Cultivating Sattvic State of Mind
Q. What do you feel are the prerequisites for Shaktipat, say if one is interested?
Ans: One should be absolutely clear as to why one wants it. Are you chasing some fancy idea of liberation, or are you completely willing to give up the sense of personal self-identification?
Once the energy starts moving, it’s difficult to stop it. The feeling is the same as when you sign up for something you think you deeply desire but seeing the hardships, you now want to quit, but it’s too late because you’re deep into it.
I caution people who go this path because their minds are usually not prepared for the intensity of the energy. There is only one prerequisite – a clear mind.
Q. What do you mean by a clear mind?
Ans: Okay. If you understand this, the rest of the discussion is a mere formality. When the energy manifests to create the world of names and forms, it has three characteristics:
- Tamas (Inertia)
- Rajas (Activity)
- Sattva (Harmony)
The energy appears as the mind in consciousness and “borrows” the above three qualities. When the mind is tamasic, it is in a state of inertia, which can also be thought of as laziness. How does the mind become lazy? Through indiscipline.
For example, when we consume a high-calorie diet coupled with less physical activity, the mind becomes lethargic. Then if we sit for meditation, it’s likely that we’ll doze off. Not only that, but it also affects sleep and overall well-being.
When the mind is rajasic, it is overly active, corresponding to restlessness, excitement, and anxiety. It is the craving mind. It craves shiny objects and is always eager to “do” anything to attain them. Every time it wants to achieve something or grab a desirable state.
Physiologically, our body cannot differentiate between anxiety and excitement. I can relate to it because, as a former software developer, I used to consume 6 to 8 cups of coffee every day. A rajasic mind is difficult to satisfy. The moment one desire is fulfilled, it begins to crave another.
And the last is the sattvic mind – a pure and clear mind that is in harmony with its content. This mind does not reject or resist any feeling, thought, or emotion. It is the witnessing mind. It witnesses both the arising and disappearing of all content in consciousness.
Therefore, it knows that anything that arises is impermanent and is not the final truth. It sees that its own existence is also an illusion. The sattvic mind remains restful and clears channels for the energy to activate and ascend.
Q. How do we cultivate a sattvic mind? My mind is mainly preoccupied with random thoughts, and it’s hard for me to meditate. No matter how hard I try to control my thinking, I can’t do it.
Ans: You see, this is a classic mistake. A harmonious mind never controls anything. It simply witnesses the arising and disappearing of thoughts without labeling them.
That’s what mindfulness is. This act of non-judgmental and non-reactive “seeing” dissipates the afflicting energy associated with a particular thought, feeling, or emotion.
It creates a sense of separation from the content of the experience. Just examine who is trying to control thinking? It’s the ego again. The classic mistake people make is that they try to block thinking forcefully through viligance.
That’s fighting with the mind and is always a losing battle. Reactivity is the unconscious behavior of the conditioned mind. These are unconscious patterns that create conflicts and pain in life. So drop the vigilance and be watchful.
Try this simple experiment. Next time you experience an afflicting emotion, suspend all activity and place your full awareness on that emotion without offering any resistance. By not reacting to uncomfortable feelings, you don’t give them the energy to propagate. You experience separation from the mind’s contents.
It is the nature of the mind to crave desirable objects. It never sticks to one desire, goal, or ambition. And this may sound strange, but the mind tends to get attached to the past traumas as well. And I’m not being insensitive here.
I was depressed for many years because I was attached to a self-created false image. My story of victimhood gave me the attention I craved. And so, I was unable to get out of that mindset and suffered. I loved it when people sympathized because it gave me attention.
When the understanding dawned, it was the end of “me and my story.” I became life-sensitive as opposed to ego-sensitive. This new sensitivity opened up my heart.
I acknowledge the damage that happened, and I don’t deliberately put myself in harm’s way. But at the same time, I don’t hold any resentment or hatred towards the people who did wrong.
The “me” that wanted revenge is not there anymore. And believe me, it was not an easy journey. There’s nothing more challenging than confronting your innermost demons.
And we all have them, but over time, as the witnessing happens, the afflicting memories, thoughts, and emotions begin to lose their grip on the ego. The ego begins to question, “Is this my doing?”
The awareness burns all that arises from the vast depths of the subconscious and unconscious. We may not be able to change some traits, but the light of awareness renders them powerless.
In one of his lectures, Jiddu Krishnamurthy said that if we’re totally attentive to a troubling thought, it loses its power to influence us.
