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Forging a Powerful Mind

Teach your students to purify and calm their minds, and to unleash mental power and intuition.

By Dr. Swami Shankardev Saraswati

When the mind is silent and peaceful, it becomes very powerful. It can become a receptor of bliss and wisdom, enabling life to become a spontaneous flow and expression of joy and harmony. However . . . this inner silence cannot arise while there is a continual stream of disturbing thoughts and emotions. All this inner noise has to be removed before one can truly experience the soundless sound of inner silence.
-Swami Satyananda Saraswati

The aim of all yoga teaching is to help our students unfold their potential and become relaxed, strong, and integrated beings. In order to achieve this, we must teach them to manage their minds. This is because the mind is potentially a vast, luminous, creative power. However, when most people come to a yoga class, they have not worked with their minds. Indeed, many people find that their mind is their biggest problem, because it is undeveloped and undisciplined. In my experience, the majority of students are seeking methods to calm and manage their minds.

Taming the Animal Mind
It is because the mind is so powerful that it is difficult to manage. The untrained mind has been likened to a wild horse. Once tamed, it is a great friend; but untamed, it is a wild animal that can turn on us.

Our mind can be the solution to our problems or the source of all our problems. An untrained and undisciplined mind is a jumble of chaotic thoughts and feelings that can lead to poor perception, confusion, and destructive emotions. A trained and disciplined mind, on the other hand, is a powerful tool that can think clearly, creatively solve many daily problems, and work to realize its desires and dreams.

We need to teach our students methods by which they can discipline but also enlighten the mind. In this way, they will gradually become the masters of powerful, happy, compassionate, heart-centered minds.

The Twofold Mind
The first step in teaching students to face and manage their minds is to teach them that the human mind has two major divisions. The first is a "lower" mind, which is connected to the senses and allows us to operate in the world. This is our thinking mind. The second is a more subtle part of the mind that links us to higher consciousness. This is our intuitive mind.

The lower mind has three main components: a rational, thinking mind (manas), a memory bank (chitta), and an ego or sense of individuality (ahamkara). Manas measures sense impressions and stores these in our chitta, or memory bank. The build-up of these impressions creates our ahamkara, our sense of who we are as human personalities. The higher mind is called the buddhi. It is connected to consciousness and, when activated by meditation, it has the characteristics of intelligence, intuition, knowledge, faith, generosity, compassion, and wisdom. Otherwise, it tends to remain dormant, dominated by the louder and often more compelling lower mind. In teaching the student about the mind, the yoga teacher must use techniques that foster the buddhi and allow it to regulate the other elements of the mind. Otherwise the lower mind will rule.

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l work as a registered nurse in a psychiatric hospital. is alternate nostril breathing safe to do with patients who are emotional disturd.?for example post traumatic stress patients .a lot can not cope with progressive relaxtion as disturding thoughts fill there mind when attempting same.Where to begin ? thanks

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