Five Steps to a Quiet Mind

Most of us spend a lot of time dealing with our thoughts. Whether we are battling thoughts of the past, resisting our take on the present or obsessing about the future, we spend a lot of time trying to deal with our thinking.

So how can we escape our thinking and experience a quiet mind? We can take steps to not only leave our thoughts alone but allow them to move on without us having to do anything to get them moving.

Spiritual teachers tell us that we feel our thinking; we experience our thinking physically via our senses so every thought is brought to life and feels real to us. As science is showing us again and again, our senses cannot always be trusted. Just because a memory of a horror film fills us with fear does not mean we are at threat. We are just able to create a full experience of our thinking via our senses.

By trying to get rid of a thought we don’t like, we actually hang on to it and create more thinking about it. All of that thinking can feel overwhelming and noisy and we get caught up in the feeling of overwhelm and stress.

Luckily, things work best for us in the mind when we don’t get involved. When we take our focus off of unhelpful thoughts and refuse to engage with them, we allow space for new thoughts to come along and take their place. Of course thoughts flow through our minds all day every day, so inevitably we’ll at some stage experience the uncomfortable thoughts again but if we try not to obsess over them, we’ll find that every time we leave them alone, new thoughts come along that bring a new experience with them.

If our thoughts are reflected as feelings, it might then follow that we can use our feelings as a guide to how helpful our thinking is for us in the moment. Overwhelm and stress are rarely helpful for us so what if those feelings are signalling to us that our thoughts in that moment aren’t helpful? Just like a food intolerance is signalled by an uncomfortable physical reaction.

When we recognise our emotions as a reflection of the state of our thinking in the moment, we come to see that a stressed mind results in a stressed emotional state. From this new awareness, it makes less sense to act from the space of stress and overwhelm than we may have previously believed. Often our desire to be free of a certain feeling urges us to do something about it but what if it moves on automatically when we leave it alone?

When we stop acting on uncomfortable feelings and stop engaging with unhelpful thoughts, our mind naturally quietens down. Uncomfortable feelings are often signs we should do less in our minds rather than more.

So, what can we do to access a quiet mind? Here are five steps that might help you:

Understand that:

  1. We are thinking beings. We all think all of the time and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be alive.
  2. Our experience in the moment is our thinking brought to life via our senses, making it feel real.
  3. We can use our feelings and emotions as a guide to the state of our thinking in the moment.
  4. We can experience peace of mind by allowing our thoughts to quieten down and flow as they are designed to.
  5. At some point new thoughts come along that bring new feelings with them.

By reflecting on the connection between thoughts and feelings, we naturally start to allow our thoughts to settle down when we notice they are unhelpful. Until now unhelpful feelings have felt too real to ignore. However, we find letting them go – rather than trying to move them on – allows us to calm down. It therefore makes sense to stop engaging with unhelpful thoughts and acting on the unhelpful feelings they create and instead allow new thinking and feeling to come along to replace them.

If we stop engaging with unhelpful thinking and begin allowing our thoughts to flow, we’ll experience more frequent moments of peace. Of course at times we will get caught up in unhelpful thinking but if we just step back from the experience of it, we’ll find those thoughts move on more easily than if we try to do it ourselves and we’ll experience a quiet mind more often throughout our day.