Have you heard of fitness routine for mind? There are numerous recreational activities to keep our body beautiful, lean and fit, but does it allow silencing the monkey mind? Can we get over emotions of anger, agitation, envy, compulsive consumerism? Like the body, mind needs to be fit and healthy to have complete body-mind-soul well-being. Let’s talk about the human mind, its states, and the mind gym exercises you can practice to improve the health of your mind.
Five States of Mind
Science says that human brain is the total of memory and intelligence in the body. Yoga, however, has an altogether a different philosophy in this context. Yogis talk of five energetic sheaths around the body and mind is a part of one of those sheaths.
- The first sheath is the physical body which is made of food we eat.
- The second sheath is the energetic body which gives energy to the physical body to function.
- The third sheath is the mental body that consists of senses, thought processes and awareness.
- The fourth sheath is the subtle body of intellect, which gives us the ability to direct our lives in good or bad direction.
- The fifth sheath is the subtle-most body, which is not very developed in humans but apparent in saints, sages, and mystics who experience spiritual bliss.
Coming to five states of mind, here’s what Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the basic philosophical writings of yoga, tells:
An agitated state when a person is unable to think. The attention of the person is easily distracted like a jumping monkey. The person is restless, moves from one emotion to another, fluctuates between love and hate, has expectations and disappointments.
It is a dull, listless or forgetful state of mind. You might have a book in hand and will still be looking for it. Indulging in productive work gets hard. Sadness and depression take control over your mind.
The mind is confused and unable to process information. You know everything but don’t know how to go about it. Though you can focus partially but will get easily distracted.
The mind is relaxed but not sleepy and ready to focus or learn new things.
The mind is wholly focussed not distracted by any thought. It is usually a meditative state.
Our mind can fluctuate from any of the above states. However, in some people, one state could be predominant than the others. Our sense organs are always projected outwards. When sense organs fall on an object of desire, they create different states of minds. Therefore, yoga science emphasizes on diverting the senses inwards so that mind does not move from one emotion to another. But, to achieve this, mind has to be directed to work in a particular way.
Improving the Health of Mind
The mind is like a sheepdog, fiercely active when involved in work but dangerously destructive without any work. When you set clear instructions, it does an amazing job. But, when there’s no work or clear instructions, it proves the Biblical proverb “Empty mind is devil’s workshop”right. The good thing is that these states of mind can be brought into conscious awareness. They can be modified by keeping the mind occupied with meaningful activities.
A few techniques mentioned below will definitely help in shifting the energies and bringing mind to the calm relaxing state.
Mind and breath are intimately connected. When we are angry or agitated, the breathing is heavy but when we are relaxed breathing is shallow. Practice breath work daily for 10 minutes, and it will work wonders in calming the mind. Breathe in through nose counting five in mind and breathe out counting ten times from the mouth. Counting should be done in the mind. Breathing rhythmically is the key to change the state of mind as it radically impacts the way we think.
It is a good idea to begin the day with 15 minutes of reading. Reading should be pleasurable and inspiring like self-help books, spiritual or classical literature, positive thinking books and not social media messages or newspaper which are constantly bombarding with propaganda.
Our mind needs a routine. It constantly needs to know what to do next. Therefore, you must set the tone of the day every morning. Even if you have a hectic work life, set aside some time to listen to music, play games, write, read, watch a movie, or do anything that interests you.
If you are agitated, anxious, stressed out, physical activity like dancing or cardio work-out or going out for a walk can bring an instant shift in the energy. Whenever depressing thoughts overburden the mind, any kinesthetic activity will bring rapid change in mood.
Setting short-term and long-term goals for personal life is just as important as it is for professional life. This could be an essential step towards becoming how you want to see yourself a few years down the line. Setting goals could be anything from improving relationships to learning a hobby activity (music or dance) to traveling to writing to reading or doing anything that you feel inclined to. Create visual boards of detail plans of the goals for each day, as this will help the mind to focus on how to move ahead. It will also help us face our fears, shortcomings and keep us motivated in life.
Donation of labor
Donation of labour is offering free services of one’s skills by giving time to serve the needy people in the society, for example, a teacher can give free lessons to disadvantaged children once a week. Other activities could be imparting computer skills to senior citizens or visiting orphanages or age care centers. It can be very therapeutic to render selfless service. Also, associating with such acts give a purpose to your life and make your existence meaningful.
Reprogram your Subconscious Mind
The new age Guru, Dr. Wayne Dyer, believes that if we condition our mind about what we want to create in our life every night, we can change our lives substantially. We have the strength to attract whatever we are focusing on into our lives. If we focus on the lack of money in life, we will attract poverty and bankruptcy. Hence it means, we can create our neural pathway. We have a routine in life because we have conditioned our brain to follow the routine. However, we can change this hard wiring of the brain. Every thought we send to brain creates a new stimulus, and if that thought is affirmed regularly it can dominate the neural pathways we have built over the years. Positive affirmations and its repetitions can create new neural pathways and change our lives the way we want to change it.
Try this technique: Close your eyes and place one palm on the forehead and another on the back of the head where the neck meets the head. Repeat affirmations to create a life of abundance and fulfillment. Do it several times before sleep every night.
The well-being of our mind is as important as the well-being of our body. If the mind is engaged with conscious planning, it will automatically stay away from destructive thoughts. It is vital for humans to understand their state of mind, and practice the necessary steps to improve the health of the mind. This will not only help you evolve as a human but will also benefit the people around you or those who are related to you in any form. I hope that above-listed techniques will certainly help in keeping your mind and body in a healthy state.