A sattvic mind is a witnessing mind. It’s the light of awareness that burns all karma. Therefore, if you’re able to live consciously, the Kundalini cannot harm you in any way. It will recognize you as Shiva, and the surrender will happen spontaneously.
The blockages in energy’s path are caused by the thinking mind that believes itself to be the doer of all actions. We live in a world that is obsessed with the idea of achievement and glory. The overemphasis on hustle culture, money, fame, adulation, and recognition puts us in a frenzy.
It creates a need for never-ending validation of the “personal self.” How do you satisfy “that” that does not exist and doesn’t even know what it is chasing and why?
Sometimes, people get too excited about chakras and Kundalini, which itself creates a roadblock in the path of self-realization. Humans are “beings,” but we mistakenly believe ourselves to be the “doing.” We keep chasing thrill and excitement, mistaking them to be happiness.
While it’s okay to enjoy little things like a cup of coffee, occasional wine, and other small pleasures, it becomes problematic when we use (or abuse) them to suppress the underlying pain and discomfort.
I witnessed this phenomenon clearly while I lived in isolation. Initially, my mind would often get restless when it didn’t achieve the required levels of dopamine hits.
Being in the tech industry for so long, I was addicted to gadgets. Only when I moved away from these gadgets did I know the impact they had on my mind. For me, they were the source of constant anxiety. I didn’t like reading books because watching videos online offered a cheap source of dopamine hits.
In the absence of distraction, I started witnessing how I used subtle diversion mechanisms to distract myself from the underlying pain.
That’s why I emphasize conscious living through discipline. Don’t mistake the word discipline for a forced punishing routine. It doesn’t mean that you have to wake up at 3:00 am early in the morning and meditate for 4 hours or practice complicated Yoga poses.
It simply means living in awareness (the now) as and when it arises. I understand that all of the above pointers about conscious living are clichés. Everybody knows, but only a few follow. It is what I call unconscious living – when you know the right thing to do but end up doing the opposite. And it’s okay.
Our body has an intelligence of its own, so it doesn’t always listen to the mind.
Think of the body like an elephant and the mind as the mahout (rider). The mahout directs, and the elephant obeys. But if the elephant sees a bunch of bananas, it may not listen to the instructions and go for the treat. So your mind says that you should work out, but you end up grabbing a savory snack.
Don’t fight the mind. Just witness the whole process of mind setting an intention and how your body chooses to act. You don’t have to fight your urges – “see” them for what they are.
This awareness, over time, will bring about the change when you’re ready. The more effort you put or force your way into changing things, the more you will strengthen your unconscious patterns.
Sometimes the ego creates a different shell. Instead of escaping the pain through indulgences and addictions, it immerses itself in work. For example, some people who don’t get parental validation during childhood become overachievers in adulthood.
There is a constant need to prove oneself. They become workaholics. Again, it is the ploy of the ego to avoid pain. These people become great achievers, perfectionists, and highly successful in their careers, but internally, they are haunted by loneliness.
They see parental figures in people with authority and influence, and hence, they start craving validation from them. They emulate their behaviors and want to be like them.
The problem is that the inner child that craves attention and validation cannot be satisfied because it lives in an adult’s body. The inner child results from childhood conditioning and is a part of the illusory “me.” The idea is not to eliminate the inner child – the source of the highest creativity – but to heal the wounds.
I’m not going to go into the inner-child work because that’s a separate topic in and of itself, but the understanding is that a harmonious mind is free from past conditioning and does not create obstructions in the energy flow.
Focus on conscious living, which includes building healthy habits. People think that Kundalini will get rid of anxiety, depression, and other problems, but that’s not the purpose of Kundalini Yoga. The word Yoga means “union.” It is the dissolution of the limited self and realization of the absolute.
Most people believe that Yoga is only for body fitness because it’s heavily advertised and commercialized that way. If you look at the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, the approach follows the eight elements of practice (ashtanga) to reach the final conscious presence or emptiness (samadhi).
However, the conventional Yoga practice emphasizes only one aspect – physical exercises (asanas).
While there’s nothing wrong with doing exercises only, it defeats the higher purpose of Yoga, i.e., mind-body integration. One look at the Instagram profile of Yoga teachers, and all we see are body contortions.
Over-identification with physical appearance and body image creates different problems. What is the benefit of a fit body with an unfit mind? Duality creates separation between body and mind, but in essence, they are one. Without a sound mind, you won’t know how to take care of the body, and vice-versa.