Many people desire to understand how to quiet the mind; or how to achieve a completely silent mind during meditation. It’s something that takes practice, but with the help of this simple exercise, you can do it, too.
As you learn to silence the mind, it might seem weird at first to be without that inner noise. Scary, even. So do it in stages and small increments, and get used to ever-increasing periods of silence.
Quieting the Mind
Note: you can use this trick, once you’ve learned it, in any situation — whether you’re stressed out and anxious, you can’t sleep, you’re stuck in a worry loop, you’re trying to calm yourself before exams, presentations, or competition.
First, find a quiet place you can relax and listen to your favorite track. Put on your headphones, get comfortable, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Make sure the volume is not too high (so that it doesn’t intrude on the exercise). Even at low volume, you’re still benefiting from the entrainment frequencies.
Take a few deep cleansing breaths. This will help your body and mind relax.
The rest of the exercise can be done as many times as you like. Warning: It’s deceptively simple but actually quite challenging!
First, connect with the breath. When is the last time you really paid attention to your breathing? It’s something we do unconsciously most of the time but to silence the mind, there really is no better tool. In this exercise, don’t control your breath in any way. Let it be how it is and become an impartial observer.
Bring your focus to the inhale. Become aware of the breath as it enters your nose and moves through the breathing passages. Feel the expansion of the abdomen as your lungs fill up. Note the pause — the silence — between inhale and exhale. This silence and stillness are what you’re aiming for, both physically and mentally. Now focus on the exhale.
What are the sensations you feel as the air leaves your body?
Again, take note of the pause between exhale and inhale, that momentary stillness and silence.
Do this for a few minutes to allow your body and mind to relax deeper. Now you have a quick idea of how mental silence feels. It’s actually pretty relaxing, isn’t it?
As your mental chatter slows down, you will start to count to ten on every half-breath: one on the inhale, two on the exhale, three on the inhale, and so on until you get to ten (feel free to repeat as many times as you like). Again you’re not controlling the breath in any way, just counting the breaths and noticing the silence/pause between inhale and exhale.
In the beginning, as you’re learning this practice, it will be hard to stop thoughts from intruding and interrupting your count. That’s okay! Just make it part of the meditation by being a silent witness to your thoughts.
Just as you’re watching your breath, momentarily watch your thoughts. Notice them, acknowledge them, and return to your breathing exercise. Continue the exercise by starting over at the count of one whenever you notice that thought has intruded.
It sounds simple, but in truth, it can be a very difficult exercise when first learning how to quiet the mind. However, it leads to amazing mental mastery, and with practice, you WILL get it, and feel such a great sense of accomplishment when you do!
Master The Next Phase
The next phase is to count to ten on every full breath. Once you master counting to ten on the half-breath without any intruding thoughts, start counting to ten on every full breath: the first inhale/exhale is one, the next inhale/exhale is two, etc. Keep focused on the silent and still moments between the exhale and inhale.
As you can imagine, this slowed-down version is even more challenging.
The more you do this exercise, the more comfortable you’ll get with mental silence. Blissful, peaceful silence. Learning how to quiet the mind takes time and patience. And then it will be easier to make that silence a normal part of your meditation!
You can practice this anytime, even outside of meditation. It’s a great way to self-soothe in a difficult situation, give yourself some inner peace and even help you relax and get some sleep if you’ve been having sleepless nights.
And, best of all, enjoy the silence of a peaceful mind.