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How to Quiet Your Mind

Photo by Andrea D’Aquino (Germany)

Do you regularly feel at ease and at peace? Are you continuously overflowing with Joy and Bliss on a daily basis, such that you seem free of problems and emotional pain? If so, go directly to the comment section and share with us your secrets.

If you’re still reading, you are amongst the vast majority of us striving for a better life, yearning for a more peaceful and joyful existence. Yet, it seems like an impossible challenge, where we end up mentally punishing ourselves for failing, concluding that “I’m just not made to live in peace.”

You see, it’s not us, it’s just that we’ve become so easily distracted by the hurrying demands of modern life, that we’ve temporarily lost touch with our natural state of being. But there is a way, if we seek it.

The purpose of this article is to share a simple technique to bring more peace, joy and clarity into your life. Would you like that?

Why It’s Hard to Find Peace and Joy?

If you observe our problems, you will notice that most problems are rooted in the mind. The basic premise is the same: some external event happens, we choose to see only one side of the story, and then interpret the situation such that it causes some form of mental conflict, resulting in some form of emotional suffering.

While it is easy to simply say, “drop your problems”, you and I both know that it is not that simple. We all have had years and years of conditioning in attracting problems and conflicts. So much so, that the simple concept of ‘stop thinking about problems’ will not be so effective on us. We need tools that strike at the problem’s root.

Let’s now try something. Close your eyes for about a minute (or 5 minutes), and during this minute, send out the intention that you want silence and stillness, and you do not want to be pulled away from this silence by thoughts. (Pause your reading and go do this.)

Okay, so what happened? You probably noticed that the moment you become silent, thoughts started popping up – random and unrelated thoughts. These thoughts become a form of distraction, pulling us away from our inner silence.

This was only an experiment where we consciously observed our mind and tried to become still, but could not. Imagine the state of our inner space, while we are going about our day, unaware of the polluting in-coming thoughts.

As a result, our inner space becomes cluttered with useless information, with thoughts that are not conducive to our wellbeing, with garbage. Because our inner space is cluttered, our inner clarity and in-born wisdom becomes distant and foggy. And essentially, we loose touch with that part of our inner selves that is sacred, and wise, and peaceful, and eternal.

The distractions that we’ve declared as urgent and important, such as watching TV, updating our facebook and myspace and twitter pages, checking email, gossiping on the phone, loading mp3s on our music players, etc. all pull at us. They all pull at our attention, distracting us away from the things that are truly important to us – things that will bring lasting happiness and fulfillment to our lives and the lives of others we have yet to come to know.

Whether we recognize it or not, the information that we expose ourselves to, fills our inner space on some level, and affects our emotions and desires.

And if we are not careful, we can easily rush through life, while spending our precious time on this planet focused on that which does not matter – and then wonder where did my life go? Why do I feel unsettled and easily irritated? Why do I feel unfulfilled and incomplete? And then we die wondering.

If you are here, breathing and reading this right now, then you have been blessed with this day, to wake up! Wake up and take control of your destiny, starting with what you focus on and allow into your life (regardless of your age).

Simple Guide to a Deep Inner Cleanse

One way to clean out the clutter in our inner space is by guarding the garden of our mind. Being conscious of what we allow inside, starting with our own words, thoughts and attention.

We may not be aware of this, but we spend so much energy on gossiping, bad mouthing other people, judging other people, finding faults in others, and consumed in negative thoughts like jealousy, guilt or fear, and making excuses to cover up how we actually feel. I know all this sounds really bad and exaggerated when it’s all laid out like this. But if we truly observe ourselves, our thoughts and our words, we will notice that at some point of everyday, however subtly or unconsciously, we are doing several of these things.

I’m not pointing fingers, I can only speak from my own experience and confirm that this is true. Sometimes, the “violation” is subtle, like passing a negative judgment on a waiter at a restaurant, or becoming frustrated with a telephone customer service rep and wanting to call him a bad name, or making a little lie of an excuse instead of saying no.

It’s not that by having these thoughts or saying these words we become bad people. It’s just that these things become useless junk that clutters our inner space and does not contribute to our inner wellbeing.

inner-cleanse2.jpg
Photo by Carlos Yepez (see him on flickr).

