Life is so much easier when you know how to quiet the mind. Because with a quiet mind you can slow down and enjoy life.
Enlightened people such as monks and the spiritually awakened, we train the mind everyday just to slow down and to live in the moment.
Otherwise you get caught up in too much thinking.
But no one is perfect.
When we’re relaxed, we’re really relaxed. There are days we can sit by the beach or go for a walk in nature and we’re so tranquil that we genuinely feel one with the earth.
Other days are chaos.
When we go through stress at work or something doesn’t feel right in a relationship, we feel on edge, we feel restless, we feel antsy.
To be happy, healthy, and relaxed we need to know how to slow down the mind and find inner quiet.
When I learned to find inner quiet and slow down…
There will always be chaos in life.
The trick is knowing how to quiet the mind and slow down so you can have inner peace.
We’re all in the same boat here. We all suffer those moments of an anxious mind. In fact it is one of the top 17 Buddhist wisdoms that we will always experience suffering. So we had better learn how to handle it.
When I was 28 I suffered a terrible experience when I was completely broke and near homeless. Well; I was homeless for 24 hours. Then friends rescued me and helped me get back home to England.
But it was a seriously rough time.
At that time my mind felt like a tornado was running through it, tearing it to cinder.
I suffered extreme anxiety—actually I was told it was an acute stress reaction . This is a condition which identifies people who are high risk for post traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic event. And at times I would have uncontrollable panic attacks.
I always remember that time now. I always look back and think “Never again”.
And I mean it. Because I will never ever allow myself to experience that level of mental anguish again in my life.
But actually stopping anxiety was a challenge, mostly because for a time I didn’t know how to quiet my mind.
I empowered myself by learning the most powerful techniques to slow down the mind and stop thinking so many depressive thoughts. Some of those techniques were spiritual, some psychological, some just very basic points like giving myself time to relax.
I want to share 10 of those techniques with you . These are ten of the very best ways how to quiet your mind and slow down in times of stress or anxiety.
Why do we mean by slowing down a quietening the mind?
Slowing down and quietening the mind means to stop thinking so many thoughts. It means to be inwardly still and restful.
The way you feel before bed when you have had a truly great (and tiring) day. That is what it feels like to slow down and quiet the mind.
It also means to appreciate the moments of your life, because when your mind is slow you are free to look around and actually enjoy life.
And it means being content with what is. Accepting, rather than fighting.
Read these Buddhist tips for feeling satisfied in life. They’re really uplifting.
When you stop feeling rushed and learn to relax, life gets easier
For starters, when you relax you tend to be more efficient. You get things done to a higher standard.
Imagine you’re trying to send your resume off to new prospective employees. I’m just giving this example because it’s something I myself was doing literally two minutes ago.
So you want to get a new job. You think to yourself “The more people I send my resume to, the more chance I have of getting a job”. So you start sending it off to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
Before you know it ten, maybe twenty prospective employees have your resume. But then— (you know where I’m going here don’t you)—you suddenly realise that you put a typo in your resume because you rushed. So now ten / twenty employees have your error-laden resume.
Oops. You now then feel stressed (and a little stupid) because of your mistake. Your rushing achieved nothing. That’s a mistake I used to make when I used to always feel rushed.
But just why exactly, do you feel rushed all the time
I wanted to know the answer to that question so I enquired with several clever Facebook friends and also did some research.
The best answer seems to be that you’re suffering from Excessive time-urgency.
“Excessive time-urgency is a classic component of Type-A behavior. People who are overly time-oriented have a greater risk of cardiovascular and other health problems than more patient individuals. Excessive time-urgency is not conducive to effective stress-mastery, since one is constantly keeping one’s body at high anxiety and stress levels.”
You can read the full article over on the PsychCentral blog.
If you suffer from Time Urgency you become too concerned about schedules, deadlines, or just about rushing in general as you try to bite off more than you can chew. You think and worry too much instead of just living in the moment.
When you place too much emphasis on time you put unnecessary stress on yourself.
That stress prevents you from working efficiently, but it also affects your mind and body. It leads to anxiety and worry as you run around like a headless chicken.
Trust me, I’ve been there. I used to dash about like a mad man trying to get a bazillion things done, and I’d end up in more of a mess than I started in.
So what’s the solution to this time urgency? How do you stop feeling rushed all the time?
No doubt different people will have different answers. But for me the answer came from mindfulness.
I learnt that I could do everything that I needed to do and do it in a mindful way.
No matter what I was doing I would focus on that one thing absolutely. If I was cleaning the dishes I’d focus on cleaning the dishes and absolutely nothing else would enter my mind until those dishes were looking all sparkly clean. If I was cooking I would do Zen Cooking.
You can always be mindful.
In my experience there is literally nothing that you can’t do mindfully.
You can wake up mindfully, be mindful throughout the day, and then go to bed mindfully. And in my experience (and in the experience of other people I have taught mindfulness too), when you’re mindful you get more done and everything you do is generally done to a higher quality.
You also don’t get stressed when you’re mindful. You don’t feel like you’re in a frantic rush. You feel calm, still, and tranquil. It’s a much better mindset to be in.
10 Ways To Quieten The Mind And Slow Down
1. Stop Rushing
When I was a kid I thought going fast was the cool thing to do. I wanted to race through everything. I always wanted more and more. [READ: Stop Rushing]
Looking back now that I’m a little older and a little wiser, I know the error of my ways.
Now I appreciate slowness.
When you go slow:
- your breathing rate drops
- your heartbeat balances
- your thoughts subside
- and you simply feel so much more relaxed and happy.
This is the most simple but also the most important way to quiet your mind. Just stop rushing down.
In my experience the best way to do this is by learning some mindful habits.
2. Be mindful of your environment
You know what makes me sad? All those people who race through life and never take the time to stop and smell the roses.
