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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

5 Techniques to Quiet Your Mind And Stay Present

5 Techniques to Quiet Your Mind And Stay Present

Everyone wants to live a good life. The good news is that you can improve the quality of your life by learning how to quiet your mind and stay present.

This article presents 5 techniques on how you can do this. With persistence and patience, you can successfully learn and master these techniques. But before that, let’s first discuss a few things about your mind and thoughts.

The Mind in General

The total sum of your knowledge and experience is acquired through your mind. Every ability, every performance, every recognition is conducted by your mind. Yet, you are not your mind! This is paradoxical and quite irritating, especially when we can’t see the difference between these statements.

If everything I know and everything I can experience must pass through my mind, then how come I am not my mind?

You’re not—at least not entirely.

You’re not the thoughts you’re producing unless you put them into action, but this is another topic. Here, we want to find out how to manage and quiet the mind and not get managed by it. The techniques explained here will help you do that so you can face all your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

The mind’s purpose is to construct thoughts and produce reason as a result. This includes combining thoughts, feelings, emotions, and logic; making recognitions, creating mental skills and virtues, and dwelling in revelations, celebrations, and disconsolation.

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Using the mind for these purposes and being aware of them exhibits mastery over the mind.

Normally, when the mind is not used as per the above mentioned mental qualities and activities but only for a random and superficial use, it becomes not only busy and dynamic but also mostly dominant. We get trapped in the easiest and laziest patterns that the mind sees as comfortable—then comes the need to quiet the mind (thoughts, feelings, and emotions).

Thoughts, Feelings, and Emotions

Because our mind is overwhelmed by the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that it creates, it makes us believe that that’s what reality is—our reality, which isn’t actually. Our mind is tricking us with its infinite capacity and velocity of constructing all kinds of thoughts.

Therefore, the techniques to quiet the mind and stay present helps us see that our reality is not our thoughts, feelings, or emotions. Our mind is the most beautiful tool, capable of understanding the world with everything good and bad in it—making life a great and valuable experience on every level.

And surely, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are also tools for making that happen.

By using the techniques in this article, you can better understand your feelings and emotions and not only quiet the mind but also acquire emotional intelligence.

At first, you might experience a state of bliss and nothingness. But our goal here is to quiet the mind and make use of the present moment.

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These techniques are meant to quiet your mind and show you that your feelings of sadness, happiness, or any other emotion are not the essence of your reality—the essence of the present moment.

Using Your Senses as Tools

The techniques I created involve the five senses, and they will be closely working with your feelings and emotions. They are designed to get your mind’s focus on only one of your senses and make you see how your mind can calm down.

While you execute these techniques, you’ll be able to realize the presence of your action—the present moment—by creating a mindful bond between you and your feelings. Through practicing and acquiring the knowledge you’ll get to the experience of emotions, which can positively influence sensory processing and add value when dealing with difficult everyday life situations.

Very important instruction: Try not to get involved with your emotions right away. Just let the feelings you produce quiet your mind and settle you in the present moment.

Once you become confident with the experience of the feelings, you can then deal with facing, decoding, and managing your emotions.

5 Techniques to Quiet Your Mind and Stay Present

Here are 5 techniques to help you quiet your mind for a better quality of life.

1. The Subtle Seeing Technique

A vision is born with closed eyes!

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  1. Simply close your eyes and project an image of something you really like—something that is present at the point of creating the image. This could be the face of a loved one or a specific element of nature that’s meaningful to you; the sun, the water, the wind, a landscape with trees, a mountain, a river, and so on.
  2. Breathe gently and deeply into this image. Try not to involve memories or create further imagination into that subtle seeing. Become one with this image. Life is how you see things within you.
  3. Use your feelings that this subtle seeing has created, and see how your mind instantly calms down and how your concentration makes use of your present moment.

Breathe gently into your feelings and enjoy the beauty of your vision.

2. The Subtle Hearing Technique

The silence is your inner sound!

