It is said that the mind is like a monkey jumping from one branch to another. It is not only a monkey but it has drunk the potion of Ahankar or Arrogance and had been bitten by the scorpion of Agyaan or Ignorance.
The very first way to get this monkey to obey us is to observe it. Sit quietly at a place and just observe the mind how it jumps from one point to another. At one moment it is regretting the past and in the other it is anxious about the future. At one time it is in Timbuktu and in the other it is in Honolulu. Once you observe what it is doing and where it is going, it will quieten a bit.
The next step is to focus your attention on your breath. By controlling your breath you can control the Prana or the Life-force. The method is simple. Think of the sound “SO” while inhaling and “HUM” while exhaling. When you do it for a few minutes the breath will become smooth. You will have a one-point attention on your breath and your mind will become completely quiet.
What do thoughts depend on ? The brain has cranial fluid and like fish the thoughts swim in that. The quality of the thoughts depend upon the condition of the cranial fluid. If the water of the pond gets polluted it will rot the fish or if the fish is rotten it will pollute the water. Similarly if the quality of cranial fluid is bad the thoughts present there will be affected and if the thoughts are negative the Cranial fluid will get affected. The condition of cranial fluid depends on your thoughts, diet/nutrition, exercise, rest, environment and physiology.
Thoughts : Any thought has two components, fact and emotion. It is the emotion we attach with the thought that make it positive or negative. Suppose someone has abused you. The fact is that he or she has used abusive language. Now you can either choose to be angry or forgiving, that is the emotion. So choose your emotions wisely and you will have positive thoughts always.
Diet : What we eat or drink also affects our cranial fluid. An extreme example is a person who is drunk. He has no control over your mind. Similarly there are things that lower the quality of the cranial fluid like read-meat and poultry, excessive spices, too much of tea, coffee or soft drinks whereas fresh fruits and vegetables improve it.
Exercise : When we exercise the body secretes some beneficial chemicals and toxins are removed. These beneficial chemicals like serotonin and dopamine improve the chemistry of the cranial fluid and make us feel good. 20 minutes of exercise three times a week is good enough for us to achieve that.
Rest: Sufficient rest is required to recuperate and rejuvenate. Lack of rest, continuous late nights, inadequate sound sleep lowers the quality of the cranial fluids. Doing Yog-nidra or Shav-asan helps tremendously to people with sleeping difficulty.
Environment : More important than the physical environment like sunlight and clean air, the emotional environment we live in, the people we interact with on day to day basis affects us. Are these people happy, positive and encouraging or they are negative and disturbing. So be very choosey and careful of the people you are with because there emotional state has the power to affect yours.
Physiology : Our emotions determine our physiology and vice verse. If you are feeling low, force yourself to smile and you will begin to feel better.
But more than anything else the quality of the cranial fluid depends on our thoughts. By doing the exercise given above you will be the observer of your thoughts.