How Can I Control My Mind?

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Who is controlling who? You say, “I want to control my mind.” Are you different from your mind? Who is trying to control the mind? Or is one aspect of the mind saying, “I need to control the other aspect of my dynamic nature?” If you say, “I want to control the mind,” it is incorrect and wrong. The mind cannot control itself. The whole idea of controlling is incorrect.

Observation versus control

Yoga does not speak of control but of becoming the observer, the drashta. There is a big difference between control and drashta. In yoga, the use of the word ‘control’ does not exist. The word ‘observation’ is used in the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali (1:3):

Tada drashtu swaroope avasthanam.

Then the seer is established (abides) in his own essential nature.

If you are the observer, you are simply a witness to every game that happens around you. When you see children play, you are sitting on your chair and watching the children play. You are not controlling the children. You are simply observing the children. If you want to control the children, you have to stop observing and start to involve yourself with them.

Either there is involvement or there is observation. Through involvement you are trying to control and that is not going to happen. Through observation you can separate yourself from the influences of the environment and that is possible. Then there is no control, only observation and application of wisdom with observation.

How can the mind control itself? It is like saying, “I will control myself.” When do you control yourself! Do you control yourself when you walk? Do you control yourself when you eat? Do you control yourself when you drink? Do you control yourself when you speak to people? When can you control yourself?

Extreme and normal behaviour

It is an incorrect idea which becomes reality when you are in extreme behaviours. If you are angry, somebody can say, “Control yourself,” meaning the extreme behaviour of anger. If you are nervous, somebody can tell you, “Control yourself.” Therefore, control is for extreme behaviour.

Control is for extreme behaviour; observation and modulation is for normal behaviour. You cannot control the mind in normal behaviour and you cannot observe the mind in extreme behaviour. The roles have to change.

Therefore, do your simple yoga of observation, concentration and meditation; that is enough. Slow and steady wins the race.

—29 November 2015, Ganga Darshan, Munger