  1. Cover your ears and feel the sound streaming inside your head. With closed or open eyes, focus on the streaming of that sound.
  2. Focus on the stream of your breathing and recognize the difference between these two sounds. They are different but constant. Try to connect as deeply as possible with these sounds.
  3. Use your feelings that this subtle hearing has created, and see how your mind instantly calms down and how your concentration makes use of your present moment.

Breathe gently into your feelings and enjoy the harmony of your rhythmic melody.

3. The Subtle Smelling Technique

A good smell can knock you off with a feather!

  1. Take a scent that you really like—one that takes you deep within you. Inhale the smell gently and deeply, and focus on the feelings that emerge from it.
  2. It doesn’t have to involve any memories nor create any imagination. Just identify what you feel from the scent.
  3. Use your feelings and see how your mind instantly calms down and how your concentration makes use of your present moment.

Breathe gently into your feelings and enjoy the enchantment of your scent.

4. The Subtle Tasting Technique

Flavour shapes character!

  1. Take a natural flavor that you really like—for, me this would be dark chocolate, Jasmin tea, or a coffee. Take any natural flavor that you like. After consuming it, have your tongue run through your palate.
  2. Try to connect deeply with that flavor, and see what kinds of feelings emerge from it. Acknowledge that this whole process takes place in the present moment.

Breathe gently into your feelings and enjoy the richness of your flavor.

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5. The Subtle Touching Technique

Palms can heal!

  1. Start slowly rubbing your palms. Notice the heat being created through the friction.
  2. Place your palms on your face and feel the heat entering your face. Rub your palms and place them on your eyes or any other part of your head. Feel the heat of your palms entering your head.
  3. Feel the quietness of your mind through your palms. See this process as one long moment of presence. Breathe gently into your feelings and enjoy the energy of your touch.

Meditation and Breath as the Primary Technique

All of the above exercises are meditations on certain sensory perceptions. The breathing is used as a central element to support the continuity of the meditative process and intensify your experience when using the senses. You can benefit in many ways when practicing these meditative techniques.

These techniques will take you through these four phases:

  1. Focus on your sense-perception;
  2. Focus on the feeling your sense perception is creating;
  3. Calmness of mind through the feelings;
  4. Connection with the present moment during that process.

Final Thoughts

Working this way, you will not only learn how to quiet your mind and stay present but also develop a strong sense of how feelings turn into emotions. This moment, which is the key to learn about feelings and emotions, is mostly overlooked and underestimated, resulting in the experience of emotional imbalance.

Once you get connected to that moment (which always lies in the present moment), you can learn how to move along with any emotion or feeling that is overwhelming your present moment—your life.

After a serious, diligent work, you can reach a state of equanimity where you expand your insight and your inner growth. Once there, you are a master of emotions! Using these techniques, you’ll always be able to quiet your mind and stay in the present moment.

More Tips on How to Quiet Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Haley Phelps via unsplash.com

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Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

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Published on April 9, 2021

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

Mindfulness has become a popular buzzword in the health and wellness industry. However, few people truly understand what it is. My aim here is to teach you what mindfulness is and how it helps your mental wellness. By the end of this article, you will understand the meaning and benefits of mindfulness. Additionally, you will develop the ability to integrate mindfulness into your daily life.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is approximately 2500-years-old with deep roots in the Eastern world as a spiritual, ethical, and philosophical practice. These roots are intimately connected to the Buddhist practice of vipassana meditation.[1]

Mindfulness continues to be practiced as a cultural and spiritual tradition in many parts of the world. For Buddhists, it offers an ethical and moral code of conduct. For many, mindfulness is more than a practice—it is a way of life.[2]

However, mindfulness has evolved in the Western world and has become a non-religious practice for wellbeing. The evolution began around 1979 when Jon-Kabat Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).[3] Since then, mindfulness has emerged in the health and wellness industry and continues to evolve.

It is important to recognize the distinctions between mindfulness as a clinical practice and mindfulness as a cultural practice. The focus of this article is on the clinical model of mindfulness developed in the West.

