Excerpts from books, lectures, and videos by Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa).
While you may correctly understand that you are not the physical body, you may incorrectly conclude that you are the mind. The mind, however, is not the self any more than the body is. You are not your mind.
You, the self, are the viewer of the mind. You can watch the mind much like a person in a movie theater watches a movie. You, the self, are a little apart from the mind. You can really be quite aloof from the activities of the mind.
The silent witness technique is a meditation technique used by some yogis to achieve a state of calmness and tranquillity. The yogi sits in a quiet place and lets his mind simply roam wherever it may. He watches his mind as a completely disinterested viewer and tells himself, “I am the silent witness. I make no effort to think, but thoughts come automatically. I am watching thoughts flow through my mind, but I am apart from them. I am the silent witness of my mind’s activities.” Such a meditation practice can help you perfectly realize that you are not your mind.
The attempt to control the mind also illustrates that the mind is not the self. Sometimes you want your mind to concentrate on a particular topic—like what you are reading right now, for example. But the mind may keep wandering off, causing you to try to drag it back. Or sometimes your mind is filled with thoughts and feelings that you don’t want but just can’t get rid of, no matter how hard you try. So you are the person who is trying to control the mind; you are not the mind itself.
“We get ample proof of not being our thoughts when we try to control and to direct them … If the mind is rebellious and undisciplined it means that the “I” is not the mind.”
~Robert Assagioli, Psychosynthesis: A Manual of Principles and Techniques
(New York: Hobbs, Dorman & Company, 1965), p. 117
If the mind is undisciplined, who is trying to discipline it? If the mind is to be controlled, who is to control it? Who is trying to control the mind? It is the self (the atma).
Your mind is your possession, just as your gross physical body is your possession. Your mind is yours—it is not you.
The mind is a subtle material body. As with the gross physical body, the mind is like clothing that covers the self. The difference is that the gross physical body is like the outer garments and the mind is like the undergarments. So you, the atma, are neither the physical body nor the mind; you are actually encased in both the gross and subtle material bodies.