This article was originally posted in 2015. In these increasingly trying times, I felt it bears repeating.
From the very beginning of my study of Yoga-meditation with Swami Veda Bharati, he advised me to calm my emotions. Time and time again, over dozens of years, he gave me this guidance, over and over, seeming to miss no opportunity to do so. He was relentless. One time, at his ashram in India, I came down with a digestive problem, and he told me, “this condition is due to your emotions.” At the time I wasn’t sure he was right. He probably was.
Trusting that Swami Veda gave me this advice out of love and wisdom, I’ve struggled to unravel the secret of calming my emotions over many years. It’s been a quite a challenge.
Only recently have I come to understand the reason for Swami Veda’s advice. Here are Swami Veda’s own words explaining why: “Only a joyful mind, immersed in the beauty of the ever-present facets and faces of the Divine Mother can meditate. A mind laden with anguish, sorrow, anger, is not yet a vessel that has been prepared for meditation. Therefore, in your daily life, endeavor to make your mind joyful and beautiful; resonating to the floods of waves upon waves of joy and beauty that touch you, course through you, pass through you at every instant.”
No doubt, this is true. I’ve noticed that when I’m worried or in any way emotionally disturbed, meditation just doesn’t happen. Instead, at that time, rather than going into a state of meditation, my mind bounces in agitation, flitting from thought to thought. It’s only during the times when my mind is calm and happy that meditation has a chance to happen.
This is why many students in the Himalayan Tradition are advised to pacify their emotions.
Learning to pacify our emotions, to resolve our conflicts, relax our expectations, and cool our passions, is the path to meditation for many students. Progress on this path leads to a calm, meditative mind.