shanaihi shanairooparamedbuddhyaa dhritigrheetayaa |
aatmasamstham manah kritvaa na kinchidapi chintayet || 25 ||

With firm resolve and regularity, slowly but surely, withdraw (the mind) through the intellect. Having established the mind in the self, do not think even a little bit about anything else.
shanaih : slowly
shanaih : slowly
uparamet : withdraw
buddhyaa : through the intellect
dhritigrheetayaa : with firm resolve and regularity
aatmasamstham : established in the self
manah : mind
kritvaa : do
na : not
kinchit : even a little bit about
api : anything else
chintayet : think
In the prior shloka, Shri Krishna advised the meditator to detach the mind from sense objects, and to control desires by checking unwanted thoughts. In this shloka, Shri Krishna goes deeper into the topic of focusing attention on one thought. He says that the meditator should use his intellect to withdraw the mind from all material thoughts in order to focus the mind on the one thought : “I am the self”.
In the third chapter, we had encountered the hierarchy of our personality where we saw that the mind is higher than the senses, and the intellect is higher than the mind. What does it mean for the meditator? It means that even though the mind is hard to control, our intellect has the power to rein it in. In other words, the meditator should use the intellect to control the mind.
The mind likes to be busy. It hops from one thought to another at lightning fast speeds. Once we withdraw the mind from the senses, the mind gets restless because it cannot run after sense objects. In order to keep busy, it starts thinking about the past and the future. So therefore, Shri Krishna asks us to use our intellect to rein in the mind. This withdrawal is called “buddhi uparamet” in the shloka.
How does one do that? Let’s take dieting as an example. Imagine that our doctor has asked us to go on strict diet for 2 weeks. Our first step is to control the senses by not keeping any undesirable food in the house. When this happens, the mind will continuously think about food, and tempt the body to do undesirable things, e.g. go out of the house to get fatty food and so on. The mind becomes agitated and restless, which is a recipe for disaster.
At this point, we use our intellect that has received the doctor’s instructions to check the mind. We think : “I respect the doctor. Therefore, mind, stop contemplating undesirable food since it will have negative consequences for me”. When we think this thought, we can control the mind’s rush into food-related thoughts.
Similarly during meditation, we can withdraw the mind using the intellect. We need to have an intellect that has read and heard about the eternal essence. It understands that any thought other than “I am the self” does not have a place in meditation. Each time an unwanted thought comes, we should use the intellect to gently but firmly shift focus from that thought and put the mind back into the main thought of “I am the self”.
Shri Krishna says that this method could take weeks, months or years. Therefore, he asks us to do it “shanaih shanaih” or slowly slowly, with great fortitude and patience. We should constantly meditate over the thought : “ I am the self”. Other than this thought, there should be no other thought. Each time the mind strays, we should not think that we have failed and get dejected. We should again bring the mind back slowly to the one main thought.
When done correctly, we generate a lot of energy will radiate from our personality. This “tapas” or energy was always within us, but used to leak out through our mind and sense organs.
Now, the mind has another issue. It moves from thought to thought with great speed. This is taken up in the next shloka.
1. Meditation on the thought that “I am the self” is called “sajaatiya vritti”
2. Any thought other than “I am the self” is called “vijaatiya vritti” or thought about an object 3. These undesirable thoughts create the notion that “I am not the self, I am the experiencer”
4. We have to negate these undesirable thoughts during meditation