We all know the battle of the mind vs. the senses… is the tail wagging the dog or did we simply forget to hitch the mule to the cart? In a sense (pardon the pun), it's the popular theme of mind over matter – a very powerful concept akin to the word of God (logos) that created the world.

Now let's say you have any one of a number of nasty habits or New Years' resolutions (current or past) that you're keen on disciplining. They could range anywhere from trying to get in a regimented exercise routine, losing weight, stop smoking or eating meat, sexual abstinence or imbibing drugs/alcohol. Notice that time management, procrastination, spending more time with the kids, etc. are NOT on the list, because these are not bodily functions regulated by the chemistry of the senses.

OK, time to get started on this one. The carefully crafted plan is ready for action. The body is present, and the mind is in the driver's seat. The green flag is waving and all of your friends are cheering in the grandstand, some of them hoping to make a bit of money off you!

To assist in our handicapping, there is a red hot tip from Mahatma Gandhi that no one who is trying self-discipline should ever forget. It comes from Gandhi's autobiography, 'The story of my experiments with truth' (Chapter 107) when he was experimenting with fasting as a means to purify the mind:

"A mind consciously unclean cannot be cleansed by fasting. Modifications in diet have no effect on it. The concupiscence (strong sexual desire) of the mind cannot be rooted out except by intense self-examination, surrender to God and lastly, grace. But there is an intimate connection between the mind and the body, and carnal mind always lusts for delicacies and luxuries.

To obviate this tendency dietetic restrictions and fasting would appear to be necessary. The carnal mind, instead of controlling the senses, becomes their slave and therefore the body always needs clean non-stimulating foods and periodical fasting."

What Gandhi is saying here is thus:

The mind, without being aligned with the authorization of the Creator (Gandhi was essential non-religious, believing in spirituality rather than any particular organized religion), the mind is weak and will be overruled and overpowered by the senses of the body every time.

Changing habits without proper 'mind alignment' is akin to torture and nearly certainly doomed to failure. It takes a tremendous amount of self-generated energy (we foolishly call this 'will power') and anal retentiveness to carry out such a program over the body.

How much easier all of this would be if only we have the Creator's energy doing the work for us! The same message comes across in Christianity from the bible (Matt 11:28-30; NIV) when Jesus says 'For my yoke is easy and my burden is light' because you can 'cast all your care upon him; for he careth for you.' (1 Peter 5:7)

Effortless change of habits, successful self-restraint, and practical physical and mental discipline are truly possible for those spiritually aligned with the energy of the cosmos. If this sounds too good to be true, we need only think how difficult it is for a fish to swim upstream. To 'go with the flow' (if you can identify and connect with that flow) is the 'only way to go'.

To sum things up: Life lived in the spirit is indeed a breeze.

Author's Bio: 

Ted Ollikkala is the creator of SpiritualChicken.com, a guide for making the most of your stay on the planet, regardless of your confusion level (but we hope to clear this up) or particular set of spiritual beliefs - Banish your pet peeves, stop complaining, and get on with your life!

spiritual chicken (def): non-dogmatic seeker of enlightenment and/or any person who suffers in the world due to perceived or unpercieved spiritual ignorance (so, are YOU a spiritual chicken?)