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  • Craig Kaufman

Meditation Exercise: Quiet Your Mind

Did you know that meditation can:

  • Improve your sleep

  • Enhance your sense of calm

  • Supercharge your creativity

Did you also know that one of the greatest challenges and also a fundamental principle in practicing meditation is quieting your mind.

We all have ongoing mental chatter, internal thoughts, conversations and endless worries that spin around in our heads making it difficult to achieve the calm we seek.

Over the last several decades I have experimented with many exercises to achieve a calm meditative state. And while we all need to find our own paths, perhaps I can share some helpful learnings. You can also visit the MindSpanse YouTube Channel to enjoy our guided meditations.

1. Do Not Resist Your Mental Chatter

No matter how hard we try, mental chatter and distracting thoughts rarely stop. In fact, the more you resist the stronger they become. It is well understood that the best way to quiet your unproductive self-talk is to become a detached observer. Just observe the thoughts as they pop up, sit with them for a moment and see if you can understand their origin, as if you were an explorer without judgment or attachment. If you stop feeding these thoughts with resistance, undue attachment, or attention, they will fade away over time.

2. Be a thorough explorer and enjoy the ride

It sounds counter intuitive, but in order to better understand how these distractions hijack our mind, we need to acknowledge them and let them take us for a little ride. Without resisting, let your mental chatter bounce around in your awareness a bit and recognize how powerful and convoluted they are. This observation and awareness helps you understand how silly the mind can be at times and how distracting thoughts try to wedge themselves into your peace and drag you away. Laugh at how tricky they can be.

3. Visualization Practice

In the meditation below, I have honed over 30 years of practice and will guide you to imagine you are sitting peacefully in a quiet river with the branches of a tall tree arching above you. The leaves of the tree represent your distracting thoughts. As one falls into the river, and floats by you, look at that thought, connect yourself to it, and allow it to drag you down the river away from your peaceful spot. Then release yourself from it and come back to your comfortable place under the tree branches. As you continue to do this, try to become more objective about your connection to this thought. Over time it will feel like you are watching a movie of yourself connected to this crazy idea dragging you away from your peace. Then, when the next leaf falls, let it pass you by, acknowledge it, and then let it drift along its merry way until it disappears off in the distance. You will feel lighter, stronger and more energetic as you allow each leaf to pass without becoming connected to it.

The more you do this type of practice the easier it becomes, and soon, your unproductive mental chatter will not impact you as strongly or as often. Through this exercise you will develop the awareness to recognize when you become distracted so that you can disconnect and come back to your peaceful, calm and happy self.

Enjoy our guided meditation on this practice.

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