making your mind an offering

by carlydevi

mayy eva mana adhatsva / mayi buddhim nivesaya /

nivasisyasi mayy eva / ata urdhvam na samsaya

keep your mind on me alone, your intellect on me, thus you shall dwell on me from on, there is no doubt of this.

Bhagavad Gita XII.8

Featured imagewhenever i first hear a verse of the Bhagavad Gita, i go through a 3 step process towards understanding it:

  1. first there is confusion, the verse seems bigger than me and i don’t understand what it means
  2. then, comprehension, i begin to understand philosophically what it means
  3. finally application, something in my own life happens and suddenly the verse seems to be written just for me, in my own vernacular and as clear as the sky on a summers day.

the mind is active all the time. while brushing your teeth, sitting on the subway, even while engaged in conversation, there is (or at least for me there usually is) a little part of the mind that is not present. this part of the mind is busy making a to do list, or prepping an email, or thinking about that thing that guy said that really irritated you. really this is pretty amazing, we have an incredible capability to focus on more than one thing at a time. but we get in to trouble because usually, the mind slips in to patterns of stress and “monkey mind” wanderings.  often thinking negative thoughts, this could go wrong or i can’t believe i did THAT. . .. when searching for steadiness and joy in life, having jagged thoughts surely will not aide.

i know for myself TV shows are the alluring cure all.  i can zone out, without that pesky portion of my mind reminding me of what i have to do. this, unfortunately, does not lead very far on the path to enlightenment.
if instead of numbing out that little part of our mind that is always thinking about something else, we focus that towards the divine, presto! everything will shift in our lives.

in this verse of the Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna: keep your mind on me alone.

so we are to focus solely on Krishna, the flute playing, loveable blue guy, who represents the Supreme Being, the divine, the interconnectedness of being, love, joy, bliss, as YOU define it to be.

if we commit that busy little part of our brain, that is always thinking anyways, to focus solely on the highest elevated thoughts, rather than all the other neurotic stuff we tend to think about (i do at least, i don’t know about you guys) then it puts the mind in a very sweet place. and it actually shifts, everything. it shifts the outcome and possibilities in every situation.  it shifts weaving through a crowd of people, it shifts having a conversation with another, it shifts the food that we are preparing.  just to have that little bit of the mind (which is going to be busy one way or another) centered in a sweet and uplifted place makes everything in our lives just a bit more sweet and uplifted.

this makes me think of the sanskrit term chitta prasadanam.

chitta is your mind, mindstuff.  and prasadam, means sweetness or serenity or peace, like serenity of the mind, serene intellect. but there is the other meaning of prasad, an offering. like something that you might put on an altar. a little bit of food, or a flower or a bit of water, something you would offer to the divine. so in some ways, chitta prasadam is to make your mind a sweet offering to the divine.

in Jivamukti meditation, we also have a three step process.

  1. find your seat
  2. be still
  3. focus

by keeping your mind on elevated thoughts, we can bring the meditation practice in to our daily lives. we can let go of steps 1 and 2, and bring meditation (as Seane Corn coined it) off the mat and in to the world. this reminds me of a joke Biff Mithoefer told me the other day.

there were two bhuddist monks and they both smoked ciggerattes. the first asked their master “can we smoke while we meditate” to which the master replied “no.” but the next day the second monk said they were allowed to meditate while smoking.  the first monk was baffled, “why did our master say no to me and yes to you.” the second monk said “i don’t know, i just asked if we could meditate while we are smoking”

just the slightest shifts in perception can lead to the biggest steps of growth!

as the days get colder, lets see if we can keep that little part of our mind that is going to be so tempted to wander about and think about how we would rather be holed up at home hibernating, what you have to do later today and think about what you did last night, and lets instead focus that little part of the mind towards Krishna. towards making even our thoughts a sweet offering, chitta prasadam. let me know what changes in  your life after making this change!
keep your mind on me alone, your intellect on me, thus you shall dwell on me from on, there is no doubt of this.

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