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Quieting the Mind

Updated on April 6, 2012
We consume images constantly.
We consume images constantly.

Calm the Mind from Plaguing Thoughts

We are taught that we need to constantly be doing something! Even when we are sitting down to eat dinner, so many of us, have the television on, receive phone calls, not to mention the now ubiquitous texting. It seems that there is always some type of input coming at us and the speed at which it approaches accelerates with each passing year. When will we say emphatically to ourselves, “It is ok to slow down!”

In an effort to quiet ourselves so that we can appreciate what life is all about, I suggest practicing meditation. An avid yoga practitioner for over ten years, I began meditating one year into my yoga practice to learn how to endure stress and remain sane. Don’t get me wrong, the yoga is certainly beneficial all on its own; however, when yoga is coupled with meditation, one is able to hold onto her joy no matter the situation.

When practicing meditation, an important aspect is one’s posture. Remain erect in your spine. Imagine that you are a marionette, and there is a string pulling you straight up from your sitting bones along the length of your spine and up through the top of your head. Another image that is helpful is to keep your chin parallel to the floor, no need to look up or down. Keeping your posture as straight as possible allows for incredibly deep breaths, healing, compassionate breaths that will expand the interstitial muscles between your ribs. The power that oxygen carries to our cells allows our bodies to replenish at the molecular level and it help us to rejuvenate our minds as well.

“Trembling and quivering is the mind,

difficult to guard and hard to restrain.

The person of wisdom sets it straight,

as a Fletcher does an arrow.” –The Dhammapada (Teachings of the Buddha)

After a few deep breaths, perhaps using alternate nasal breathing, bring your attention to quieting the mind. Begin by closing your eyes and with hands placed on your knees (face up or down whichever is more comfortable) simply visualize the sea. As the tide comes in you are on the in breath, as the tide goes out you are on the out breath (or the other way around—it really doesn’t matter). The visual technique works just like counting to five as it occupies your mind. The thoughts will come. When they do, separate yourself from the thought, say in your mind: “I see you and I am putting you on the train.” Place the thought onto the train (an imaginary one you have waiting) and watch the train leave the station. Return to the visual of the sea. Now, to be frank, the thoughts will plague you some days more than others. It does take a good three months or so to get really good at sending them away and keeping yourself separate from them. This is not thinking time; rather it is simply being /breathing time.

We are Not our Thoughts

Everything and everyone around you most likely will think you are wasting your time with meditation. This is because we have been brain washed by our culture to constantly be active. However, as several Buddhist thinkers are fond of saying, we are human “beings” not human “doings”. To be healthy is to stop and be silent, to develop the ability to listen to what is important, what is inside you.

“It is good to tame the mind,

alighting, as it does, wherever it desires—

Swift, resistant to restraint.

A tamed mind gives rise to ease.” –The Dhammapada (Teachings of the Buddha)

Remember two things: 1) Do not be attached to results and; 2) You are not your thoughts. Each individual has a unique experience in meditation, some see fireworks, others hear voices, and most of us have nothing happen at all. Try not to compare your experience too much with that of another and if you do have an out of body experience, try not to attach to it, since it may never happen again. Meditation is about teaching us to be in the moment, there is nothing permanent about it. So you can easily prove to yourself that you are not your mind since your thoughts arise and pass away rather quickly and you continue to exist. There is much more to our existence than we are able to realize, but there may be glimpses and certainly opportunities to learn how to be more present, more aware, and much calmer, that is for sure!

Namasté!

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    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Vinaya,

      Thanks for the re-read. I just finished a book called Kundalini Yoga and it includes a lot of useful and well written descriptions of meditations for different purposes. For example, there is one that helps to deal with change, one for depression, one for clearing mind chatter etc.... Perhaps you will find it useful as well.

      Yes, please do write on meditation. If more people started their own practice I do believe the world would be much more peaceful.

      I used to meditate on and off just like you, and then I traveled to Macchu Pichu and just feeling the sacred energy in that space transformed me! I knew that I could feel that way only in mediation once I got back home. And I do feel it! No trip necessary-just the inner one.

      Namaste!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Yogini,

      I have been meditating for more than 15 years, however, I have not been a regular. These days I'm trying to meditate regularly. I'm also planning to do a series of articles on meditation techniques. I came back to read your hubs on meditation.

      Cheers

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      So true, we are taught to just keep on keeping on, but there are times when it is much healthier to just be. Thanks for coming by. It's always great to hear from you.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is a good reminder that we need to give ourselves permission to slow down and not be busy all the time. Thank you!

