Your mind can be your best friend. So, don’t try to conquer it. Befriend it. Have conversations with it. Reason with it. Debate with it! Laugh with it! Train it!
There’s a story I remember reading that’s pretty interesting. A sage was offering his prayers and was in a penance when a very pretty lady walked past. He got distracted, opened his eyes, saw her and kept thinking about her all day. The next morning he resolved that he would not get distracted by the beautiful woman. So, he closed his eyes tight. But when the lady walked past him, he was able to smell her jasmine flowers and so he got distracted again. He was now angry with himself and vowed to close his eyes and nose the next morning. Yet, when the lady went past him, he was able to ‘feel’ her presence because he heard the sound of her anklets pass him by. Angry and completely lost, the sage vowed now to close his ears as well. But despite his intentions being right and his making valiant efforts, he could still ‘feel’ her presence even when his eyes, nose and ears were closed. That’s when the sage concluded that it was ‘all in the mind’.
Indeed. It always was, is and will be so! But remember: you can and must never try to control the mind. The mind is like a tennis-ball spewing machine that players use to perfect their strokes. The mind spews thoughts endlessly, like the machine spews tennis balls. On an average a human mind spews 60,000 thoughts daily. These thoughts range from the bizarre to the fearful to the practical to the anxious to fantasy stuff, all at the same time. Which is, in most un-evolved and untrained human beings, the mind is never in the present. It is clinging on to a past memory or dwelling in a future worry! It thrives in these conditions. When you are being led by your mind, it is your master. You just keep following it – through worry, anxiety, insecurity, fear, anger, guilt, sorrow, grief….! While you may not be able to conquer your mind, you surely can train it to be powerless. The mind is powerless only in the present moment. Once you learn to simply be present in the here and now, you will be able to direct – not necessarily control – your mind. Then your ‘best friend’ acts in your interest always – and never mindlessly!