Updated January 30, 2014.
We’ve all been told to quiet the mind when we meditate, but we also experience some sort of “chatter” in our minds–our thoughts may wander from our worries about the day to our fantasies of tomorrow, to whether we remembered to turn off the stove or pay the cable bill. Distracting thoughts are extremely common and we must learn how to quiet the mind in order to meditate.
Top Tips on how to Quiet the Mind
Here are some tips on how to quiet the mind during meditation written by Deepak Chopra:
- Have no expectations. Sometimes the mind is too active to settle down. Sometimes it settles down immediately. Sometimes it goes quiet, but the person doesn’t notice. Anything can happen.
- Be easy with yourself. Meditation isn’t about getting it right or wrong. It’s about letting your mind find its true nature.
- Don’t stick with meditation techniques that aren’t leading to inner silence. Unless you transcend the everyday mind, you aren’t truly meditating. Find a technique that works more or less automatically. In India, there are many kinds of mantra meditation, for example. Or simply follow the in and out of your breathing, not paying attention to your thoughts at all. The mind wants to find its source in silence. Give it a chance by letting go.
- Make sure you are alone in a quiet place to meditate. Unplug the phone. Make sure no one is going to disturb you.
- Really be there. If your attention is somewhere else, thinking about your next appointment, errand or meal, of course you won’t find silence. To meditate, your intention must be clear and free of other obligations.
Deepak Chopra explains that “any attempt to quiet the mind using force won’t work.” Using the tips above and a bit of practice, you should find it easier to quiet the mind while you meditate.
You can find the full post by Deepak Chopra here on Oprah.com.
And here are some further suggestions, from Erin Pavlina on her blog, ErinPavlina.com:
Get it all out first
Make a list of all the things you need to do so you won’t forget them. Tune in to what you need to do that day and get it all down on paper. Take your time and do it right. Then trust that everything you need to remember is on that list. Set it aside and prepare for meditation.
Turn on some relaxation music
Meditation music is wonderful. There are so many CDs out there that you really can’t go wrong.
Create a sacred space for meditation
Some people find it helpful to have a special place they use solely for meditation. Some pillows on the floor, a yoga mat, a certain chair in the house. Selecting one single place where you always meditate will help you create an anchor so that when you sit there, your mind automatically goes into meditation mode.
Concentrate on your breathing
Breathing is an important component of meditation. Typically you want to breathe in through your nose for a certain count, like 4 or 6, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth for a few beats longer than that.
Another way to keep your mind on your meditation is to listen to a guided meditation program. In these programs someone else is telling you where you are, what you see, what you hear and feel, etc. As you listen and concentrate on what they’re saying, you won’t have time for distractions.
Acknowledge the thoughts and let them go
Even with a lot of practice you can still end up with the random thought passing through your mind while trying to meditate. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Let the thought come, acknowledge it, and then let it go.
What have you found has been the most helpful to quiet the mind? Do you have any tips to share?