atha chittam samaadhaatum na shaknoshi mayi sthiram |
abhyaasayogena tato maamicchaaptum dhananjaya || 9 ||

 
If you are unable to steadfastly establish your mind in me, then seek to attain me through the yoga of repeated practice, O Dhananjaya.
 
atha : if
chittam : mind
samaadhaatum : establish
na : not
shaknoshi : able
mayi : in me
sthiram : steadfastly
abhyaasayogena : yoga of repeated practice
tataha : then
maam : me
icchaa : seek
aaptum : attain
dhananjaya : O Dhananjaya
 
A student of music does not become a maestro overnight. While watching a concert, we may admire how easily he can handle complex passages on the piano, but we know that the prowess is a result of years, maybe even decades, of repeated practice. In his book “Outliers”, author Malcolm Gladwell emphasizes the “10,000 hour rule”. The key to success in any field is a matter of practising a task for 10,000 hours. Here, Shri Krishna says that if we are unable to constantly fix our mind in Ishvara, we should set aside some time daily and practice doing so.
 
In the sixth chapter, Arjuna admits to Shri Krishna that it is very difficult for someone to keep their mind in Ishvara all the time, and asks for a solution to this problem. There as well, Shri Krishna recommends the technique of “abhyaasa” or repeated practice. In this technique, we first choose an object of worship such as the image of a deity, a spiritual text or a mantra. Then, following the instructions in the sixth chapter, we set aside a fixed time and place every day to meditate upon the object of worship. Whenever our thoughts stray away, we gently bring them back so that we are only thinking about the object of worship. This yoga is known as raaja yoga, ashtaanga yoga or dhyaana yoga.
 
Note that abhyaasa is not possible without its counterpart vairaagya or dispassion towards the material world. Without reducing our stock of material desires, it is virtually impossible to sit in meditation. Each vaasanaa, each unfulfilled desire has the potential to produce a series of thoughts in our mind. When we sit for meditation, these unfulfilled desires start competing with each other to produce thoughts that distract us from the object of worship. Therefore, Shri Krishna advises us to follow abhyaasa and vairaagya together.
 
Now, with the practice of dhyaana yoga, we only think of Ishvara for a brief period of time each day. How should we continue our spiritual practice throughout the rest of the day? Or, our stock of desires may not even let us sit in one place. Then how should we worship Ishvara? Shri Krishna addresses this next.

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