To control the mind, we understand what the mind is. In the Vedic tradition, the mind is called antah karana – an inner instrument. The body is bahya karana, an external instrument. This antah karana, inner instrument is four fold. Born of the sattvika aspect of the panchamahabhutas, the mind is actually looked at as a four fold faculty because it has four functions – Manas, Buddhi, Chittam, Ahankara
Manas, loosely translated as the mind – Sankalpavikalpaatmakam manah When there is desire or doubt or emotion, we call it manas or mind. –
Buddhi loosely translated as the intellect – Nischayaatmika buddhi – When there is distinct knowledge or a decision taken, a resolve or will, then we call it determinate knowledge or buddhih.
Chittam loosely translated as memory – Chintan kartra karma – When there is recollection of any incident along with sense data then that function is called chittam.
Ahankara loosely translated as the ego, or self concept- Ahankartaahankritih – The one who identifies with the manas, buddhi, chittam – is I , ahankara, Really speaking, I is the limitless Atma but identified with these is a limited individual, ahankara.
Do note that these are NOT four entities. Different names do not mean different entities. Each of these four words is used to indicate a different function of the same inner instrument or mind. And hence we make a 4 fold separation, although it is the same mind.
Anyone who asks ‘How to control my mind’ is seeking to control –
manas – repetitive thoughts, overpowering desires or overwhelming emotions of fear, sadness or anger.
chittam – memories of difficult incidents,
buddhi – thoughts leading upto a decision related to manas
ahankara – self concept
Mastery is a better word than control.
Some of the things we gain when our mind is mastered are –
Better mood regulation and reduced stress. E.g. If one is stressed in the work role, then one can keep it aside while playing with one’s child.
Aligning with Dharma g. You are angry with your son for speaking rudely to you but eh anger does not consume you because you value ahimsa as well as self-expression. Rather than slapping or humiliating your son, you are able to say – I can see that you are angry. I am upset at hearing what you are saying. These words are not acceptable to me. Please do not talk to me like this.
Better decision making as we can give up the instant gratification of the short term and focus on the long term. E.g. Investing in mutual funds rather than blowing up all the money. Saying no to the second piece of chocolate brownie. Not shifting to the next job just because it pays a little more money but thinking strategically about money as well as opportunities and furthering one’s career
Enhanced focus and efficiency – We can prioritise what is important and avoid distractions. Mantra Japa practice helps us to return again and again to the mantra although the mind may go all over for a world tour or even an inter-galactic tour.
Fulfillment of our pursuits – To stay the course, be it the pursuit of wealth, pleasure, contribution to society or even the moksha pursuit, a mastered mind gives us the persistence and fortitude to overcome obstacles and achieve our goals.