How to quieten the mind?
How many of us can keep quiet at least for a few minutes? Observe your thoughts and see how the thoughts arise one by one? Naturally, every one is agitated when thoughts arise without any respite. Only a very few can divert these thought pattern. Sometimes, thoughts are so confusing, we become dejected and depressed. If you force the mind to keep quiet, it will rise with more force! Thoughts are like ether. None can contain it or control it. They arise due to food and environment. Hence the ancient sages used to consume only fruits, fibres,green leaves and vegetables and a little butter milk. They also eat nuts and grains which gives strength and sustenance. Their mind will be calm and they can concentrate on god without much effort.
Look at the householders. They consume all and sundry. They never differentiate. There are certain orthodox sects in India who never consume onion or garlic. They avoid even cabbage, cauliflower etc. When you ask them, they will give the reason that onion, garlic, cabbage , cauliflower and even radish are like non-vegetarian food which will induce baser qualities as well as animal qualities. But we can not adopt such strict orthodox ways. However these foods have subtle effects on our thought pattern. Though the above items are good in medical view, they are not conducive for spiritual practices. Psychiatrists, philosophers and psychologists are always trying to find the origin and nature of thoughts but none is successful. Even ancient philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and the like have written extensively on the subject. We can prove physical entities but how can we substantiate on abstract things like thoughts and mind.
Sri Sathya Saibaba has clarified on this so that even a lay man can understand. He has said that the mind is like a piece of cloth woven from threads. The threads are the thoughts. When they are woven as warp and woof, we get a cloth. When we remove each thread and when all the threads are removed, there won't be any cloth at all. Likewise, the mind is a web formed by thoughts. Remove those thoughts skill fully. Then there won't be any mind to recognize. We have seen how the mother feed a child. The child will be running halter skelter. The mother too runs behind the child to feed it. So long as the mother is following it, the child will run here and there without any fear or faltering. The moment, mother stops pursuing the child, the child will get panicky and run towards the mother. You have to deal with your mind thus wise. Do not run behind the thoughts. Remain indifferent to the thoughts them self. Do not react or judge those thoughts. Simply observe them. The moment, you stop pursuing the thoughts and remain where you are, thoughts starts to slow down. This is the secret of the mind. When you continuously start practising the 'witness state', thoughts will subside on its own and there will be a time, when you enjoy a thoughtless state which is pure bliss!
I will clarify this point further. There is a pellucid lake amid the forest. Since there is no wind due to thick growth, the lake's surface will be still. You will be able to notice the things clearly even if they are in the depth. Throw a small pebble on the surface. It will cause ripples and the small pebble has created disturbance in the lake's surface. In the stillness of our conscious, even a single thought will create ripple. It may be good or bad thought. Nevertheless, they cause ripples. Hence those who intend to quieten their mind, should become a 'mute witness' to the thought pattern. Of course, in the initial stages, it is a bit difficult but when you start practising the witness state, you will gain confidence. When you are established in the witness state, no thought will disturb you since the thoughts will subside!
In deep sleep state, every body enjoys tranquillity. This is the experience of all people! Why? In deep sleep, the mind merges in the self and hence there is bliss. In dream state, the mind is active and hence we undergo all problems as in the waking state. Hence contemplate deeply on this and enjoy the bliss!