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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 February 15, 2019

        Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

        Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

        In Personal Development-speak, we are always talking about goals, outcomes, success, desires and dreams. In other words, all the stuff we want to do, achieve and create in our world.

        And while it’s important for us to know what we want to achieve (our goal), it’s also important for us to understand why we want to achieve it; the reason behind the goal or some would say, our real goal.

        Why is goal setting important?

        1. Your needs and desire will be fulfilled.

        Sometimes when we explore our “why”, (why we want to achieve a certain thing) we realize that our “what” (our goal) might not actually deliver us the thing (feeling, emotion, internal state) we’re really seeking.

        For example, the person who has a goal to lose weight in the belief that weight loss will bring them happiness, security, fulfillment, attention, popularity and the partner of their dreams. In this instance, their “what” is weight-loss and their “why” is happiness (etc.) and a partner.

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        Six months later, they have lost the weight (achieved their goal) but as is often the case, they’re not happier, not more secure, not more confident, not more fulfilled and in keeping with their miserable state, they have failed to attract their dream partner.

        After all, who wants to be with someone who’s miserable? They achieved their practical goal but still failed to have their needs met.

        So they set a goal to lose another ten pounds. And then another. And maybe just ten more. With the destructive and erroneous belief that if they can get thin enough, they’ll find their own personal nirvana. And we all know how that story ends.

        2. You’ll find out what truly motivates you

        The important thing in the process of constructing our best life is not necessarily what goals we set (what we think we want) but what motivates us towards those goals (what we really want).

        The sooner we begin to explore, identify and understand what motivates us towards certain achievements, acquisitions or outcomes (that is, we begin moving towards greater consciousness and self awareness), the sooner we will make better decisions for our life, set more intelligent (and dare I say, enlightened) goals and experience more fulfilment and less frustration.

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        We all know people who have achieved what they set out to, only to end up in the same place or worse (emotionally, psychologically, sociologically) because what they were chasing wasn’t really what they were needing.

        What we think we want will rarely provide us with what we actually need.

        3. Your state of mind will be a lot healthier

        We all set specific goals to achieve/acquire certain things (a job, a car, a partner, a better body, a bank balance, a title, a victory) because at some level, most of us believe (consciously or not) that the achievement of those goals will bring us what we really seek; joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

        Of course, setting practical, material and financial goals is an intelligent thing to do considering the world we live in and how that world works.

        But setting goals with an expectation that the achievement of certain things in our external, physical world will automatically create an internal state of peace, contentment, joy and total happiness is an unhealthy and unrealistic mindset to inhabit.

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        What you truly want and need

        Sometimes we need to look beyond the obvious (superficial) goals to discover and secure what we really want.

        Sadly, we live in a collective mindset which teaches that the prettiest and the wealthiest are the most successful.

        Some self-help frauds even teach this message. If you’re rich or pretty, you’re happy. If you’re both, you’re very happy. Pretty isn’t what we really want; it’s what we believe pretty will bring us. Same goes with money.

        When we cut through the hype, the jargon and the self-help mumbo jumbo, we all have the same basic goals, desires and needs:

        Joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

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        Nobody needs a mansion or a sport’s car but we all need love.

        Nobody needs massive pecs, six percent body-fat, a face lift or bigger breasts but we all need connection, acceptance and understanding.

        Nobody needs to be famous but we all need peace, calm, balance and happiness.

        The problem is, we live in a culture which teaches that one equals the other. If only we lived in a culture which taught that real success is far more about what’s happening in our internal environment, than our external one.

        It’s a commonly-held belief that we’re all very different and we all have different goals — whether short term or long term goals. But in many ways we’re not, and we don’t; we all want essentially the same things.

        Now all you have to do is see past the fraud and deception and find the right path.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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