What’s the point in a life that’s so rushed you don’t get to enjoy anything?
Take ten minutes to connect with your five senses.
Observe what you are experiencing via your:
When we are rush we lose touch of our senses. When we see everything through ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, we stop living in the moment.
3. Like Mr Miyagi, “Wax on, wax off”
You know that scene in The Karate Kid when Mr Miyagi teaches DanielSon to wash the car by “Wax on, Wax off”. That scene is so much more poignant than I realised when I first saw the movie as a kid.
Performing a slow task makes you more mindful. And when we are mindful (consciously living in the moment) we are more relaxed and happier.
Did you know: chores are a very important part of a Buddhist monk’s life. Monks use these chores as meditative practices to slow down the mind and increases consciousness.
Buddhists have a practice called “Soji”. It’s a meditative time in which they clean-up. They clean up without a desire to finish. The purpose of the cleaning is in the cleaning itself .
Slow, meaningful work quiets the mind and promotes inner peace.
That’s why Tai Chi is so beneficial.
Tai Chi is all about simple and slow exercises. It’s almost the opposite of exercise actually. Most exercise elevates your heart rate. Tai Chi slows you down and relaxes your mind.
Another great exercise to get into is Aikido, the peaceful martial art that is about stopping an enemy without hurting them. It’s a meditative martial art that teaches the mind to be peaceful and to slow down.
4. I’ve lived through so many horrors. Some of them even happened
How many times have you imagined horrible things that never actually happened?
That’s the basis of anxiety, isn’t it? You think something awful is going to happen but it’s only in your mind.
We all do that.
Even positivity warriors do that, if they’re honest.
Human evolution has taught us to notice possible dangers before possible opportunities. That stems from the times when we were cavemen, when we had to think “That shadow on the wall could be a T-Rex”.
But we don’t live with T-Rex’s anymore. And we don’t need fear like we did millions of years ago.
So it is a good idea to use some techniques to stop fear. Every time you think something awful is going to happen, check in with reality. “Is this real?” ask yourself. Nine times out of ten your anxiety will be 99% imagined and even when there is a justifiable reason for being anxious, you’ll imagination the situation being 100 times worse than it actually is.
Thankfully, today we have access to many powerful psychological techniques to stop negative thoughts, which the enlightened among us practice diligently.
5. Stop the self criticism
You don’t need Simon Cowell living in your head.
Simon Cowell. Yeah, that guy from the Idol shows who tells everyone they’re crap. He’s like a reflection of a judgmental and self critical mind.
You don’t need Simon Cowell living in your head—well, he’d probably pay damn good rent, but… I digress…
Next time Simon Cowell is sitting in your head (by which I mean, the next time you’re being overly self critical), say “Oi, Cowell, NO!” Or, just remind yourself to stop being nasty to yourself. Speak to yourself kindly, lovingly, the way you would speak to your best friends.
Practicing Loving Kindness Meditation will help.
6 . Your fear has made you powerful (Emperor Palpatine quote from Star Wars)
You know Emperor Palpetine from Star Wars? He’s the mean looking S.O.B in a cloak who’s obsessed with the dark side.
He actually had a point when he told Luke that his fear had made him powerful. Because that anxious energy you carry around inside of you? You can channel that.
Find that anxious energy and release it. Exercise. Use it to power through your stresses. Make the most of it. It is energy, after all.
Read: How To Use Negative Energy.
7. Mindfully appreciate nature
Our minds have been taught that when we lie down it’s time to relax. So when you do lie down, your brain tries to produce relaxing energy. Sometimes it fails, which is why we’ll lie in bed stressing. Most of the time it succeeds.
When we lie down we relax.
Try lying down beneath the blue sky and gazing up at the clouds.
Nature spreads its beauty for a reason. And I like to think that nature has my back.
Nature is our best friend. That’s why we really do need to protect it.
I’ve shared some great tips on mindfully lying down in this guide to sleep.
8. Take a long walk
Hippocrates said “Walking is man’s best medicine”. He’s not right. Not quite. Because in my opinion cats are man’s best medicine.
But walking definitely is good for the soul. And walking is a great way to quiet the mind and slow down.
So get out for a lovely long walk. Not on a treadmill. In the beauty of nature.
For bonus points, take a Zen Walk.
9. Try Nine Round Breathing
Nine Round Breathing is an ancient Buddhist meditation technique that quickly quiets the mind.
This is a very similar technique to Alternative Nostril Breathing.
Do you know how awesome pets are?
Oh wait, yeah, you do, because you’re probably an animal lover.
So you wont be surprised when I say “animals will cure your mind of stress and anxiety”. Spending time with pets is one of the best ways of slow down the mind.
Actually, science has proven that there are all sorts of physical and psychological benefits of animals. Plus, when you have pets you get free snuggles. And that can only be a good thing.
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11. Tibetan Singing Bowls and meditative instruments
You have probably tried meditating. But have you tried meditating on a Tibetan Singing Bowl?
Tibetan Singing Bowls are Buddhist instruments that are an aid in meditation.
These bowls create specific frequencies that make the mind enter a relaxing state of theta brainwaves.
I personally love to listen to singing bowl recordings while I work. It gives my mind that relaxed-focused state I need for productivity.
Take a look at the link above for a complete guide to buying and using a singing bowl.
We’re at our happiest when we have a quiet, slow mind
A quiet and slow mind is one of the best things for happiness and inner peace. That’s something we learn as we grow up (when we gain an appreciation for things like Zen Gardens and walking).
A slow mind let’s us enjoy the moments. It gives us the mental space to live more freely. And it helps both the body and mind to be relaxed and healthy.
What are your favorite ways of slowing down and making your mind quiet?
Leave a comment, and remember to share.
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