In Vedanta, the mind is considered as a subtle matter. It borrows the consciousness from the soul. Just like Moon borrows the light from Sun. Moon does not have its own light. Similarly, the mind does not have its own consciousness and it is illumined by the soul. Traditionally scientist believed that mind is the product of the physical brain. Some branches of science also believed that the mind is the consciousness itself. However, Indian sages dedicated their life in the study of mind and what they found is of the utmost importance to human evolution.
If you observe your mind right now, then you will find that it is thinking about the inputs it received from your senses. Humans have five basic senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. They all feed to mind based on their respective nature. You might be thinking about the movie you saw yesterday night or you might be thinking about the food you are about to eat.
The other source for thought is the memory. Mind enjoys all the good and bad memories of our life. This one is responsible for most of the thoughts. Memories could be based on our past sensory experience or based on our past thoughts. These would create deep mental impressions also called Samskaras. Memories are recycled conscious thoughts. The cycle of thoughts (sensory input > thoughts on input > thoughts on the thoughts > memories > thoughts on the memories) continues for entire life. This creates the entire mental world of ours. This is explained in the Yoga sutras of Patanjali.
Over a period of time, repeated data in the mind results in the habits of thinking. They then move from conscious mind to our subconscious mind. Our thinking for which we had some awareness now transit into auto mode. Now we cannot stop our thoughts. Even if we shut down our senses, we cannot stop the mind from thinking.
It is important to understand how our mind works as we identify our self with our thought world. Most of our day to day behaviour is based on what is going inside. If we have the whirlpool of negative thoughts, then any small trigger can turn us into angry or a depressed person. On the contrary, if we have positive thoughts, we would make positive changes in our life.
Once we have realized the nature of the mind, we should try to make it our best friend. So how can we change the mind? There are two ways for it. The first one is to change the sensory inputs. We have to make sure that most of the sensory inputs are positive in nature. It is about going for a diet, but the mental ones. You can have foods that are beneficial to your health.
Now there cannot be the same prescription for all the minds to change sensory inputs. Also, it will not happen overnight. We need to analyze how our entire day is spent. Observe all the ways through which our senses are feeding the mind. We can mentally keep a check of allowing only positive ones. At first, this might sound like a big task but it will also become a habit in the long run. We will also have to have a regulated life which will result in regulated thinking. Disciplined actions of every day will ensure that we are only allowing that is good for us. You will also observe more clarity in your thoughts.
The second approach is to have positive and happy memories. We would have stored all kind of memories, good and bad. However, we intend to choose negative ones more frequently. Life is not always fair but it is not always unfair too. We all have experienced moments of happiness and peace. These memories are stored as well. We only have to choose the right card from the bundle. You have to consciously stop your mind from dwelling over the negative memories and replace it with the happy one. This will need the effort in the start but will convert into a habit. The current way of thinking is also a habit and we can change that consciously.
Controlling the mind is not a task of one day. It takes a lifetime. We have to keep the words of Swami Vivekananda in our focus “Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached”. We can change our thoughts and we can change our life.