It has been said that about 55,000 thoughts pass through a person’s mind on an average per day. Most of them are repeats from previous days. New thoughts are born out of changing circumstances. This brings up an important question: Do we have the freedom to choose what we think? The answer is: Yes and no. Yes, because a soul has limited freedom. No, because our thoughts are mostly dictated by our natures and these natures evolve over a long period. So what is the conclusion? We can choose our thoughts if we really consciously apply ourselves and change our natures.
Let us take the case of our bodily requirements. Our material bodies have three basic needs – food, sleep and protection. When we feel hungry, we think about food. When we feel sleepy, we make arrangements for sleep. The same goes for protection. People, who are well provided for in these three areas, are likely to pay more attention to their bodily concerns, especially when the body begins to age and the state of one’s health becomes unpredictable. Visits to the doctor increase. More tests are to be done, their reports collected. One also knows that cure from one ailment is not the end of the matter.
Under such circumstances, some people become obsessed with their health concerns. Some take to drinking to get rid of their health worries. Others develop an addiction to sleeping pills. When our minds dwell on health problems, we disturb the workings of our immune system. It is also spiritually damaging. One should, therefore, ask oneself this question: Can one win in terms of the material body? The answer is no. The body has to die one day. But if we restrict our thoughts to the spiritual level, we cannot lose.
The Bhagvad Gita states in verse 2.40 that a little effort in this direction protects one from major fears. The choice is ours as to whether we allow our mind to play havoc or control it and direct it towards spiritual thoughts, while taking care of the body as best as possible and, in the process, find happiness and peace of mind.