To Subdue Body and Mind

By Rudra Shivananda

Living in Calm and Solitude
Subduing body and his Mind
Within himself in gratitude
Ridding Desires of all Kind

– from poem Yogi
by Yogiraj Siddhanath

It is always instructive to study the words of great Masters, whether past of present in order to keep ourselves on the true path. This verse is not a call to run off to the hills and caves or give up all social interactions. It is easier to appear to be calm when one is all alone in a cave, but the true test comes when in the midst of interruptions, noise and other disruptive influences, one can keep the calm. Only the calm that comes from being tempered in the forge of the hurly-burly life of a householder can stay the test of time.


The enemy to be subdued is restlessness. The physical body moves and fidgets, the toes tap and the fingers twiddle. The mind is a monkey that runs here and there to get entangled in the scorpion nest of sense desires or climbs up a tree to be eaten by the panther of subconscious impulses. The practice of self-control brings about a steady body and a still mind. The physical body is controlled by maintaining tension-free and steady postures or asanas. The mind is controlled by the cultivation of the five restraints or yamas – truthfulness, non-harming, turning one’s energy towards spirituality, non-stealing and non-attachment to worldly things.

True solitude eludes us because of the dichotomy of body and mind. When body and mind are subdued and they are seen to be only the manifestation of spirit – when body and mind become one with spirit, then true solitude is attained.

As the body and mind become purified, contentment or santosha arises. The karmic imprints or samskaras which give rise to all kinds of desires are then amenable to be removed or burnt off by the fire of the yogi’s practice. The very movements in the mind becomes controlled – the vrittis no longer trouble the yogi. As the layers of ignorance are removed, the yogi lives more and more in his true nature, his true Self. A sense of gratitude to the spiritual guide or Guru and to the Divine arises in the heart of the yogi – not an emotion that comes and goes but a state of Grace that is true devotion or bhakti.

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