Samādhi reflects the state of one’s mind. Only when the mind is devoid of any vāsanā-s, one can enter the state of samādhi. A normal human mind is full of vāsanā-s, which is explained as the impression of anything remaining unconsciously in the mind; the present consciousness of past perceptions; knowledge derived from memory. Vāsanā-s are active only in our subconscious mind. Conscious mind also has vāsanā-s, but such vāsanā-s, do not last long. Whether it is conscious mind or unconscious mind, we have to dissolve both these minds. When the mind is dissolved, it means all latent vāsanā-s are destroyed. Thought processes or the process of thinking affects the mind, leave impressions in the mind, which over a period of time gets embedded as vāsanā-s in subconscious mind. Such latent impressions often percolate into conscious mind, taking away our attention in seeking Brahman within. Normal meditation is disturbed only by such vāsanā-s. Mind is considered as a thief by King Janaka, who says that the mind steals the Self within. When the mind is controlled, all miseries are destroyed, leading to experience of bliss. Arjuna once told Krishna that it is easier to control the wind than to control the mind.
There are two ways to conquer the mind; one is physical practices and another method is to train and tame the mind. Physical practices involve controlling the sensory organs. This is said to be the best way to control the mind, but extremely difficult to follow, by remaining in the material world. It is said that those who do not follow either of the methods, lose sight of a lamp and are just trying to dispel darkness with darkness. We are not saints and sages of ancient days performing tapas in a highly secluded forest. We have to live in this material world for our sustenance by default and in lawful manner to expend our karmic impressions. The second method is spiritual method such as keeping company of good people, destruction of existing and latent desires, regularly practicing prāṇāyāma and following spiritual practices. When we associate ourselves with good people, who discuss gnosis, it is called satsaṅga. Listening to lectures in a crowd is not satsaṅga, where only soliloquy prevails. Satsaṅga should increase our spiritual knowledge and should be in the form interactive sessions. One should specifically avoid the company of those who have spiritual arrogance, as this would pamper our ego and damage our spiritual quest. Ego and pride, pomp and vanity are the main deterrent factors in Self-realization.
There are two factors that work on the mind and they are vāsanā and prāṇa. If vāsanā-s are strong, then only by manipulating prāṇa, these vāsanā-s can be neutralized. Sage Vasiṣṭha said, “Vāsanā acts on flow of prāṇa, which in its turn reacts on vāsanā and these two are like seed and sprout in the matter of producing a tree called mind”. From the above, we can understand that mind has two seeds (sprout is also considered as seed); one is latent desire and another is flow of prāṇa. When one is destroyed, automatically, the other one is also destroyed. As we know, prāṇa can be controlled by practicing prāṇāyāma. Practice of prāṇāyāma is more important than chanting mantra japa or spending time on meditation. Quality of meditation is important than duration of meditation. Japa also helps the mind to stay calm, provided one concentrates on the mantra. All mantras have subtle energy that work on our mind and erases the impressions in both subconscious and conscious mind. But there should be complete merger of mantra, its Devata and the one who does mantra japa. These three are the three dots of a triangle. When the triangle is constricted to form as a single dot, there remains only one dot, wherein, all the three dots have become one. This should be the stage of the one, who does mantra true sādhana.
Proper flow of prāṇa controls our mind. Hence, manoeuvring prāṇa is termed as prāṇāyāma and given so much of importance. What we cannot achieve through our will can be achieved by prāṇāyāma. Vāsanā can be wiped out, by carrying out duties as said by Krishna in Karma Yoga of Bhagavad Gītā. He says that we should do our duty without any attachment to the end result of an action. While performing such duties, we should think that physical body is perishable and this thought process will not allow any other thought processes to percolate into our mind. This way, we will not accrue any further vāsanā-s. Thus, latent impressions called vāsanā-s will get eliminated from our mind due to prāṇāyāma and we will be performing our actions without attachment. This state is called amanaska or without mind or no-mind. When the normal mind becomes amanaska, Bliss, also known as Ānanda enters the mind, which is part of Brahman, who is Saccidānanda. If the mind is not controlled effectively, any amount of sādhana will not help. Apart from subduing the mind, one’s sitting posture during meditation and the food consumed are also important. A good preceptor will guide a seeker on all these aspects. His teachings should be meticulously followed to realize the Self within, the ultimate aim of everyone in this life.