We sometimes act mindlessly, that is, we act without thinking, being impelled by our impulsive mind. The word mind has many meanings: in mindless, the mind refers to our capacity for intelligent thought. In the impulsive mind, the mind refers to our emotional faculty, the storehouse of our fears, desires and memories. Thus, paradoxically when we act mindlessly, we are often fully controlled by the mind – what is less is not the mind, but our control on the mind.
Mindless actions can be fearful and fateful – we may do in one moment things that we may regret for a whole lifetime. The opposite of being mindless is being mindful, which is central to self-awareness. Such awareness can begin with simply becoming aware of our physical reality which can help us return to from the fictional reality into which the mind often drags us. The next step is to become aware of our mind – what thoughts, desires and feelings are entering there and what positions are they occupying in our consciousness. When we thus learn to mind the mind, that is, we train ourselves to become alert to the motions within the mind, we can resist its unhealthy or unsavory impulses faster and better before they acquire an irresistible momentum.
The Bhagavad-gita (06.05) exhorts us to learn to mind our mind when informing that the mind can be both our friend and our enemy – the onus rests on us to discern and decide whether the mind from within us is elevating us or is degrading us.
The Gita’s spiritual knowledge increases our self-awareness by identifying the various characters in our inner world. And the Gita’s recommended process of yoga, especially bhakti-yoga, equips us with God’s grace, by which we can gain illumination internally and make constructive contributions externally.