Do you remember the last time that you needed to use the bathroom? To be specific, think of the last time that you needed to urinate.
Assuming that you had control of your bladder’s function, and had the skill of interception (being able to sense what is going on inside of your body via the various nerves that run through your peripheral nervous system) you would have, most likely, felt the pressure/urge to release the accumulation of blood plasma that had been converted to urine after being automatically filtered through your kidneys.
This urine would have drained down into your ureters involuntarily, to drip feed into your bladder until they filled that organ to the point where your internal urethral sphincter would then release the urine at the gate of your external urethral sphincter after holding in your pee for a while.
Now, here comes the fun part that you probably remember the most vividly! After all of that involuntary processing of fluids, your nerves would have then sent chemical and electrical signals to the appropriate cells in that area of your body, and to your brain, communicating that it was time to release the waste that you had accumulated. And then, you would have voluntary choices to make at that point.
If you were smart, you most likely got yourself into gear, signaled to your legs that they needed to transport you to a safe and socially acceptable place called a bathroom (or something sufficient), and when you got into the right position over the appropriate contraption in said bathroom (or something sufficient), you would have, by grateful choice, relaxed your external urethral sphincter and let all of the accumulated urine flow out into a chosen place.
In that situation, you exercised expert control over your bladder, my friend.
Autonomic And Somatic Regulation
Since you are already busy navigating through this crazy (and sometimes interesting) world, with so much to see and to do, taste, smell, touch, and hear, your body (like a stellar domestic partner) automatically does most of the work to keep you alive and kicking (in case of emergency and/or in case of a call to play ball) without you even thinking about it.
Your autonomic bodily functions include everything from making your heart beat to making you breathe, and this frees up energy that you can then use to do things like search, or work, for food, engage in meaningless social interactions, and so forth.
This self-driving unit is more expertly constructed than anything out there on the market.
And, like a self-driving car, when you need to take the wheel (because Jesus is on vacation), you can then engage your somatic nervous system to get things done (like slowing down your breath to calm your mind)…even affecting some of your other autonomic functions via the magical highway of your vagus nerves as well.
From getting your body “pumped up” to getting your body to “wind down,” you, with enough awareness and skill, can regulate your body systems.
And this regulation extends from your body to your mind as well (since they are connected). You can create excitement or relaxation, you can focus/concentrate, you can pay attention/observe mindfully, and you can even (with enough awareness and skill) put your mind aside and be Liberated.
Like walking a well-trained dog, or being a master to a well-paid servant, you have the ability to influence and direct the behavior of your body and your mind.
Control Your Animal!
The unruly mind is often referred to as the monkey-mind in Yoga.
Like an out-of-control child throwing a tantrum, running after everything that it desires in the supermarket, screaming at the top of its lungs for candy in the check-out line, and then sticking out its tongue or giving you the middle finger and declaring that “you’re not the boss of me,” a mind that is disregulated…needs. working. on!
That child that you have running your life and causing you embarrassment and misery, like your monkey-mind (or my downstairs neighbor’s dog), needs better “home training” as they say in Jamaican patois.
Dysregulated animal behavior needs the right discipline and training to steer it in a healthy and balanced direction, or, the being who exhibits this type of uncontrolled behavior is bound to create destruction and misery, inevitably causing itself and others a great deal of pain and/or suffering, in the world.
I Love You But…I Ain’t Gonna Be Yo’ Fool
In the Bhagavad Gita, and several other Yogic texts, like the Upanishads (so from the ancient text known as the Vedas), getting your mind under control is often illustrated by a chariot metaphor.
At the front of the chariot, you have 5 horses, representing your five senses that gather information from the external world. These five senses can lead to attachment, aversion, as well a number of different dysregulation issues if not properly trained and controlled. And when you control your reactions to these things, you have full control of your thoughts, words, and actions (Karmas).
Driving the five horses is your Buddhi, or intellect, the higher functioning part of your mind–similar, and connected, to a highly functioning brain that leads to a well regulated nervous system that allows you to choose when and where you want to pee, for example.
And, at the “top,” in the leadership position, of the chariot, commanding your Buddhi (and your booty) is your soul, or the Self (depending on how you want to use the metaphor), which represents the true animating force that makes all other functions, actions, and outcomes possible.
You only need to come into your full “power” (of Self-awareness and self-control/mastery) to understand that you can effectively regulate your biological and energetic systems/instruments for navigating through the world. This will empower you to gain mastery/control of your life, and, like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, lead you to victory over the pulls and idiocies around you.
Control your animal…that animal that is your body and lower parts of your brain…Using your refined and purified higher executive functions in a way that is respectful, loving, kind, but stern, you can get control of the most powerful tool that you possess for navigating in this world: yourself, by fully coming into your Self.
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