God, although I know He is there. I think of God at times with full faith and devotion, but the rest of the time I am totally away from that thought. Similarly, why should I identify with this body? I may think about this body when it gets hungry or thirsty or when it needs rest and sleep, but when the body does not require these things, why think of it unnecessarily? I think of something that is creative and positive. Each one of us is self-indulgent in one way or another.
Therefore, the theory and the practicality of attaining mental balance are two different things altogether. The real trick is in having willpower, determination, conviction, faith and trust in oneself and the ability to forge ahead. These are the qualities necessary for attaining mental balance.
August 1997, Ganga Darshan, Munger, printed in YOGA, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Jul 2000)