You are feeling trapped.
In your own mental chatter.
What is with me, you think.
Is it just me or someone else also feels the same?
No amount of soothing music or positive reading has helped you.
In fact, you have noticed the extraordinary presence of the mental chatter, even when you are trying to meditate.
Is there a way out of this?
Is it possible to quiet your mind and be totally relaxed for one single minute?
Let me teach you not one, but 7 proven techniques to quiet your mind.
Plus 3 highly popular ones that you should avoid.
#1 The Secret Stretch
If this is your first attempt at silencing the chatter of your mind, I would recommend stretching. Deep stretches for a beginner can give instant results.
Especially for people in a mostly sedentary lifestyle.
I experienced this first-hand when I took my first extensive Yoga Holiday (Yes, 10 days is called extensive while you are working full-time). An immense silence enveloped me, a result of 4 hours of Asanas, in other words ‘Static Stretches’.
The secret is though, that it has to be at the ligament level, hence Asanas are your best bet. Not just moving one to another, but being in one Asana from 40 seconds to 1 minute.
The stretching of the ligament decreases the breathing rate and therefore the slowed down mind too.
Just think of how your breath goes all up and down when you are angry… Similarly, when the breath is calm the mind follows too and hence the natural quiet of your mind.
#2 Let the thoughts come
This technique also is very useful for beginners, who find it very overwhelming to sort through the mental chatter. In fact, this was the first-ever I used as a kid, practicing Yoga, and at the end of the session, trying to meditate.
All you have to do is simply sit down and let the thoughts come.
At this point, you are flooded with thoughts in your mind, but they are so quick, you can hardly place what is coming and going. Well, become aggressive and don’t stop it, tell them to come as much as they want, let it all fill you up.
And you will see after a few moments, there will be momentary silence. It will surely not be permanent, (because that means Nirvana 😉), but you will start having the taste of a thoughtless mind.
#3 Chant along
A very popular and one of the most common techniques employed by spiritual leaders when it comes to beginners.
Repeat a mantra to quiet your mind, although it is rarely expressly connected. Chanting a mantra is one of the easiest ways to focus your attention, away from the environmental noise and also of your own mind.
I am not talking about complicated chanting here. A small mantra like ‘Om’ will do perfectly.
You can be sitting or bathing or going about your routine work, only instead of letting your mind run amok, you now choose to repeat a mantra, mentally. This shall automatically flush out un-necessary thoughts.
While chanting any Mantra, make sure the pronunciation is correct for the right effects. I recommend beginning with Om, as you cannot go wrong with it.
Breathing will take you everywhere
Yes, it is absolutely true. Breath is the bridge that connects all.
Once you are a little further in your practice, the awareness of thoughts become clearer. At this level, start to try and sit still. In a comfortable position, if possible, cross-legged with a straight spine like Sukhasana.
Whatever position you choose, start to focus on your breath.
- Simply Going and Coming out
- The touch of breath coming in; the touch of breath going out
- The temperature of the breath
Try to focus on every aspect of the breath you can, practice it for at least 10 minutes in the beginning – every day.
You will start to feel a new connection with the quiet of your mind.
#5 Mix it up – Breath + silent walk
This is again for people who are a little more comfortable in their being with themselves.
Choose your favorite or easily available place in nature – a park, a beach, a riverbank, and take a long but silent walk focusing on your breath.
It can sometimes be difficult to maintain your focus on the breath itself, so we start to engage the mind from multiple levels. Sight, speech, and attention.
You have scenery to focus on, some energy is going in not talking and also you are focusing on the breath coming in and going out.
Not much energy left for the mind to engage in thoughts. And with such continuous practice, you are sure to experience a quieter mind.
#6 Breath + Concentration Exercise
Let us look at another way of engaging the mind on multiple levels – focus on breathing while practicing a lesser-known Yogic technique ‘Trataka’.
Trataka is an ancient Yogic technique and we are using the simplest version here.
Draw a teeny tiny black dot in the middle of a piece of white paper. Now paste this paper at one arm length distance at your eye-level while sitting.
First, warm up your eyes by rubbing palms together and placing them on the eyes. Also do some warm-up eye exercises by slowly moving your eyes up and down, right and left, diagonally both sides and round – a couple of times.
Now you are ready to quiet your mind like a pro, while you focus on the breath as well as staring at this dot without blinking the eyes till the tears roll down. Once they roll, you close the eyes for a few seconds and repeat.
Contraindications for Trataka – Intra-Ocular detachment, Diabetic Retinopathy, Epilepsy.
Note: Do not practice after Noon.
#7 Become an Observer
As you become more composed to deal with your thoughts, this technique will work wonders for you.
Sit in a comfortable position, preferably in the morning after slow and deep Asana practice. Start observing your thoughts as they come – as a second person, without identifying with them.
Don’t judge why they are, don’t delve on any, just watch. If one thought is more prominent than others, identify it. You can even note it down if you tend to forget things later.Just by observing the thoughts with non-attachment, you will see you can quiet your mind. Click To Tweet
Practice for 10 minutes, then come back to any thoughts you wrote down and focus on that one. Try to find out the root cause of that thought for 5 minutes.
It may not come to you immediately, but keep practicing and you will eventually start to resolve your thoughts too.
Popular Practices to Avoid
Do Not Exercise
You may have experienced this yourself that it becomes very difficult to sit quiet and calm after an intense workout.
This workout can be of any kind, if it is too fast, done with a lot of aggression and a challenging mindset it will work the opposite of quieting your mind. That is because the nature of your workout, both physical and mental changes the quality of it.
Even in exercising how you do it is more important than what you do.
Do Not try to Meditate
Practicing meditation may be the biggest lie of the modern Yoga world. The word is used so lightly, it has lost all its meaning.Meditation is passive, nobody can ‘practice’ meditation. Meditation happens. Click To Tweet
The only thing you can do is to start focusing your attention on one object and if your attention is sharp enough, you may experience meditation.
Few of the techniques I have given above to quiet your mind, can lead to meditation. Practice them. Don’t worry about ‘Meditating’, because it is not something ‘you’ can.
Do Not control your thoughts
Most people struggle with this one.
The more they try to control the thoughts, the more they cloud the mind.
Thoughts excel the light of speed, says Swami Sivananda. ‘While light travels at the rate of 1,86,000 miles per second, thoughts virtually travel in no time.’ he says.
It is not possible for a beginner or even an intermediate practitioner to simply control an object so subtle; it will escape.
So instead of trying to control your thoughts, use one of the techniques given above and you will have better success in stopping the mind chatter.
A Quiet Mind is the Well of Creativity
As your mind becomes quieter, you will experience a new kind of peace you never knew existed.
You will experience a whole new surge of creative energy that will inspire you to live your life the way you want and the courage to design it too.
Decide on a time of the day, and start practicing one or more of the techniques given above –same time each day.
I shall be waiting to hear the results from you, a better you!