Lord Krishna explains in detail, all about Dhyāna, in this chapter. The word Dhyāna, loosely translates to be Meditation in English. While Meditation is a generic term used to denote thinking deeply about something, Dhyāna on the other hand is a well qualified process aimed at experiencing THE divine truth. The truth of our existence. The true source of bliss.
One who is in search of this experience of truth, is referred to as Yogi. The lord starts by explain who qualifies to be called a Yogi – One who has given up the desires over result of action, but still relentlessly engaged in action – he is a Yogi; not someone who is sitting idle. The lord states Sanyāsa and Yoga mean the same – so such a person is not bound by any desires of self gratification. 

Sanyāsa and Yoga are the same – how?

Here the term Yoga refers to ‘Budhi Yoga’ (budhi = intellect), which Lord explained in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 while elaborating on Karma Yoga. To refresh your memory, it is about incorporating Yajna-spirit in the actions we perform. Giving up the sense of entitlement of result, and associated pride, in the actions we perform. One has to excel in performing actions with this attitude, if one has to achieve any control over the mind at all.
Why so? How so?
Think about it – when you no longer care about the result, or what others perceive about your action (ego/pride) – your mind is automatically more stable, composed, well balanced! And this cannot be achieved, without performing actions. So learning to perform actions with Yajna spirit, is necessarily a first step for anyone that’s beginning this journey of exploring the truth. Only after you’re well versed with this ‘style of performing actions’, can you really sit alone, in contemplation of truth! 

Having thus established ground rule, the lord now elaborates on the traits of such a practicing yogi. Firstly, we should really understand what our mind is capable of. The lord articulates this in a beautiful stanza:
uddharet ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hyātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

Meaning, use your mind to elevate yourself – towards divinity, and NOT to degrade (to be lost in pursuit of desires).
One who understands this well, will use the mind as a friend to elevate himself, else the mind itself will act as an obstacle/foe in your journey.
This is not just an advice for your journey towards divinity, but also a very powerful advice to deal with anxiety and depression! Only you can help yourself – don’t ever let your mind wander in the negatives, pull it out of that black hole focusing your energies on the positivity. 

Qualities of Yogi

Has conquered his mind – is always calm, is never disturbed by any of dualities – heat or cold, happiness or distress, honour or dishonour. The examples given are particularly interesting – as it touches the three realms of our existence – physical realm denoting heat/cold, mental realm denoting happiness/distress, intellectual realm denoting honour/dishonour.
Firmly established in knowledge, has no more questions or doubts. For such a person, the lord states, there’s no difference between a stone or a piece of gold! What is this knowledge, that would make you forego gold for a stone? Is it really right knowledge? Answer to this is the question – what will you do with either of them. How long will you keep it, and where will you take it! Note – it is absolutely fine and normal, if you believe gold is a better option any time – continue doing your karma yoga with honesty. You may reach a point of time, where your answer to this same question changes. Because this view of valuation is not enforced, but realised one.
He views and acts with everyone around, with same love and affection. Lord here enumerates all possible kinds of people – kind hearted, friends, foes, relatives, neutral, pious, hateful, sinful. No matter who it is – a yogi is indifferent and acts impartially.
Does not eat too much, nor too less. Does not sleep too much, nor too less. Here eating is not limited to food, but to be taken as anything we consume through sense organs. Regulation in everything is the key message. Recall the saying about – ‘eat to live only, not live to eat only’.

Where to practice Dhyāna, and how?

Find a place that is clean, sit in a posture that is stable and comfortable for you. Let the place also be secluded, so you avoid unwarranted distractions.
Be seated on a firm mat (the specifics given by lord indicates using a deer skin on top of grass). Sit in a posture where your spine, neck and head are in a straight line.
Get your vision to focus at the tip of your nose, eventually closing your eyes. This activates your Ajna chakra (between your eye brows), and also ensures your vision is not distracted by happenings around you.
Completely calm down the mind, being fearless, focus only on me – Lord states. Engage your mind completely in contemplation of that eternal truth – the experience of that divine lord within you, this will certainly lead you to that eternal bliss.
The lord here gives the example of an unwavering flame when placed in a closed room – that’s how our mind should be. The flame although unflinching in its form, is constantly emitting light. Similarly, our mind actively emits thoughts, but make all thoughts unwaveringly dedicated towards the lord.

