Before we can get the mind to do good work for us, we must first “tame” it, and bring it to obedience to the Will of the “I.” The mind, as a rule, has been allowed to run wild, and follow its own sweet will and desires, without regard to anything else. Like a spoiled child or badly trained domestic animal, it gets into much trouble, and is of very little pleasure, comfort or use. The minds of many of us are like menageries of wild animals, each pursuing the bent of its own nature, and going its own way. We have the whole menagerie within us—the tiger, the ape, the peacock, the ass, the goose, the sheep the hyena, and all the rest. And we have been letting these animals rule us. Even our Intellect is erratic, unstable, and like the quicksilver to which the ancient occultists compared it, shifting and uncertain. If you will look around you you will see that those men and women in the world who have really accomplished anything worth while have trained their minds to obedience. They have asserted the Will over their own minds, and learned Mastery and Power in that way. The average mind chafes at the restraint of the Will, and is like a frisky monkey that will not be “taught tricks.” But taught it must be, if it wants to do good work. And teach it you must if you expect to get any use from it—if you expect to use it, instead of having it use you.
And this is the first thing to be learned in Raja Yoga—this control of the mind. Those who had hoped for some royal road to mastery, may be disappointed, but there is only one way and that is to master and control the mind by the Will. Otherwise it will run away when you most need it. And so we shall give you some exercise designed to aid you in this direction.
The first exercise in Raja Yoga Is what is called Pratyahara or the art of making the mind introspective or turned inward upon itself. It is the first step toward mental control. It aims to turn the mind from going outward, and gradually turning it inward upon itself or inner nature. The object is to gain control of it by the Will. The following exercises will aid in that direction:
(a) Place yourself in a comfortable position, and so far as possible free from outside disturbing influences. Make no violent effort to control the mind, but rather allow it to run along for a while and exhaust its efforts. It will take advantage of the opportunity, and will jump around like an unchained monkey at first, until it gradually slows down and looks to you for orders. It may take some time to tame down at first trial, but each time you try it will come around to you in shorter time. The Yogis spend much time in acquiring this mental peace and calm, and consider themselves well paid for it.