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A Yogic Practice to Quiet the Mind

A Yogic Practice to Quiet the Mind


    The human mind is always talking, especially in the conscious state, when you are awake. The average human being breathes around 21,600 times in twenty-four hours. And in those twenty four hours, an average person goes through sixty thousand thoughts. Thoughts reveal the human mind’s talkative nature, developed over millions of years of evolution.

    Meditation is the art, the science, of quieting your mind. However, a great number of meditators will quit meditation at the early stages — before they can even gain any tangible benefits from meditation. There are certain practices that can help a meditator develop their meditation skills. Such practices that help them not only meditate flawlessly, but also experience greater peace and joy in life.

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    One such practice is called mauna. It means “to observe silence”. It is in silence alone that one is able to examine the drift of one’s thoughts. It is easier to realize the talkative nature of mind while observing silence. Quietude of the speech is merely one type of silence; the ultimate goal is quieting the mind.  The inexplicable bliss one experiences is beyond all verbiage. In the beginning stages, you can compare observing silence to fasting, a fast from speaking.

    So, let me share with you the practice of observing silence. Start with small periods first. The shortest being at least one straight stretch of twenty four hours. I know given your commitments, that it may be hard to be silent for twenty-four hours but trust me — the results will make you want to do it more often. If you are merely observing silence of the speech by refraining from speaking, you are only fifty percent there. The practice involves observing complete silence; that means not holding any type of conversation. Please see the chart below: 

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      For example, let’s say that one Saturday night you decide to observe silence for twenty-four hours. You vow to start your practice on Sunday morning and end it on Monday morning. During that time, if you make any verbal comments, the impact is red and huge. Basically that is instant failure; you need to restart the practice. Avoid interactions of all types, and refrain from watching television. In the initial stages, you can read a newspaper or a book — even that brings down the quality of your silence. However, as you progress you will need to give up reading during periods of silence as well.

      Ideally, you should just be in a room in your own company. Observing silence does not mean that you can just sleep for sixteen out of twenty-four hours. You will merely be wasting your time in that case. Remember, we are not observing sleep but silence. The more mindful and alert you are, the better your practice. When in complete silence, you start to gain awareness of the talkative nature of your mind. The restless nature of the mind is best revealed and tamed in a state of quiescence.

      Observing silence has a negative impact on your ability to meditate. But that’s only in the initial stage. That is because your mind is not trained to be quiet. You are likely to experience a certain restlessness as well. You need not be alarmed; it is only natural. With persistence and patience, a quietude starts to dawn. And that is going to get you ready for good meditation. Observing silence is comparable to preparing a fertile ground to sow the seeds of meditation.

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      (I wrote on the types of conversations human mind is always holding some time ago; you may want to read up on that here.)

      The practice of observing silence is absolutely critical for the seeker desiring to experience a state of “superconsciousness”. Just like when you are enjoying yourself listening to your iPod, the external noise seems to subside automatically. The inner music of the soul renders all external sounds immaterial. You no longer feel bothered by who is saying what about you. You no longer feel the urge to join the rat race.

      Instead, you get time to stop, to pause, to think, to contemplate…and better lead your life.

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      (Photo credit: Mindful Practice at Sunset via Shutterstock)

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        Last Updated on March 13, 2019

        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

        Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

        You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

        Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

        1. Work on the small tasks.

        When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

        Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

        2. Take a break from your work desk.

        Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

        Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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        3. Upgrade yourself

        Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

        The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

        4. Talk to a friend.

        Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

        Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

        5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

        If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

        Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

        Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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        6. Paint a vision to work towards.

        If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

        Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

        Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

        7. Read a book (or blog).

        The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

        Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

        Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

        8. Have a quick nap.

        If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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        9. Remember why you are doing this.

        Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

        What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

        10. Find some competition.

        Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

        Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

        11. Go exercise.

        Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

        Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

        As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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        Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

        12. Take a good break.

        Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

        Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

        Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

        Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

        More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

        Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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