Many researchers have integrated aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness into clinical psychiatry and psychology. Buddhism has helped to inform many mental health theories and therapies. However, the ethical and moral codes of conduct that drive Buddhist practices are no longer integrated into the mindfulness practices most-often taught in the Western world.[4] Therefore, Western mindfulness is often a non-spiritual practice for mental wellness.

Mindfulness aims to cultivate present moment awareness both within the body and the environment.[5] However, awareness is only the first element. Non-judgmental acceptance of the present moment is essential for true mindfulness to occur. Thoughts and feelings are explored without an emphasis on right, wrong, past, or future.

The only necessary condition for mindfulness to occur is non-judgmental acceptance and awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. It does not need to be complex even though structured programs exist.

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How Mindfulness Helps Your Mental Wellness

Along with MBSR, other models have been developed and adapted for use by clinical counselors, psychologists, and therapists. These include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).[6]

Structured models of mindfulness allow researchers to study its benefits. Research has uncovered an abundance of benefits including mental, physical, cognitive, and spiritual. The following is not a comprehensive list of all its benefits, but it will begin to uncover how mindfulness helps mental wellness.

Benefits on Your Mental Health

Practicing mindfulness can have positive impacts on mental health. It has been positively associated with desirable traits, such as:

  • Autonomy
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Competence
  • Empathy
  • Optimism

Mindfulness helps to improve self-esteem, increase life satisfaction and enhance self-compassion. It is associated with pleasant emotions and mood. Overall, people who practice this appear to be happier and experience more joy in life. Not only does it increase happiness but it may also ward off negativity.

Mindfulness helps individuals to let go of negative thoughts and regulate emotions. For example, it may decrease fear, stress, worry, anger, and anxiety. It also helps to reduce rumination, which is a repetition of negative thoughts in the mind.

MBSR was originally designed to treat chronic pain. It has since evolved to include the treatment of anxiety and depression. Clinical studies have shown that MBSR is linked with:

  • Reduced chronic pain and improved quality of life
  • Decreased risk of relapse in depression
  • Reduced negative thinking in anxiety disorders
  • Prevention of major depressive disorders
  • Reducing substance-use frequency and cravings

However, more research is needed before these clinical studies can be generalized to the public. Nevertheless, there is promising evidence to suggest MBSR may be beneficial for mental health.[7]

Benefits on Your Cognitive Health

Mindfulness has many important benefits for cognitive health as well. In a study of college students, mindfulness increased performance in attention and persistence. Another study found that individuals who practice it have increased cognitive flexibility. A brain scan found increased thickness in areas of the brain related to attention, interception, and sensory processing.[8]

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To explain this another way, practicing mindfulness can improve the ability to shift from one task to the next, increase attention span and increase awareness of bodily sensations and the environment. Therefore, it has the potential to literally change your brain for the better.

Harvard researchers are also interested in studies of the brain and mindfulness. One researcher studied how brain changes are sustained even when individuals are not engaged in mindfulness. Their research suggests that its benefits extend beyond the moments of mindfulness.[9]

Another study found that the benefits of mindfulness training lasted up to five years. In this particular case, individuals participating in mindfulness activities showed increased attention-span. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase problem-solving and decrease mind wandering.[10]

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. However, most practices include these elements:

  • An object to focus awareness on (breath, body, thoughts, sounds)
  • Awareness of the present moment
  • Openness to experience whatever comes up
  • Acceptance that the mind will wander
  • The intention to return awareness to the object of focus whenever the mind wanders

A practice that encompasses these elements is typically called mindfulness meditation. Most mindfulness meditations will be practiced between 5 to 50 minutes, per day.[11]

There is truly no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Most mindfulness meditations are done seated with an object of focus related to the breath, body, thoughts, emotions, or sounds. However, daily activities such as walking or eating can be practiced as a form of mindfulness meditation, as long as the aforementioned elements are in place.

