Q: I find myself unable to decide among various courses of action—not all the time but often enough. Then, when I do make a decision, I don’t necessarily follow through. Even worse, I sometimes find myself doing the opposite of what I decided to do. I’m not sure what my problem is, but I’m hoping yoga has a solution.

A: Your problem is that you have an unsteady, clouded mind. You do things without knowing why you are doing them. The things you think you intend to do are not supported by a clear, firm decision. That is why you find yourself dropping them and sometimes even doing the opposite.

In your current state, your mind has no faith in its own perceptions or in its own decisions. It knows it is disturbed, dull, and incapacitated, and this recognition undermines its trust in itself. This lack of self-trust forces it to turn to sources outside itself—although it does this only half-heartedly. After all, if the mind cannot trust itself, how can it know whether it has chosen a reliable outside source? That is why, in the search for self-realization, we knock on one door after another—moving from one teacher to another, to one therapist or life coach to another, and consulting various self-help books.

When the mind becomes still, you see yourself as you are.

To pull yourself out of this miserable situation, you need to learn the art of making your mind steady, one-pointed, and clear. Yoga tells us that only when the mind becomes still does it begin to see itself, its capacities, and the reality inherent within it. When the mind becomes still, what happens? Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam—you see yourself as you are (Yoga Sutra 1:3).

When the mind becomes still, it withdraws all its illusory projections, and your perception is no longer distorted. You perceive yourself and the objects of the world not as you imagine them to be but as they are. And once the mind has become still, you begin to see that it is as pervasive as consciousness itself—in fact, you come to know that the mind is the product of consciousness. From a place of stillness, you can see that the mind is endowed with unlimited capacities. You trust your mind, you trust yourself, and you trust your decisions.

Yoga offers a wide array of practices and techniques for transforming an unsteady, clouded mind into a mind that is steady, one-pointed, and clear. Practiced with patience and persistence, any technique that helps you balance your body, breath, and mind and bring them into a state of harmony will help you become clearer, more organized, more decisive and more cheerful.

As your mind becomes clear and composed, you will be able to sit on the firm ground of that steady mind and observe the world. From that vantage point, you will see that everything has a purpose. Then you participate in the world and worldly activities skillfully and wisely. You see that worldly activities are the tools and means for fulfilling a higher purpose: the attainment of ultimate freedom. And you will also see that far from being unsteady and indecisive, your mind is the perfect tool for rediscovering life’s purpose as designed by divine providence.

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Inner Quest: Seeker’s Q&A