Verse 3.41: Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bhāratas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.
Find yourself doing the same old things again and again and not really feeling any happier? I was reflecting on this yesterday night as I caught myself falling into the trap of doing the same old things that honestly don't help increase my happiness levels. After all, let's be perfectly honest - most of us want to be happy and there's nothing wrong with that!
It may seem contradictory, but the advice we hear today of regulating the senses can lead to new experiences, fun AND has the benefit of progressing in our path of self-discovery. It's not as limiting as one might think.
For some of us, it means taking a good hard look at our lives and asking, "What makes me happy?" In fact, it's an exercise I'd encourage everyone to do. Take a piece of paper and write down what you do in your free time. Now, write down on a scale of 1-10 how happy those activities make you. It could be anything from eating, hanging out with friends, sleeping etc... Got that down...well now comes the tough question:
How long does that happiness last?
That's the question we should really be asking. It's become enough to just feel happy, no matter how temporary it may be. But yoga isn't about getting second rate things, it's about getting the best. The best is finding those things that will sustain our happiness.
Regulating the senses means to stop settling for second best.
Practically speaking, it means recognizing that happiness comes from service as opposed to selfishness. It ties back into the concept of non-attachment and gratitude. After all -
A life of happiness is directly proportional to the gratitude that we feel and express.
When we are covered over by lust, we feel the need to possess and control things because we are feeling empty. Gratitude, on the other hand, paves the way to invoking the love that is lying within us and fills us with it. It reminds us that we are recipients of great gifts, talents, and facility.
Regulating the senses means to utilize our senses in expressing gratitude to the Divine for giving us so much. Instead of trying to satisfy our own senses, which are limited and are always hankering for more, we can utilize our senses to convey how grateful we are. It's a matter of changing our attitude.
In the beginning, it can simple as expressing positive words to one another since we recognize that we are all part of a spiritual family, incorporating a compassionate vegetarian lifestyle or praying on behalf of loved ones. As our thoughts become filled with positivity and appreciation, a positive feedback loop starts to form. We experience a profound internal happiness that can't compete with the temporary pleasures we experienced before. That gratitude becomes a permanent fixture in our lives and we'll see more than our mind-sets and attitudes change - we'll actually become (and remain) happy.