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      You are so kind! We must enjoy the moment-for that's all we really have. You too--peace, love and joy. Namaste.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Oh yes dear, 'living in the moment' is easier said than done just as you rightly said. I shared, tweeted and pinned this hub. Namaste, Peace, love and joy. Rema

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Rema,

      Oh, you are so very kind. Thank you for the compliment. I am humbled. It is so true that all kinds of yoga teach us to live in the moment, yet it can be difficult to actually do, especially when one is off the mat as they say.

      Namaste, peace, love and joy!

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi yoginijoy,

      I am very glad to be here reading this beautiful hub of yours. I have attended the Art of Living course that finally helped me manage my arthritis. I am very happy doing Sudharshan Kriya that is a vital part of this course. Every yoga teaches us to 'live in the moment' that is really awesome.

      Thank you for a lovely read. Please write more of these articles so that people like me can learn more. Love and peace to you.

      Cheers, Rema.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi catmalone, I am so happy you found this hub informative. It can be so hard to live in the moment all the time, but by adopting a meditative practice one can certainly get a little closer to the elusive goal. Take care!

    • catmalone profile image

      catmalone 5 years ago

      Very awesome hub! I try to live in the moment because it helps quiet the mind, especially after along stressful day. This is a very useful and informative hub. Thanks!

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      You are most welcome! Our culture pushes us to do, do, do but give yourself permission to do nothing once in a while. My new idea is once a month I try to take a day to do a retreat at home. I don't watch any TV or use any technology. I read, meditate, do yoga and rest. It helps me to stay on track for the rest of the month.

      Keep trying. I have another hub that is for beginner's, that one might help you to stay with it. Thanks for your comments.

    • craiglyn profile image

      Lynda 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have tried to meditate and so far have not been successful at it; but then I probably give up too soon. I am going to try to put some of your techniques into practice. I agree, we have too much coming at us at all times of the day. We need to try to shut down and feel the silence once in a while. Thank you for this hub.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Vinaya, you are terribly sweet. Recently, I heard a line that goes like this: "Awareness is bigger than mind." I sat with that and it felt right. As if mind were a tiny wave within a much larger ocean of awareness. Thanks for coming back. And you're most welcome. I enjoyed learning about you! Peace, my friend.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      The Buddha said mind is the main problem, if you can quiet the mind other problems will dissipate.

      Your perception is so inspiring, I came back for a second read.

      PS: Thanks for reading and commenting on my interview with Maria

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Crystal, I agree that is an excellent technique. Just remember to be compassionate with yourself and if the mind starts to wander then just bring it back to your mantra. That's all. The benefits of meditation are certainly worth the effort. Take care! Thanks for commenting.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      I've found that I have difficulty quieting my mind, but focusing on my breath and thinking "Peace" on the in breath and "Fear" on the out breath, or whatever I want more of and whatever I want less of, helps me to focus. Good hub.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi CyberShelly! Most definitely just breathing and being is helpful for quieting one's mind. The mind can be like a relentless train as you say, but it is possible to slow it down and even stop it for a bit. Yoga and meditation are so good for us--healthy options that keep us feeling good both inside and out! Take care!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      yoginijoy, Something I have always thought about as I practice simple Yoga positions for flexibility. I have recently started the 'mmmmmmmmmm' which seems to slow that relentless train in my mind, and brings about relaxation. I like your idea about the sea, visualisation and breathing - I will do that and just be. Voted up and interesting.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      So true, so true! Spread the word and with one person at a time we will create such a world. Thanks 'recently awakened' for stopping by. You too, peace, love and joy!

    • Recently Awakened profile image

      Recently Awakened 5 years ago

      If everyone in the world meditated even a few minutes a day, the world would be a much better place. Peace and Light!

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Thank you Virtual Treasures!

      To answer your question, yes, I have experienced that a few times. It is difficult to describe but I will try.

      I get a bit lightheaded and my eyelids open and close quickly, I don't really see anything but rather feel safe and at home. Other times, I see flashes of light, and sense a warm temperature all around me. And the last kind I've experienced, is more like a sense of floating or dancing as a light, not as a human body.

      I don't grasp at these experiences however, because I never know when or if they will happen. The quietness and stillness of the mind and the development of compassion is the reason why I meditate. Thanks for your comments! Take care.

