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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

The Monkey Mind
An undeveloped mind is dominated by tamas, darkness and selfishness. It is a mind often preoccupied by worry and such lower emotions as insecurity, greed, rage, and petty judgments. This is the monkey mind, which does what it wants when it wants. Emotions and desires can erupt at any time, compelling us to act and react. In this situation, the buddhi is asleep.

It is very easy for the lower mind to become a problem if we do not exercise our minds through self-discipline. Using meditation, however, we can forge a luminous, cohesive force, with each of the mind's elements working in support of each other and of our life as a whole.

Exercising the Mind
There are many methods by which we can pacify and tame the lower mind and activate and awaken the higher mind. One of the best ways to do this is to focus the attention of the student at the eyebrow center, also called the third eye or ajna chakra. This is the point that controls all the levels of the mind, both lower and higher. When it is stimulated by yogic and meditative processes, it calms the thoughts and emotions and allows the deeper and subtler intuitive elements to manifest.

The eyebrow center is the first psychic center that students should focus on, as it safely links us to higher intuitive consciousness. Two simple methods of working with the eyebrow center are Chanting Om and Alternate-Nostril Breathing.

Chanting Om
As class is beginning, get your students to sit in a comfortable posture and let go of as much of the day as they can, so as to come into the present moment. Then direct their attention to the eyebrow center and ask them to visualize a point of light or a candle flame at this place. Instruct the class to chant the mantra Om as a group for as long as their breath allows. Repeat the mantra three times and then sit in the silence for as long as feels appropriate.

Repeat this process at the end of your teaching session as a way of directing the energy generated in class to awaken higher consciousness.

This practice also works as a meditation during class. Students initially chant Om three times together and then begin the practice at their own pace. Continue chanting the mantra Om at your own pace for about five to 10 minutes. Afterward just sit and notice the sense of deep relaxation and peace that this wonderful yet simple process cultivates.

Alternate-Nostril Breathing
After completing asana practice, sit quietly and focus your students' attention on the eyebrow center. Observe the breath moving in the nostrils, up on inhalation and down on exhalation. Then direct your students only to observe the breath rising in the left nostril on inhalation and falling in the right nostril on exhalation; then rising in the right nostril on inhalation and falling in the left nostril on exhalation. Continue this for a few minutes and notice how the mind has calmed down.

By working on a daily basis with these practices, students will gradually learn to calm their minds when they need to, to relax and sleep more deeply, and to experience less wear and tear from an unruly, undisciplined monkey mind.

Dr. Swami Shankardev is a yogacharya, medical doctor, psychotherapist, author, and lecturer. He lived and studied with his guru, Swami Satyananda, for 10 years in India (1974-1985). He lectures all over the world. Contact him at

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Reader Comments


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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