Practice Quieting the Mind
Thoughts come and go; they are the language of the brain. Thoughts are the conversations we have with ourselves; they are so prevalent we often don’t even realize we’re doing it. Sometimes in fact, we do it so much our thoughts become overwhelming. Do you enjoy inner peace or are you a victim of your own turmoil? The ability to quiet the mind and seek inner peace brings many benefits that lead to success; self-control and discipline, better judgment and decision making, stronger mental powers (sorry, not the kind that can bend spoons, but a greater ability to concentrate and solve problems). The ability to quiet the mind and obtain inner peace has a calming effect on others around you, creates less worrying, and as a result reduces stress and anxiety. When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.
There are many techniques for quieting the mind; however the general principle is to start by concentrating or focusing your thoughts on a specific task or process, eventually allowing intrusive thoughts to pass through. Here are some ideas to get you started. Eventually you can use these techniques to relieve stress, fall asleep quickly, think clearly, and if done regularly, bring peace of mind.
Step One: Learn to breath. Tune in to the rhythm of your breathing. Notice its depth, pace and timing. Become aware of the rise and fall of your chest and stomach. Does your stomach pooch out when you breathe? Is it held tightly? Can you actually see your chest rise and fall?
- Exhale all the breath from your body.
- Relax your stomach and let it pooch out.
- Inhale slowly and deeply and repeat internally, “Innnnnnnn”, for the entire inhalation of your breath. As you exhale, repeat internally, “Ooouuut”, during the entire exhalation.
- Relax your shoulders, neck and head.
- Repeat several times noticing your breath as it goes in and out. There is no need to control your breathing; just notice it and become acutely aware of it.
- As thoughts arise, just let them pass by like floating clouds and gently bring your attention back to your breath.
If you find yourself in a difficult situation or interaction, simply stop and bring full awareness to your breathing. Practice the in-out breathing exercise from above for just 10 seconds.
Step Two: Be aware of your thoughts. As you focus on your breathing, be aware of your thoughts as they arise, try to notice and assess what kind of thoughts you are having. Are they negative, positive, craving, neutral or self-degrading? Don’t judge the thoughts, just watch them as if you are examining them under a microscope and let them pass on naturally.
Step Three: Accept life. Our mind, like computers is designed to be asked questions and solve problems. Take notice the mind’s habit to see that there is a problem or problems and that there is something that needs to be fixed, ferreted out, removed, worked on, understood, etc. While you are breathing allow this thought to enter: “There is no problem right now. There is nothing that needs fixing. All is well and I accept this moment as it is and I accept myself for who I am right now.” You may experience a tremendous amount of resistance with this concept but keep working with it.
Step Four: Eliminate distractions. Find a nice quiet place to sit comfortably and give yourself a moment to disconnect from your network. Get comfortable and just sit. Don’t try to meditate, or watch your breath, just sit with your eyes closed and give yourself permission to be still, do nothing, think about nothing and want nothing to change. Your thoughts come and go, just like the clouds come in and out of view. Nothing is permanent.
Starting today, review the list below and pick at least two of the tasks to integrate into your breathing and stillness practice in quieting the mind.
- While the bathroom time is for doing things like bathing, brushing your teeth and taking a bath. While doing these mundane practices, don’t allow your mind to wander. Keep focused on the task at hand by bringing your attention to the literal action and focus internally on, the water touching your skin, the motion of the tooth brush, the act of washing your face, etc.
- While walking to and from your car, become aware of the sounds that your footsteps are making. Tune in with complete attention to those sounds every time you walk to your car.
- Go for a mindful/mindless walk in nature, a park or just around the block. Focus in on the sounds around you. Listen to the wind in the trees and the birds that are singing. Notice the sounds of traffic, lawnmowers and dogs barking. Notice your breathing and put your attention on your footsteps and how your foot falls as you walk. If you see something of interest, stop, notice it without labeling, and really take it all in.
- Notice the thoughts in your mind are noise, and in a way, they are similar to the noises that we hear around us.
- Spend some time cultivating your stillness practice by finding some quiet moments alone. Turn off all devices and tune into your breath by using your breath awareness tools.
- At night, while lying in bed, practice steps one through four. Tighten and relax one muscle set at a time starting with your toes finishing with your eyes and face. Feel yourself “sink” into the mattress. If you need to, stare at a spot just out of sight, counting backwards from 100 and until your eyes get heavy and close. Repeat.
You are not your thoughts; you are something much bigger than that.
Enjoy your weekend and be thankful for everything you have.
For 5 minutes every day, turn off and tune in to your true self.
You are awesome. Be Extraordinary!