How to Silence the Mind in Meditation
As a yoga instructor, I have heard many people say they feel averted from meditating because they feel they cannot still their thoughts, that their mind is a constant flow of inner drama. The mind is similar to our heart in the way that the “job” of the mind is to constantly think, process, project, categorize, assimilate, judge, jump to the future and hold onto the past, just as it is the “job” of the heart to continually pump blood through our body.
There are numerous meditation techniques but in my understanding of meditation, the goal is not to still the thoughts, but to become the active observer of the mind. In various yogic philosophies, the mind is called manas, and the intellect or the discerning, discriminating mind is referred to as the budhi.
Rather than struggle with the objective to still the thoughts in the mind, one may first want to simply try to observe what Consciousness is revealing with these streams of thoughts, by taking on the aspect of budhi, the watcher, witness, seer.
By noticing the patterns of our own thought process (manas), we recognize our ‘habits’, vasanas, grooves in the mind, like grooves in a worn record from repeated playing of a favorite song. When we become familiar with our patterns of thought, we can then become less attached to the internal conversation and naturally transcend our own thoughts as we learn to release old habits, old patterns of thinking and merge with Absolute Consciousness, allowing room for spontaneous meditation to happen.
Spontaneous meditation can happen as we focus deeply on anything that holds our attention. We could be painting, listening to music or walking in nature. Meditation is when our mind becomes steady, balanced, tranquil and joyous. Rigidity stops the flow of energy, so an attitude of observation, acceptance and release is necessary.
Tips for Your Meditation Practice
Creating a special place for meditation can help establish your practice by bringing sacredness to it.
As we become more familiar and comfortable with a sense of balance, we find it easier to watch our breath, clear our mind of excess thoughts and move deeper into a meditative state.
It is suggested that we follow the meditative path that resonates with us the most. Meditation is a practice that needs to develop daily with patience and compassion, just as we would care and train a puppy who has yet to learn how to behave.
Each attempt that is made to meditate, prepares us for the next meditation. Each effort in meditation is never a waste of time. Just as we create muscle memory in our bodies as we practice yoga, or condition ourselves for any other activity, each meditation creates the setting for subtle body memory, and opens the seat of intuition.
Meditation is a gift that continues to unfold to reveal something new, offering us an opportunity to discover Grace within us.
Om Namah Shivaya.