How to Control the Senses?


There are six ways of controlling the Senses: (i) through Inquiry, (ii) by will-force, (iii) by retention of breath in Pranayama, (iv) by restraint, (v) by abstention and (vi) by Vairagya and Giving up. Perfect control can be made only through Inquiry.

Restraint

Restraint blunts the Senses. Perfect control of the senses is not possible through Restraint alone. If the senses are very sharp and acute, they carry away the minds of even good aspirants impetuously, just as the gale carries away the ship in stormy weather. They can be controlled perfectly through the help of the mind, through Inquiry.

When you walk along famous shopping street in a city, each Sense tries its level best to get hold of its objects of enjoyment and revelry. The Senses revolt vehemently if you do not procure them these objects. Tongue drags you to the coffee hotel. Skin says, “Let me go to the accessories shop and have a piece of fine clothing. Ear says, “Let me have a sound system or headset.” The mind is at the bottom of these Senses to instigate. A tumultuous internal fight goes on between the five organs of knowledge, each trying to have a lion’s share of enjoyment. Use Viveka, power of discrimination, always. Senses tempt and deceive you. Senses are the jugglers. Maya (Delusion) spreads her tricks through mind and Senses. Be on the alert. Practice Restraint through Vairagya and Giving up subtle desires. Happiness comes through calmness of Senses, through calmness of mind. Go to the sweets. bazaar with plenty of money in hand. Walk hither and thither for fifteen minutes. Look with a greedy eye at the various sweets. Do not purchase anything. Return home. Have a plain diet. By so doing, you will control the tongue which is at the root of all troubles. You will eventually control the mind also. You will develop will-power.

Give up all luxurious food and all articles of sensuous enjoyment. Practice rigid penance. Penance thins out the Senses and eventually leads to control of mind. If you give up tea, you have really controlled a small portion of the mind; control of tongue really means control of mind.

Abstraction

When the Senses give up the objects, they take up the form of the mind-stuff. They are drawn into the mind. This is termed abstraction. When the Senses are withdrawn from their respective objects, it is Sense-Abstraction. Mental abstraction takes place when the mind is disconnected with the Senses. Abstraction is a general, broad term which includes Restraint also. The effect of Restraint (restraint of Senses) is Abstraction.

If you can do consciously Abstract at will, consciously attaching and detaching the mind to and from the senses, you have gained really a great control over the mind. You can check at any time the outgoing tendencies or outgoing forces of the mind. Abstraction is the stepping-stone to inner spiritual life. He who has succeeded in Abstraction can concentrate his mind quite readily for a very long time. Concentration and Mediation come automatically if Abstraction is perfect. An aspirant has to struggle hard to have mastery over Abstraction. Perfect Vairagya is indispensable for success in Abstraction. You can succeed after strenuous and incessant struggle for some years. If Abstraction is perfect, all the organs are under perfect control.

During the period of Practice, do not mix much; do not talk much; do not walk much; do not eat much; do not sleep much. Observe carefully the five ‘do-nots’. Mixing will cause disturbances in the mind. Talking much will cause distraction of the mind. Walking much causes exhaustion and weakness. Eating much induces laziness and sleepiness.

Control of Thought – A Great Desideratum

If you have the reins of the horses under your control, you can have a safe journey. The Senses are the horses. If you have the senses under your efficient control, you can have a safe journey in the path of Moksha (Liberation). Senses cannot do anything without the help of the mind, their master and commander. Control of the Senses means control of the mind only. Control of thoughts leads to the control of mind and Senses also. It leads to the attainment of infinite bliss and eternal life. Control of thought is indispensable – a great desideratum for all.

Reference

Mind – Its Mysteries and Control by Sri Swami Sivananda

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6 thoughts on “How to Control the Senses?

  1. I love this article. In reading the opening, I thought there must be quite an overlap in all skills listed. This section is particularly helpful:

    “During the period of Practice, do not mix much; do not talk much; do not walk much; do not eat much; do not sleep much. Observe carefully the five ‘do-nots’. Mixing will cause disturbances in the mind. Talking much will cause distraction of the mind. Walking much causes exhaustion and weakness. Eating much induces laziness and sleepiness.”

    And this: “control of tongue really means control of mind”

  2. Dear Ganesh, as you know I’m on my summer vacation but yours is one of those blogs that I still regularly come by to check on. As always a wonderful blessing being here. Thank you so much. Sharon

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