I had learned the following simple but incredibly effective technique from Swami Nithya Bhaktananda, spiritual counselor and direct disciple of Paramahamsa Nithyananda (Swamiji).

Follow these four rules to inner cleanse:

  1. Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
  2. Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone.
  3. Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside.
  4. Don’t say unless it is true, useful or kind.

I will expand on each rule in detail. If you want, you can print a wallet size of the 4 rules here: PDF | Word Doc

 

The 4 Rules to Quiet the Mind – Explained

1. Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

Part A: Say what you mean.

Have you found yourself making up excuses to avoid fully dealing with a potentially uncomfortable situation?

For example, your friend asks you to some social event. You don’t really want to go, but make up an excuse that “I can’t make it” or “I’m busy“, probably so you can quietly avoid something or someone or some activity.

Another example, someone asks you for a favor that you do not wish to comply to, but you feel guilty for rejecting him, so you either avoid that person (ie. Ignoring emails or phone calls), or create an excuse that isn’t really true (ie. I am out of town.)

It is not that you cannot do something, as your excuse suggests. The truth is that you have chosen not to do something, but the act of creating an excuse or avoiding it initiates a stir in your inner space, and it takes energy to maintain. Instead of stillness and peace, you are now holding onto and thinking about this little lingering “lie”.

When you are about to say anything, make a conscious decision to say the absolute truth, or what you actually mean. The absolute truth doesn’t have to be harsh or hurtful, you can do so compassionately and authentically, but firmly. When you own what you say, no one can reject it, even if they don’t like what they hear; because you are telling the truth and you mean it.

Part B: Mean what you say.

Sometimes we say things in passing out of obligation or habit that we don’t mean or intend on following through with. For example, we say, “I love you” to our parents or significant other when we hang up the phone, not because we mean it, but out of habit. The words comes so automatically now, that they start to lose their true meaning.

In another example, we will say, “I’ll call you soon“, “let’s chat soon“, or “I’ll call you tomorrow“. Or we offer to help, as parting words to a friend, and don’t intend on keeping that statement, but say it because it was easy and made the other person feel good.

We may think that these casual comments are harmless, but we know deep down that they are not true. They become little lies that we internalize, and over time they will develop into a guilty conscience that distracts you away from this moment.

Make a conscious commitment to yourself to mean everything that you say, and not to make empty promises that you cannot, will not, do not intend to fulfill.

 

2. Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone.

Whether we admit to this or not, most of us love some form of gossiping (myself included). We are also quick to notice fault in others, and then talk about them with our trusted allies. Or we find out about someone’s misfortune and immediately we want to tell somebody.

I’m sure you can interject and include many examples from your life. But for sake of conversation, one example is: Jenny, at work, had an emotional fit and yelled at a co-worker today, and when we got home, we immediately told our spouse about the drama.

Another example, Pat was fired from his job, once we heard about it, we called or text-messaged our best friend Jane to tell her about it, or even exchange jokes about Pat, because we don’t like him.

In both examples, we cannot repeat the same things to everyone, especially Jenny or Pat. And if we really observed our inner space during and after we said these things, we wouldn’t feel very good in our stomach.

When we consciously observe such a conversation, we learn that we have accomplished nothing that feeds our soul. All we did was spread drama and created negative energy and inner conflict that polluted our inner space.

Make a commitment to yourself, that you will not say something to one person, unless you can announce it to the world, to everybody. Make a commitment to stop the spreading of drama and bad energy.

3. Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside.

Most of us are extremely critical of ourselves. Because we would never tell the world what we say to ourselves, in the privacy of our mind, we believe that we are the only ones affected by negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and anxiety.

When something doesn’t go perfectly, we are first to blame ourselves, criticizing what we did wrong, what we didn’t do perfect enough, what we missed.

We all have inner chattering, but problems arise when we start to believe in our inner chattering, such that false beliefs about ourselves are formed. These false beliefs become detrimental to our spirits and future wellbeing, unless we do something to unlearn these beliefs.

Next time, you hear the voice in your head say “I’m stupid” or “I’m not good enough” or “I am a failure” or other related self-defeating thoughts, recognize that it is not you. You could verbally say, “That’s not me! That’s not true!” and even declare the following to this thought,

From today forward, I choose to let you go, for you are no longer serving me. I am exposing you, for you are not real! From today onward, I am free from you.

