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6. Train your Body | Train your Mind

How much money is spent on gym memberships? How much time is dedicated to grooming the body? How many elaborate plans are made to invigorate our physical vitality?
Keeping the body fit, healthy and attractive is clearly a top priority for most people. While fixated on the external shell, however, we may have skipped a beat.
Take a look at your phone. The screen may be cracked, the battery knackered and the cover ripped, but you’re still carrying it and the phone does its job. If the operating system crashes, however, the entire gadget becomes defunct; everything grinds to a halt. Attention to the invisible, intangible and subtle components of anything is absolutely essential. Thus, a wise person reflects on their life and asks – “I’m maintaining the hardware of my existence, but what am I doing for the software of my existence?” There’s no point in a beautiful body minus a beautiful mind.
In Chapter Six, Krishna further explores identity and self-care. As spiritual beings, particles of consciousness, we possess two bodies, gross and subtle. The gross comprises of the visible physical frame, while the subtle consists of the invisible mind, intelligence and ego. The subtle body acts as an interface between the spirit and the gross. As spiritual beings, if we’re able to appropriately harness the mind, it acts as a friend which supports and empowers us in the progressive journey of life. If not, the mind can deviate, discourage and damage us. From day-to-day, hour-to-hour and moment-to-moment, it can operate as the unseen enemy within.
Everyone can appreciate that we need steadiness of mind. When Arjuna, a consummate warrior of unparalleled strength, confesses that controlling the mind is more difficult than controlling the wind, Krishna reassures him that it is indeed possible. How? By detachment (vairagya) and discipline (abhyasa).
First, we must learn to mind our mind; become an observer of the chatter. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of identifying with every message that goes through our head. After all, the spirit soul is beyond the subtle and gross coverings. This vision of non-identification helps us utilise the positive, functional and empowering thoughts, leaving aside the negative, wasteful and destructive ones. Some thoughts, though tempting and exciting, divert us from our purpose. We shouldn’t give up what we want most, for what feels good now. Through detachment, we learn to ignore many of the minds unwarranted demands.
Secondly, we need discipline. Former US President, Harry S. Truman, once said: “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first.” Detachment helps quieten the mind, and discipline then remoulds the mind. Krishna proposes daily spiritual practice with particular emphasis on early morning meditation. Such transformational practices can shift one’s internal state if embraced with patience and perseverance. Though we naturally rebel against a regimen, that daily application is absolutely necessary. Otherwise we fall short of our potential. The pain of discipline is uncomfortable, but the pain of regret is unbearable.

“For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.” (Bhagavad-Gita 6.6)

References

6.34 – The characteristics of an uncontrolled mind.