A mind without relentless mental chatter is a relatively new experience for me. The silence and spaciousness I now enjoy is a welcome relief. I could never go back to the level of busyness and noise that was ‘normal’ for me.
So how did I do it? How did I overcome a mind that foresaw every possible worst-case scenario, regardless of the situation, and then plotted and schemed to control the outcome?
It wasn’t easy I can assure you. Meditation, the most widely recommended and accepted method for quietening the mind, only made the chaos between my ears worse. Much, much worse.
Ultimately, it all boiled down to doing what I describe as inner work. I found that the sense of melancholy and impending doom that had plagued me since early childhood began to lift once I began releasing my emotional baggage, learned to harness my mind in positive and productive ways, and took consistent and aligned actions with who I truly am.
I’ll share more about these practices in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here are seven simple but highly effective methods I use to quieten my mind:
Stream of consciousness journaling
Unlike diarising a day-by-day account of the events and experiences that make up your life, stream of consciousness journaling is a free-form outlet for venting your feelings and processing difficult experiences.
I recommend using it as a tool for liberating yourself from fears, doubts and negative self-talk. For me, stream of consciousness journaling is a therapeutic process I use throughout the day whenever something is bothering me, no matter how large or small. It helps to quieten my mind.
Breathing in and out via your heart centre is a simple and highly effective tool for quickly and easily bypassing the mind, with all its fears and negative self-talk, and connecting with your heart.
I’ve found that even just a few minutes of practicing this technique, particularly at peak times of stress, helps me remain in the present moment rather than getting caught up in the stories playing out in my mind.
I prefer this method to guided meditation, which tends to keep me in my head rather than in the process itself.
Periods of silence
Another effective way of calming your mind is to give it a break from noise. Instead of turning on the television when you walk through the door or the moment you wake up, leave it off. Rather than listening to the radio, music or making a call when in your car, try driving in silence. Or put on some noise-cancelling headphones and go for a long walk in silence.
Yoga is another excellent practice for calming your mind. The combination of holding postures and breathwork helps focus your energy and attention on the body, aiding to turn down the volume of mental chatter and distracting thoughts.
These days most of us are in the habit of rushing through life, even if we spend the majority of our day sitting in front of a computer screen.
For me, walking, even for a short time, is a very effective way to ‘slow down’ and clear my head. Getting out and about in the fresh air for a brisk walk or leisurely stroll helps me see things from a new perspective.
I’ve found that it gives me the space to actively mull things over in my mind or simply to quietly observe my surroundings. Either way, I’m usually rewarded with creative impulses, invaluable insights and/or solutions to my problems.
For those who struggle to meditate effectively, walking can be used as an active form of meditation. If your mind is running wild, try counting steps as you walk.
Listen to classical music
Studies have revealed that listening to classical music helps to decrease your heart rate and calm your nerves or anxiety. When you are in that more relaxed state your cognitive performance also improves. You think more clearly, can focus more readily on the task and retain more information.
Access Bars is a hands-on healing modality that leaves your mind feeling calmer, quiet and more spacious.
The process involves activating 32 specific points on the skull, which are akin to Traditional Chinese Medicine acupressure points, releasing the electromagnetic charge that causes you to function from a place of trauma and drama. A little like hitting the ‘delete file’ on your computer.
In other words, it releases all of the automatic thoughts, feelings and emotions that keep you stuck, causing you to repeat the same self-destructive patterns in your life over and over again.
If your mind is still very active even after trying the above listed methods don’t give up. Your mind will naturally become less busy when you learn to master your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions.
Mastering your thoughts doesn’t just involve quietening your mind. The next stage is learning to harness it in positive and productive ways. In my next post, I will prescribe various practices and modalities to help you unleash your imagination and bridge the gap between your current reality and the life of your dreams.