The basic premise of the third rule to inner cleanse is that, whatever thought you are not able to say out aloud to people (anyone), don’t even bother entertaining inside your head. Keep your inner space clean.

 

4. Don’t say unless it is true, useful or kind.

Some people have so much inner chatter that it spills out of them in the form of useless speech.

Observe the people who talk on buses, or love to chitchat at work by the water fountain. If you observe and count the number of things they say that are actually useful or truly interesting, it would be a low number.

Not only is this distracting for those around this person, it takes an enormous amount of energy for this person to keep talking. Recall the last time you talked for a long time about something random, and how drained you felt afterwards. Plus, the more useless things we say, the more useless things we feed back into our head.

If you feel that I’ve described you, don’t feel discouraged. I’ve been there too, and can contest that it is possible to quiet down.

Some people practice sabbatical days where they don’t speak at all, or read, or use the computer. And at the end of such a day, they feel a tremendous sense of peace, space and energy bubbling inside them.

Be conscious of what you say and only say it if any of the following is true:

Is what I’m saying …

  • True to me? An authentic statement from my heart?
  • Useful or helpful to someone or some situation?
  • Kind or compassionate? Such as a compliment, or an offer of help?

Parting Words: On Quieting The Mind

This post was born out of 4 simple sentences someone gave me a few months ago. After practicing it in my own life, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you give this simple 4-line guidance a try for 21 days, you will notice a beautiful inner transformation – from noise to stillness, from chaos to clarity.

It may seem difficult at first, but do it consistently and consciously for 3 days and it becomes much easier after that. Extend it to 7 days, and then to 21 days. Please do not kick yourself for slipping on the rules, it happens, let it go.

After some time, observe how your outer world changes, as your inner world is transformed. Please come back and share with us.

One more thing: Let your heart guide you. Trust it, and listen to it.

(Again, you can print a wallet size of the 4 rules here: PDF | Doc)

Editor’s Note: Speaking of slipping the rules, while Jeremy was editing this article, he stopped at one point, to colorfully curse out the upstairs neighbor for making loud bizarre noises. Then we both looked at each other and laughed at the irony. Another lesson learned.

* Share your thoughts and story with us in the comment section.
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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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141 thoughts on How to Quiet Your Mind

  1. Very nice article! I too am on a journey to achieve inner and out peace. Thank you for this.

  2. trackermike

    Its amazing sometimes how the things you think are something only you are experiancing in your mind are common to so many. for the last year or more I have been seeking ways to calm my mind. I learned that I have borderline high blood pressure and I don’t want to end up on blood pressure meds for the rest of my life like my brother and father. I decided to use meditation ( when I actually take time to do it), and this did help. but, I still find my mind constantly turning as I call it, and sometimes I can’t stop it. this is the best advice I’ve come across. I’m looking forward to using it.

  3. Jonny

    This is my way:

    Don’t believe me, Don’t believe yourself, and don’t believe anybody else!

    Before you do this I recommend reading- The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, and then — The Fifth Agreement.

    This is really a great method.

  4. PeaceOfMind

    Thank you for this blog. I was having a hard time and this blog just gave me a sense of ease. I will print out the rules and read it out loud to myself every night. I am destined to attack the chatters with these four rules read out loud, so they will chatter up these four rules rather than the negative chatters. I thank your kind souls.

  5. Thank you so much for this post!!! It’s truly amazing. Just before I fell upon this page I had been thinking about ways of gaining direction and a clear vision for my life and when I read this, it almost brought me to tears because it is exactly what I needed!

  6. MAAKA

    I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I believe that the truth is that i wanted answeres…….. I got them……. I wasnt ready. I woke up one morning after my life had fallen apart…. All my symptoms had gone…. I have a quiet mind………. There is no limit to what you can achive. Once you realise this you can start playing……. If you can reach a relaxt and spiritual mind anything is posoble. remember have fun

  7. Me

    Don’t watch the news every 10 minutes like some people do. If you have to, watch it once a day. Also, pay no attention to adverts. Put the TV on mute or make a cup of tea when they come on. They just fill your mind with useless information (same goes for adio which is why I listen to mp3s or other pre-recordings). These are two steps to hut out useless information.

