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Quiet the Mind

January 23, 2013 , , , , , , , , ,


By Jim Rettew

My priest would always start the service by saying a prayer to quiet our minds.  It’s no wonder.  Some experts say we think up to 1500 words a minute, and with all that chatter, its hard to relax.

We often hear dual voices in our brain.  One of the voices is the strong silent type.  Our bodies carry out quiet instructions from the brain – run, breathe, smile, relax – all without us really knowing about it because it works under the surface.  When this happens, we life in the zone.  Things feel effortless, calm, expected, and controllable.   The other is a chatty, negative voice, and it fills our head.  It’s parental, like a strict father.  It’s never happy, and it lets us know it.  It degrades us, globalizes negative events, and is loud and obnoxious.

You don’t have to buy into your thoughts.  You’re still the same good person, who knows what to do if the mind would just be quiet and get out of the way.  What went through your head are just thoughts, and thoughts are not real.  Just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s important.  Thoughts are like wispy little clouds, and you are a mountain.  You are the principle witness to decide whether they’re real or not, and the more you look at your thoughts, the more you’ll realize that your brain sometimes acts like a spoiled 5 year old having a temper tantrum.

The best way to stop the chatter, to quiet the mind, and to increase focus is through meditation.  As a meditative practice, simply observe the breathing process for five minutes or more. Do not force your breathing; observe it without interfering. Whenever any thoughts arise that distract you from your focus (and they will constantly), gently acknowledge them by labeling what you’re doing (“thinking”) let them go, and return your attention to your breath.   You don’t have to attack or relent to any thought.  Just look at it, observe it, and return to your breath as many times as you are distracted.   With practice, this will become a means of entry into a quiet mind and a life of flow.

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