Silencing Your Mind in Meditation
Silencing one's mind in meditation is often a desirable goal for many meditators, particularly in the hustle and bustle of our modern world. In one sense, in our modern society, technology and computers have made life easier, but at the same time also consume more of our time and energy. Silencing the mind is a skill, which can be learned by anyone willing to spend some time practicing meditation. The aim should not be to have no thoughts, but to have an element of control over one's thoughts and mental chatter. In this meditation lesson, I will cover some tips and techniques you may like to try to silence your mind.
Mastering one's mind is a worthwhile endeavor, because unless your head isn't firmly attached to your body, you carry it around with you your entire life. While you have little control over others, you are in control of the thoughts and actions you take in life. It all begins with your thoughts. Have 'quality', positive thoughts and your life will begin to change for the better.
So how does one control one's thoughts and silence the constant mental chatter? Firstly, realize that it is normal to have meandering thoughts, or a busy mind, from time to time. Sometimes this can be intrusive, such as when we are trying to sleep or are focusing our attention on something. Cutting back or eliminating stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can also help.
If you have a busy or overactive mind, I would recommend avoiding listening to a guided meditation at night, as it will likely stimulate your mind. If you want to meditate before bed, I would suggest just listening to some relaxing music. During the day, if you've had a busy or stressful day, you may like to put some relaxing music on or a guided meditation and just allow your mind and body to unwind.
One way of doing this is via the breath. By taking deep, slow breaths, it will help your body and mind to unwind. Try the following breathing technique:
Breathe in for the count of four, hold the breath for the count of four and then breathe out for the count of eight. Repeat this a few times until you feel your mind slowing down and relaxing.
Another way to control one's mind in meditation is by utilizing guided imagery or visualization. With your eyes closed and sitting comfortably, imagine a street 'stop sign' appear in your mind. Hold this image in your mind for as long as you need for your brain to get the message. Alternatively, you can visualize a street 'slow sign' appear in your mind, if you simply want your thoughts to slow down. With practice, this technique will work more quickly and be more effective the more you use it.
With the same theme, you can also imagine yourself at a set of traffic lights. In your imagination, see the traffic lights change from green, to amber, to red. As you will be aware, green is 'go', amber is 'slow' and red is 'stop'. If your mind is racing, visualize the lights changing to amber and then to red to slow down or stop your thoughts. You can visualize this as often as you like.
Another meditation technique you may like to try is that of extending gaps of silence in your mind. With your eyes closed and sitting comfortably, try to extend the silence in-between your thoughts. At first you may only be able to have a few seconds of silence before your mind wanders off, and this is natural. You may like to use a mantra or meditation command, such as 'silence now'. Each time your mind wanders, repeat in your mind 'silence now'. The thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to do this. The more creative you are, the more success you are likely to have.
Silencing your mind in meditation can be a fun process. The key to this is to relax and approach it as a bit of a game. You may even come up with, or be inspired with, your own meditation technique that works best for you. Like any skill, the more you practice it, the better you will become at silencing your mind. I wish you all the best with your meditation practice and the steps you take to silence your mind.
By Brad Austen © 2016.