Four Mindfulness Meditations and Their Benefits

Not all forms of mindfulness are created equal. Each practice has unique goals, structure, and benefits. The following four mindfulness meditations are linked with improved mental wellness related to vitality, happiness, and attention.

The results come from a study designed to explore the benefits of these four practices. All of these stem from traditional Buddhist practices.[12]

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1. Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness is a form of meditation that focuses on sending love and compassion to others. It may begin with kindness for the self and extend outward towards close family and friends, communities, nations, and the world. Loving-kindness may even involve sending love and compassion towards enemies.

The study found that eight-weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of closeness to others. However, it did not reduce negative feelings towards enemies. Additionally, one week of loving-kindness mixed with compassion training increased the amount of positive feelings participants experienced.[13]

2. Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is a practice where the focus remains on the breath. Whenever the mind begins to wander, the attention is brought back to the breath.

In many different mindfulness and yoga practices, specific breathing (pranayama) practices are taught. However, for beginners, simple diaphragmatic breathing that focuses on each inhale and exhale is sufficient.

The effects of breathing meditation relate to attention. Breathing meditation is linked to changes in the way information is processed. Buddhist monks who practiced breathing meditation were able to process a greater amount of information than monks who practiced compassion meditation.

3. Body Scan Meditation

A body scan is as simple as it sounds. Attention is brought to each part of the body. Participants can choose to start from the top of the head or the bottom of the feet. It can be helpful to imagine a warmth or a color spreading from one body part to the next as each part begins to relax.

When body scan and breathing are combined, there are many benefits. Interoceptive sensitivity is the mind’s ability to focus on bodily cues. It is strengthened by body scanning. Body scanning also helps with attention and focus.[14]

4. Observing Thoughts Meditation

In observing thoughts meditation, the focus is on the thoughts. This is an opportunity to practice non-judgmental observation. It is also a practice of non-attachment.

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Within the study, participants practiced structured observation of thoughts. First, they brought their attention to their thoughts and labeled them within several categories: past, present, future, self, or others. Then, they practiced observing their thoughts without an emotional reaction.[15]

The benefits of this practice were robust. First, participants showed great improvement in the ability to observe their thoughts without judgment. Second, the practice greatly reduced rumination. As a result, participants had fewer emotional reactions to their thoughts and developed greater self-awareness around their thinking patterns.

In summary, there are many different ways to practice mindfulness meditation. The choice may be determined by the benefits each practice offers. For example, body scanning can increase bodily awareness. Thought-observation can increase self-awareness and decrease rumination. Regardless, every practice may increase positivity, energy, and focus.[16]

Considerations Before You Begin Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is still a relatively new concept in clinical research. Critics worry that its benefits have been overstated. There is also concern that the Western world has changed it into something most Buddhists would not recognize.[17]

Mindfulness is a state of mind that builds self-awareness. As a result, it may force individuals to face difficult emotions, memories, and thoughts. In a study of long-term, intense mindfulness practices, 60% of participants reported at least one negative outcome. Some cases are related to depression, anxiety, and psychosis.[18]

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental wellness. Mindfulness offering promising results but there are also risks involved. Working with a therapist may be a great way to start a mindfulness practice while monitoring for risk.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness is a powerful practice that has deep roots in Buddhism. It is a practice of present-moment awareness, acceptance of the present moment, and non-judgment of thoughts, emotions, or circumstances.

It has many benefits that may increase mental wellness. However, there are also some risks to consider. Overall, you should consider your unique profile before beginning a practice or consider working with a therapist at the start.

More About Practicing Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Simon Migaj via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[2] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[3] Greater Good Magazine: What is Mindfulness?
[4] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[5] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[6] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[7] NCBI: Mindfulness Meditation and Psychopathology
[8] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[9] The Harvard Gazette: When Science Meets Mindfulness
[10] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[11] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[12] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[13] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[14] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[15] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[16] Greater Good Magazine: How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation
[17] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?
[18] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?

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