  8. Shaf

    I always feel at ease and at peace…it’s like a constant for me. I’m continuously overflowing with joy and bliss on a daily basis, such that i feel free of problems and emotional pain. Since this was the case for me, i went straight to the comment section, but i’m not gonna reveal my secrets yet.. Yet is so simple.. you just got to want it…

    Even though the above has been said…. it seems i cannot turn off my mind, not that it bothers me, but most of the time since my brain is active, i sleep for a very little amount of time.. i can sleep for long hours but it’s only to find the sleep that i have issues. I’m always thinking of things…mostly happy things, but then what i’m thinking about does not wave away my mood, long story but part of the secret.. happiness is my bench mark my mood does not go under it…

    so what would you advise?

  9. lohl

    im guessing, inner speech : self conscience, so just let yourself know its the self conscience and there will be scilence, after a period of time it comes back, again remind yourself thats your self conscience and there will be calm and round and round and one day you will be calm and ready 4ever. thats why in lot of songs and movies and boox they say stay true 2 your self

  10. Good lesson here. I definitely need this. Keep up the good work!

  11. Cholemet

    A truly wonderful article on gaining inner peace and coincidentally, some of the advice you gave like going on a sabbatical day, I actually made a conscious decision to have one yesterday and that was to be away from my laptop! So it’s amazing what sorts of ideas we can come up with to give us inner peace. The rest of your article has been really helpful in giving me some clarity to achieve inner peace. I have been practising this for a quite a while now and I must say, it does take time, and it is important to have faith in yourself when you are on this mission and a lot of patience, then over a few days you will begin to experience a new kind of transformation. Thank you for this great piece :)

  12. sean

    So I know there’s those of us that, like me, tried and just couldn’t follow Tina Su all the way. I made it to the phone call example before I realized Tina and I are just very different people. Tina loves gossip; I’m feeling awkward and looking for a quick conversation ender. Tina’s very polite to the point of little white lies; I’m naturally blunt as a spoon and it causes me no end of grief.

    The examples clarifying her rules clearly weren’t meant for me. A lot of her advice would lead to a more cluttered mind for me, and that’s okay. There are obviously a lot of other people that her advice really struck a cord with, and I’m glad that it’s out there.

    What I wanted to say, is to everyone else reading this that maybe start out feeling like there was common ground, only to have it swept out from under our feet and were left feeling maybe even a little alienated. I’m going to add a rule 5.

    Rule 5: If any of these rules isn’t working for you, don’t use it. It’s okay. I, the words on the internet you’re reading, hereby formally give you permission to ignore me from time to time if you need to. I’m wrong sometimes, and even when I’m right, right doesn’t always mean helpful.

    It sounds like a paradox but it isn’t, this includes rule 5. Don’t use rule 5 as an excuse. If anything, rule 5 places an added burden on you. You were looking for simple rules like this on the internet for a reason, remember? And someone else gave you some. You can to throw these away but your problem isn’t solved, so you either “roll your own” or keep looking.

    If they are working, the reason she suggested printing them on a card is discipline. You’re simply more likely to keep yourself to them if you went through the trouble of printing them and putting them in your wallet. Don’t let 5 get in the way of that.

    Rule 5 is just taking what you can from articles like this online. The meditation exercise, I did it while listening to some surf guitar. I said “the music is the only thing that will fill my mind”, and you know what? It “worked”. By “worked” I mean I got all those interrupting thoughts, and I was really aware of my inner chatter. I understood exactly what Tina was talking about.

    So with that in mind, thank you Tina for an extremely helpful article. I’m under a lot of stress and I couldn’t clear my mind well enough to read a single page in a book, and some of what you said helped.

