Assume that we succeed, through various methods of meditation or concentration, to bring the mind into a status of relative quiet. At that moment we begin to notice that there is this other running commentary going on in the background, reacting to every sense impression, bodily sensation, nervous impulse, or simply regurgitating past things in some form. This is what Sri Aurobindo terms the ‘mechanical mind’ which keeps running like a machine even when our higher conscious intellect is calm.

The understanding of these different aspects of mental action make it easier to respond. The best method to bring this aspect under control is to carry out the increasing separation of the ‘witness’ from the ‘active nature’, and identify with the witness Purusha. At that point, whatever actually goes on at the level of the nature, including the action of this mechanical mind, becomes less important. As the attention leaves this outer functioning, its hold becomes lightened and eventually it can come to a halt if no attention is being provided to it.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It was rather that the active mind became more quiet so that the movements of the mechanical mind became more evident — that is what often happens. What has to be done in that case is to detach oneself from these movements and concentrate without further attention to them. They are then likely to sink into quietude or fall away.”

“To be able to detach oneself from the action of the mechanical mind is the first necessity; it is easier then for the quiet and peace of mind to remain undisturbed by this action even if it occurs.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of Mind, Mental Noise, pp. 30-32

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.