What do you experience, when you perform Dhyāna?

The mind, when is devoid of external distractions, is now able to ‘see’ or experience the divine lord within you. This can happen ONLY when the mind is no longer interested in external existence, thus completely unaware of external world. The focus then naturally shifts inwards.
The lord says, such a state is unparalleled bliss, and is beyond the comprehension of the mind! Whoever reaches that state, remains firm there, in complete awareness of that eternal truth. Having realised this eternal truth, the mind naturally stops craving for anything more. This act of mind, of cutting off dependency on external material world to seek happiness, is what is known as YOGA!

Here external material world is referred as a source of sorrow – as all perceived happiness is only short-lived. For example, assuming you bought a brand new beauty of a beast – Ferrari car. Your happiness knows no bound. Until one reckless driver driving past you makes a small scratch on the car! Or, until you see another latest of Ferrari that looks even more elegant and beautiful! The same source of happiness, suddenly turned into a tinge of sourness! Now that sourness lingers more than the earlier happiness!
This, in principle happens with everything we consume from external world! Hence, there’s no way to satisfy the mind permanently by relying only on external world. 

How to practice – what should be your mental attitude?

The lord is so detailed in his instructions in this chapter, that you’d be left amazed!
The lord says – all this will happen only step by step. You should have conviction and faith, in the divinity within you. Engage your mind and intellect, to retain focus constantly on the divine – not thinking of anything else.
The mind will wander away, that’s the way mind is until trained. So train the mind to watch when the mind strays away, pulling it back to rest the focus back on the divine! 

When he practices this with complete conviction, the LORD – the eternal knowledge, the eternal energy, the eternal bliss, is easily reachable. A true yogi, will thus see the divinity in all beings, and that divinity will certainly manifest in him. 

Now listen to Arjuna (your inner voice?)

Our friend Arjuna has questions, similar to the ones you may have right now:
Arjuna: You very beautifully explained all about yoga, but it knowing how flickering my mind is, I don’t see how to achieve it! The mind is extremely restless, strongly turbulent – to control is like trying to control the wind around!

Lord Krishna: Certainly conquering our own mind is difficult. Only consistent PRACTICE and DETACHMENT, can lead you to such a state. For one who doesn’t want to control the mind, he certainly cannot reach such a state. But for one who practices to regulate the mind, it is certainly reachable. 

Now Arjuna goes into risk assessment mode. He asks:

Arjuna: Let us say someone tries going down this path. But in the due course, they’re distracted by the worldly pleasures and gives up his pursuit of knowledge. What will happen to them – won’t they simply lose out?
Note – the undertone here is that, when you control something with lot of effort, if you happen to lose control it leads to excessive consumption of what we were trying to control. This is a natural way mind behaves! You’ll know if you have fasted ever – recall the first time you fasted. The next day you’d have been a glutton (and then went through the repercussions of being that glutton)!

Lord Krishna: These acts of self control, in pursuit of eternal knowledge – they never go waste. It helps in understanding the process of burning away your desires, and every progress you made will stay with you permanently. So it will eventually lead you to be better placed, in surrounding of right people, right ecosystem – in this life time, or the next, that will aide you in your evolution. Even if it is in the next birth, you would start engaging in such yogic practices early on, making progress from where you left earlier. 

So there’s nothing to lose! Get started, today, right now, in your journey! 

DISCLAIMER: This our sincere attempt to summarise the Gitōpadesha, via a series of short blogs. This is NOT the whole translation, or commentary of the divine book. We seek forgiveness of reader and the lord, for omissions which is inevitable to keep the blog short. The write-ups include both, writer’s personal opinion and summarised version of many shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita. Intent of blog was never to be a commentary of Bhagavad Gita, but simply inspire the reader to read Bhagavad Gita in it’s entirety. The writer is neither a scholar, nor a bummer, somewhere in between, with a firm belief that the lord gets him to do all the things he does. Being human, he still keeps erring. Forgive him for all such mistakes.

Sarvam Krishnarpanamasthu!