    • Virtual Treasures profile image

      Virtual Treasures 5 years ago from Michigan

      What a great hub! You are very wise. Now I have what is going to seem like a silly question. Have you ever had an out of body experience? What was it like?

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Laurinzo! I appreciate your comment just as much my fellow traveler on this journey of life. You are correct, not only are we not our thoughts, but we aren't are skin color either! We need to keep educating folks that the solutions are spiritual. Thanks for the follow and for the comment too.

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 5 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      Wow. I especially appreciate your comment after reading this hub. You are aware it seems, of who we truly are. The spirit is the real person ...wow. Great hub.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Christy! It is true, we are not our thoughts, nor are we our emotions. If you wait a minute, the thought/emotion will pass! Learning to quiet the mind is very useful--it may help you get inspired for writing too! Thanks for coming by. Take care.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I like the idea that "we are not our thoughts". Our minds can be very loud and it is nice to quiet them. Great messages here.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Vinaya, I too began studying Buddhism later in life, mainly due to my interest in yoga and meditation. Buddhism makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you for your comment! I appreciate it a great deal.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I was born in a Hindu family and named after one of the three Tipitakas, Vinaya. Later, my Buddhist name had immense influence in my life and I began studying Buddhism.

      I practice Vipasana meditation.

      Thanks for sharing your views, this is so inspiring.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Klarawieck, thanks so much for the compliment! I super appreciate it. I know what you mean about the train, thoughts always arise and they always will, so look for the quiet in between the thoughts and try to lengthen it. That's what I try to do! There are different kinds of yoga too; some are more focused on breathing or sitting postures. They can be even more helpful for developing a meditation practice. Take care!

    • profile image

      klarawieck 5 years ago

      we are human “beings” not human “doings”. I JUST LOVE THAT!!! What a beautiful thought!

      I have never been able to keep my mind still during yoga. Well, to be honest, I only tried yoga once, but I was so uncoordinated that I felt silly. When the class was going to the right I was going to the left. And then the train . . . well, my train seems to be going in a loop.

      Great article! Very well-written.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Thanks for stopping by Lamar. I appreciate it. Yes, we are pushed beyond what is healthy in our culture at times. Sometimes it is hard to just say, enough is enough!

    • Lamar Johns profile image

      Lamar Johns 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This is a very insightful Hub! Totally agree with you. A active life often times leads us in the wrong direction. One can learn a lot through deep meditation. I guess some people are afraid to actually slow down because they might believe that their progress will become stagnant as well.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Dear Mark, Thank you very much for your comment. Yes, being mindful and finding equanimity in our world is quite a challenge. We'll have to try and remind each other once in a while. Take care!

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Richawriter, you are so sweet! Thank you for your comment and joyful tone! I appreciate you stopping by especially with all the hubs you're writing. Good luck with your goal! I'm certain you'll reach it.

    • profile image

      markbennis 5 years ago

      Great Hub yoginijoy, with some very truthful points too, I agree that much of the human experience is bombarded by busying themselves which in essence distracts them from that moment of piece and tranquillity, much to learn and grow in those magical moments.

      Voted up!

    • Richawriter profile image

      Richard J ONeill 5 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

      Very interesting hub and a topic I love!

      I can see i'm going to enjoy being your follower, even though I have set myself a mammoth goal of writing a huge amount of articles, I'm sure I will still find the time to appreciate your reader-friendly style.

      "Human-doings!" haha I love it!

      We are in possession of the most complex machine ever-created, and nothing will ever come close to its power - The brain! Well, I say THE brain but from my basic knowledge of the human body we actually have 3 brain systems. Even the heart has a brain!!! Fascinating.

      Peace. :)

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      @factsknowing--thanks so much for reading my hub and commenting on it. I appreciate it.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Robert, what a great compliment! Thank you. The next hectic day I have I will try to remember what you wrote and focus on staying as light as a breath of fresh air.

    • factsknowing profile image

      factsknowing 5 years ago from Jos

      This is beautiful. Your sure understand the path to the mind.

    • Robert Pummer profile image

      Robert Pummer 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Your Hub is like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for taking the time to put together this informative post.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I don't normally meditate but your advice is sound and I may start trying it to calm my mind. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • yoginijoy profile image
      Author

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Thank you for the comment. I like to think that one of the reasons we are here (on the planet) is to remind each other to be mindful. Namaste!

    • profile image

      ExpatPhilosopher 5 years ago

      These are definitely things I know, but need to remind myself to put into practice! Namaste!