Sadhguru answers a question on getting a grip on the mind, and looks at how asanas are a process of exploring how the body and mind work.
Questioner: Namaskaram, Sadhguru. Whenever I try to stop any negative emotion like anger, it only becomes stronger. How can I get a grip on how my mind works?
Sadhguru: If you try to stop what you don’t want, only that will happen. This has always been the nature of your mind and the human mind as such. The whole system of yoga is about experientially exploring the nature of your body and your mind. When you get up in the morning and do your asanas, it is not because it is a stretching exercise, as a whole lot of idiots across the planet describe it. Yes, you have to stretch to do it, but fundamentally, it is an exploration of your body and your mind. Because the biggest problem in your life is, you are trying to live here without having a grasp of the two basic vehicles without which you cannot go through this life – the physical body and the mind.
How comfortably you travel through life depends on how deeply you have grasped your body and your mind. For the journey to be comfortable, the vehicle has to be good, and you must understand the vehicle – how it behaves, what it does, and why it does what it does. This is not enlightenment – this is necessary even if you only want to live an ignorant life. They used to say, “Ignorance is bliss” – if that was true, the world should be blissed out by now.
Even if you have chosen to be ignorant because you think it is blissful, to walk through this world, you must have a grasp of this body and this mind. Otherwise, doing anything is a problem. I will not go into this further intellectually, because then you would get all wound up. That is why the yogic system is an experiential exploration without trying to go into it intellectually.
Asanas – Exploring how the body and mind work
When you do your asanas, you explore the nature of your body and your mind. If you move your fingers in a certain way, your mind will function accordingly. Everything that you do with your body does something with your mind. You will not come to this understanding by reading a book. It will come to you only by exploration. If you close your eyes and try to forcefully remove something from your mind, you will never be successful.
This is the most basic and at the same time the most important realization that everyone needs to come to. Without this realization, you will make a complete mess out of yourself. If you are not so sharp in your head, it will be okay. But if you are sharp, you will cut yourself all over, and before anyone can save you, you will be mutilated. Every day, such mutilated human beings come to me and say, “Sadhguru, I’m interested in enlightenment.” First fix the wounds, or at least stop causing further wounds, because you have a very sharp knife.
Even to shave themselves, a whole lot of men cut their faces. I have seen people bleeding in the face because they want to cut themselves close and it gets closer than planned. Understanding the fundamentals, grasping as to how your mind functions, does not come from an intellectual analysis – it is an exploration. What you need to do is, hold your body in one posture, and see your mind functions in a certain way. Hold your body in another posture, and see your mind functions in a different way.
If you stay in an asana and breathe properly, as you go through this process, the mind will go into various states. This exploration is the most fundamental aspect of yoga. Hatha Yoga is not the peak – it is preparatory. If you try to go to the peak without that preparatory step, you will probably crash. At least 80% of humanity will not be able to do any kind of meditation in their life unless they do some kind of physical preparation. The very way they sit, the very way they move their body, it is clear that they cannot meditate, no matter how hard they try. Some amount of physical preparation is needed, because body and mind are not two separate things – or is your brain outside your body?
What happens to your little finger happens to the brain. What happens to the brain happens to the little finger. It works both ways. The brain is not a separate entity by itself. Doctors have learned about the body by dissecting dead bodies – if you open a dead body and cut out different organs and keep them in different places, it is all separate. But that is not how your body is – it is all one. Only to a discriminating scalpel it is separate, but for a living human being, it is all one. That is why the yogic system is designed the way it is.
As an experiment, try to resist the things that you want. You will see they will manifest strongly within you. If you want something to happen, try to not make it happen. It will definitely happen. That is because you are in a state where when you want to put your mind in first gear, it goes into reverse gear. This is not the best way to do things, but you could try this to understand that this is how it is right now – if you resist something, only that will happen.
Doing your sadhana – It works!
From tomorrow, get up at five o’ clock in the morning, have a cold shower, and start your sadhana at 5:30, every day. After some time, so many things which were a problem in your mind will be gone. Just do your hatha yoga for an hour a day – it works. But if you want to understand how it works, what the mechanism and the process are, it takes a lot of effort and time. To make it work does not take much. But if you want to know the whole intricacy of what makes it happen, why it happens the way it happens, why a particular asana has a particular effect, then it is lifetimes of study.
Those who want to benefit from the technology should simply learn to use it. For those who want to know the basis and the science behind the technology, it is lifetimes of work. It took me three lifetimes to understand how it works. I am assuming you are smarter than me because you have come to me, and after all the things I do – no sweetness, no promise of heaven, no miracles, not even a pleasant word, no hug – you are still here. So, assuming you are smart, it is a lifetime of work.
Editor’s Note: "Body – The Greatest Gadget” includes more of Sadhguru’s insights into the mechanism and construction of the human body. The ebook can be purchased at Isha Downloads.