3 Strategies for Quieting The Mind ~ Meditation

Mar 25, 13 3 Strategies for Quieting The Mind ~ Meditation

Have you ever sat down to meditate, just to have your mind RACE with thoughts?  How can you quiet a mind that just wants to run wild?  Here are three of the best techniques for quieting the mind, and mastering meditation.

1. The Mantra

MeditationDeepak Chopra really advocates using a mantra.  Mantras can be any word or sound  that tends to relax you.  Deepak promotes the use of ancient words that he claims the ‘soul will recognize’.  The word ‘Om’ (or Aum) is considered one of the most elemental sounds on his list, and is a common choice.  If the idea of chanting a mantra out loud makes you uncomfortable, don’t worry – its not necessary!  My experience shows that Mantras are best used in your head (at least for me.).

A simple mantra for beginners to try is just to say the word ‘Calm” on your inhale and ‘Peace” on your exhale.  You want to put all your focus into reciting the sound with the goal being that it drowns out all other thoughts.   It’s hard to think about your grocery list or that stupid thing you said yesterday while you’re sinking into the feeling of the word ‘peace’.  If your mind wanders, just refocus on the words, one for your inhale and one for the exhale.  Keep those nit-picky thoughts at bay!

2. The Count-Down

How far can you get before you think of that email you have to reply to?

How far can you get before you think of that email you have to reply to?

This is a method advocated by Spirit Science. (a great YouTube Channel, I highly recommend looking up some of their videos if you haven’t before.)  Find a quiet place, relax, close your eyes and slowly count backwards from 100 to zero.  In this case, you use the numbers just like the mantra – to block out other thoughts.  You want to focus on the numbers.  I like to say 99 on the inhale, 98 on the exhale etc. The countdown is really effective because mentally, you learn to manage the boredom of being in the 80’s, and then the anticipation of being in the 20’s  :)

After (finally!) reaching zero, you’re not done yet.  You then start back at 30 and do ANOTHER count-down to zero.  **If you successfully complete both count-downs in a measured and relaxed way, it is very likely that you can have a vision or experience in the space after reaching zero – especially if you are laying down.  This is because your body has become relaxed and still long enough that it is ‘falling asleep’ though the counting process has kept your mind conscious.  So you basically have a ‘lucid dream’.  The first time this happens its a real thrill, and you won’t be able to wait to try it again.

This is the method I’ve had the most success with.  I like that each session it generally takes the same amount of time to complete (about 20-25 min.) which is a good enough period to meditate.  Also, you can feel yourself getting better at the process, and you know when you are done. 😉

3. The Emergency Back-Up Plan (Perfect Breath)

Listening to the sound of the breath without creating any words in the secret to success...

Listening to the sound of the breath without creating any words in the secret to success…

There are some days where not only can I not do either of the above techniques, I don’t even want to.  I am just too impatient, and my mind is just too busy.  (Clearly I am not a pro yet huh?) That’s how I came up with my back-up plan.  I work on achieving just one perfect breath.  While I lay there with my eyes closed and my mind chattering away, I tell my brain that it only needs to be quiet for just one breath.  I silent my mind and focus on the sound of air coursing into my head and chest and then the higher pitch of it blowing back out.  There, done!  These silent breathes create a sliver of space that your spirit can gently fill.  If you can manage it with no extra thoughts creeping in, see if you can take two silent breathes.  Quiet the noise, and focus fully on two, slow, deep breaths…  The most I’ve been able to achieve is 4.  That’s because unlike mantas and the count-down, you are not focusing on a specific thought.  You are aiming for full silence.  Though its easy to do this for one-breath, achieving as many as 3 without have any errant thoughts or inner dialogue is difficult!

The Perfect Breath is a fantastic tool to incorporate into your day.  When my kids are running rampant and the oven is beeping, I close my eyes and just take one, perfect breath.  Just a few seconds, with no thoughts.  The more times you do this, the more space you open up to let your spirit expand.  Its a mini meditation in the crush of the day.  A great strategy.

Of course these are not the only ways to meditate.  But they are techniques that have worked for me, and they are ones that you can build on as you expand your practice and get better at this important skill.  Let me know in the comments what has worked for you, and if you have used any variations of these techniques!

~Katie