Overcoming the Great Battle in the Mind

A meditation teacher discusses how we can use yoga and meditation to free ourselves and access our true nature.

This is part of a Wanderlust series from Wanderlusters in Australia and New Zealand. Check back for more Dispatches From Down Under. Be sure to check out a Wanderlust event Down Under as well!

It has long been understood by the greatest wisdom traditions through the ages, that our deepest nature is innately loving, kind, creative, and compassionate. It’s the true self that we identify with most and wish was more present, more of the time. It’s the aspect of ourselves we love; the optimistic, kind, caring, patient, enthusiastic, generous, sensitive, and wise personality. However, for most, there is a great battle taking place within our minds and hearts a lot of the time. It’s a battle to stay present and aware of our true nature amidst the barrage of negativity being hurled into our mind by the illusive, over-opinionated, mistrusting cynic in us.

The Mental Battle

The unspoken reality is that for most, the mind is like a battlefield. We are caught in a perpetual tug-of-war fueled by fear, self-doubt, jealousy, prejudice, worry, regret, shame, guilt, disappointment, negative comparisons, second-guessing, and self-loathing.

This ensuing battle weighs heavy on our self-confidence and drains us of our life force, leaving us to often succumb to our inner cynic in the name of staying safe and surviving. Some days are a lot easier than others, but in the moments when the negative rant dominates, life can be a real struggle. We become overwhelmed with feelings; anxiety, frustration, hopelessness, disconnection, despondency, and at worst, despair. When we feel overwhelmed, our instinct is to retreat and/or blame something outside ourselves.

In our withdrawal we seek ways to comfort ourselves from this experience. Some turn to drugs, alcohol, and sex, while others eat lots food (or not enough), gamble, shop… The list of comforting devices goes on and on.

As a professional meditation teacher, I’m privy to the inner realities of people from all walks of life, such as CEOs of Fortune 500s, billionaires, professional athletes, doctors, teachers, psychologists, mums and dads. What I can tell you is that this battle is happening to everyone in varying degrees, and it’s having a profound impact on our capacity to grow and be the best versions of ourselves.

Why We Feel This Way

So why are we so fragmented and disconnected from our innate nature of loving, kind, and creative compassion? Why is it we struggle to remain present? Why is it that we are dominated by regret of the past and worry of the future? What are we so afraid of that stops us from being free and innocent in the present moment, being fully expressive of our deepest nature?

In a nutshell, it is something we have learned from a very young age. We have been indoctrinated into a paradigm of worry and control. We have been trained to ignore our instincts (intelligent impulses from our true nature) and we have been instructed to live from an intellectual foundation—using rational thinking based on information from the past to preempt likely outcomes in the future.

When the foundation of our decision-making is based on worry and control, then this becomes the basic mode we operate in. It breeds mistrust of ourselves, the spontaneous expression of our true nature, and ultimately our ability to be authentic. Mistrust of ourselves, our instincts, and the intelligent flow of life is where all the problems start.

The outcome is an internal battle that can be nothing short of crippling.

This is a battle humanity has faced for as long as we know. The ancient wisdom traditions hold the challenge of overcoming this battle as the greatest, most important, and urgent. There is an ancient saying: “As is the mind, so is the world.” If the world is filled with people battling themselves, then the people of the world will be in battle with each other. When people stop battling themselves, then people stop battling each other and our true nature prevails and sculpts our society.

The Tools to Access Our True Nature

The great news is that these wonderful ancient traditions dedicated themselves to discovering the ways and means by which we can overcome the battle of the mind and become at one with our deepest nature of love, kindness, creativity, and compassion.

One such system we know as yoga: The science of unifying polarities to experience the unity of our true self, the whole self. Yoga isn’t just physical postures; it’s an eight-fold system that has meditation at the heart of the practice.

The reason why it is at the heart of yoga is because meditation serves as the gateway to the direct experience of our true nature. It is the direct experience of ourselves that is the very remedy to the battle in our minds. The way it works is so simple and elegant, as nature would have it. When we expose our mind to our deepest nature it immediately becomes impressed upon. We experience clear, coherent, orderly thoughts, and awareness. Over time with regular practice, this impression remains.

Also, when the mind accesses this deeper, quieter state of awareness, the body naturally becomes quieter and rests deeply. In this restful state, we begin recovering from the impressions of the past (indoctrinations) and begin identifying with what we are, as opposed to who we think we are. The scientific term for this deeply restful state is the relaxation response.

It has been the report of millions throughout the ages that there is an experience to be had and sustained that is available to everyone who dares to seek it. It is an experience of liberation from the battles of the mind and the fear, self-doubt, jealousy, prejudice, worry, regret, shame, guilt, disappointment, negative comparisons, second guessing, and self-loathing. It requires that we take time every day to acknowledge that what we are is love, creativity, and compassion, and to practice activities that nurture and cause this nature to emerge. Yoga, asana, and meditation are great places to start.

Give it a go… What have you got to lose?

WLJonniPollard_GLT&ThredboJonni Pollard is the co-founder and executive director of 1 Giant Mind and is an internationally recognized meditation teacher who has dedicated his life to sharing the knowledge gained from some of the great living masters of our time. He specializes in teaching the art of realizing the mind’s potential, so to live the most innovative and fulfilling life possible. 1 Giant Mind is a non-profit dedicated to delivering ‘Learn to Meditate’ programs and resources to combat the negative impact of stress and increase health and wellbeing. They offer a 30-day meditation program through their free app.