  13. John Dunlap

    The secret is to love and be loved. Live and let Live. Use positive energy and closely analyze situations in a positive aspect. In more physical terms learn to respect yourself and the environment around you. I recommend seeing a Planet Earth movie or something because it positively stimulates your mind. Get rid of violent video games or TV shows. To establish inner peace with yourself is the key to a happy, and pleasureful life. Your mentality is the key to everything when stuff goes downhill begin looking for the positive about it. Learn to be an opportunist. There are 3 big emotions in life that we all go through. Happy, Sad, and Love. Happy and Love are typically the good emotions but can also harm you. With too much happiness brings sadness to balance out the equilibrium. This is called Le Chattevliers principle. In essence learn to BALANCE OUT YOUR LIFE AND RESPECT THE LIVES OF OTHERS AND THE ENVIROMENT AROUND YOU. LEARN TO CARESS ENERGY FROM THE FORCES AROUND YOU BECOME ONE WITH THE FLOW OF THIS PLANET. THANK YOU FOR READING LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW.

  14. Jody

    thank you so much. from now i will use these instructions on a daily basis. this really, really helped me. thank you again.

  15. Robin

    I think it’s good advice, but is it really always possible? For example, let’s say your roommate invites you to go on a fun trip but you are supposed to work. Can you just tell your boss the truth? I was going to that but everyone and their brother was telling me to say I was sick. So I called in sick. Now I feel just a little bit guilty every time I talk to my boss. But if I had told the truth I may have been fired. So it’s really not always so easy to do these 4 things.

  16. Anita

    Hi Tina,
    Amazing advice! This is something that I will start practising from now on and I’m sure that it will make a huge difference.

    Thanks!!!!

  17. CML

    Has anyone given these four rules a try and struggled? I found the first few days okay, when I was actively practicing them, but then I strangely found myself starting to feel down and it got difficult. My friends started asking me what was wrong and why was I so quiet! I don’t know if this just shows how much crap I normally speak and this is what sombered me, or if it was something else. I would be interested to know if anyone has had a similar experience and how they got past it. Thanks

  18. Ralph

    Tina,

    I tried your suggestion (“Close your eyes for about a minute (or 5 minutes), and during this minute, send out the intention that you want silence and stillness…”)

    I did that. I have some past experience with meditation, and so it worked. My mind was quiet for about 2 minutes. That was wonderful! Thank you.

    My problem with meditation, though, has not been learning how; I managed to do that. My problem is actually doing it. I never seem to want to, even though I usually feel much better afterwards.

    If it seems that my behavior makes no sense, I can tell you that it certainly makes no sense to me.

    Do you have any thoughts or advice on that particular quandary?

    Ralph

    • Hi Ralph,

      I know what you are saying. I have the same issue. :)

      Let me reflect on this… and once I find a solution, I’ll let you know here.

      Intuitively, I feel that the solution is some how using external “tools” to hold ourselves accountable so that we are committed to doing it.

      For example, if I paid $1000 for a course, I will very likely make the time and complete it. But if I got the same course material for free, I will most likely not do it. The act of paying money in advanced somehow tricks my mind to commit and motivate it to take action. Similarly with gym memberships. If I paid a lot of money for a gym membership, I will more likely go. However, if someone gave me a membership for Free, I will value it less and not as likely actually go to the gym. This is the case, even though, I feel better after taking the action.

      Another example of using accountability is finding another person to do it with you. You are more likely to go jogging if you had a jogging partner than if you went on your own. The having of a partner creates this external accountability that motivates you to go, even if you don’t feel like it.

      So maybe joining a meditation class where you’ve paid money to go. Or finding a meditation partner. :)

      The other “solution” I feel is to work diligently at creating a routine around meditation. Where you consciously make it your highly priority everyday. And create a set time to do them each day. After repeating it a few days, it’ll start to stick. Treat it like other essential routines: eating, brushing teeth, etc.

      Let me know if any of these are helpful or other insights you have on the topic. I’d love to hear it.

      Tina

  19. Ralph

    Tina,

    Money motivation never seems to help me much, but I do like your ideas about a partner and a routine. I have a trainer who helps me with some exercise two or three times a week, and it occurs to me she might be willing to do a few minutes of meditation with me while she is here.

    Thank you!

    Ralph

  20. jose

    i play alot of tennis. and play guitar. i used to really be relaxed. for a long time. i am 58, and some of that is starting to change i feel as if some of that wants to come back. some of those good feelings

    i have gone thru about 7 funerals withing 10 years, and it’s sorta catching up with me.

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