CONVERSATIONS WITH ANNAMALAI SWAMI
Question: Bhagavan often told devotees to "Be still". Did he mean "Be mentally still"?
Annamalai Swami: Bhagavan's famous instruction "summa iru" [be still] is often misunderstood. It does not mean that you should be physically still; it means that you should always abide in the Self.
If there is too much physical stillness, tamoguna [a state of mental torpor] arises and predominates. In that state you will feel very sleepy and mentally dull. Rajoguna [a state of excessive mental activity], on the other hand, produces emotions and a mind which is restless.
In sattva guna [a state of mental quietness and clarity] there is stillness and harmony. If mental activity is necessary while one is in sattva guna it takes place. But for the rest of the time there is stillness. When tamoguna and rajoguna predominate, the Self cannot be felt.
If sattva guna predominates one experiences peace, bliss, clarity and an absence of wandering thoughts.
That is the stillness that Bhagavan was prescribing.