The mind is like a wild animal. In the beginning of your practice of Yoga and meditation, it is atrocious and impossible to handle. It will not yield even one inch to your requirements. In Sanskrit, the retraint of the internal organ, the mind, is called sama.
An old Chinese anecdote shows us how to approach and ultimately master the wild bull that is our mind,
“The mind is like a wild bull. We cannot go near it. From a distance the bull will hiss, snort, and try to gore us. Our intention is to sit on it and ride it, but at present we cannot go near it. From one mile it will look at us with ferocity.
What is the method? The first step is to put a fence around the place where the bull is. It may be one mile. Now we know that the bull cannot come out of that barrier. One step forward we have gone in the art of controlling this wild bull. Though not much has been achieved, something has been achieved; we are free now, and need not be afraid that it will come and jump on us. It cannot come because we have put a fence around it. This is the first step.
Then what is the next step? We bring green grass and throw it inside the fence. It will come near. It is not fond of us. It will gaze at us with ferocity even now, but it will come and try to eat the grass. It will go on looking at us, gazing at us, and then eat the grass. Every day we do this practice. Throw green grass, a delicious diet, some food that it will like. Every day it sees us and gets accustomed to our presence there. It sees us, and we see it. Then what to do?
The third stage is to hold the grass in our hand and thrust it inside, through the wire fencing, but not to throw it down. It will come near us and eat that grass with a lesser ferocity in its mind. Three steps we have taken: first it is very far, then nearby, and now almost touching. Now we can even pat it on its head. It will do nothing because it has been accustomed to our presence there with green grass. Then we go on patting its head every day until it ceases from making a frightening sound before us. We can hold its horn, but stand outside the fence. It will do nothing to us; it will be gazing, trying even to lick our hand. Then we slowly open a little passage in the fence and touch it without being outside the fence. The fear has gone. It does not fear us and we do not fear it any more. We can touch it and pat it on the back. Then we can hug it. It will become our friend. We can sit on it and ride on it. We have mastered it.”
When practising Yoga and meditation, proceed in the same way.
Sama is the determination on our part to be always calm and quiet under any kind of condition, even aggressive conditions. No matter how your mind acts out, stay there and be present with it. Befriend it, slowly but consistently. You will master it eventually.