Secrets to Having a Quiet Mind
Have you noticed you don’t have a quiet mind because you have mind chatter almost all the time? It is considered normal because it seems to happen to practically everyone. This mental noise can be incredibly distracting, create confusion, and make it difficult to focus on anything else.
In fact, it isn’t unusual for people to wake up in the middle of the night with their mind racing from one topic to another. At times this can go on for hours.
If you’re like most people, your mind is constantly chattering. Whether you’re worrying about an upcoming event or ruminating on a past mistake, this mental noise can be overwhelming and even debilitating.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to attain a quiet mind and get some relief from the constant chatter . There is nothing quite like a quiet mind. Once you attain a quiet mind you’ll be amazed at the reduction of stress as you live all day in peace. How do I know? Because I’ve succeeded in having a quiet mind 24/7, and I’ve helped others achieve the same.
That’s right, no uninvited or unintentional thoughts day or night…just endless peace and a quiet mind. I was able to do this by figuring out where the thoughts and voices come from, and then diminishing them until they were permanently eliminated.
9 Ways Silence Benefits Your Mind
1. Decreases your stress and anxiety levels
2. Allows you to process more information and have mental clarity
3. Increases your creativity
4. Serves as a reset button to make necessary changes to move forward
5. Silence provides a biological response regarding the brain’s repair process
6. Enable you to address parts of your thinking you might avoid otherwise
7. Allows you to make more sound decisions
8. Provides an opportunity to notice the small, pleasant things
9. Gives you a better perception of just how meaningless much of the constant noise surrounding you at all times truly is
Ways Mental Chatter Affects Your ability to Focus
1. You struggle to keep your mind situated on the task at hand.
If you’re struggling to focus on a task at hand, it may be due to mind chatter, or what is sometimes called the monkey mind. This is when your thoughts are moving in a nonsensical order, jumping from one point of view to another, making it difficult to concentrate on what you need to be doing.
2. You notice that you’re missing deadlines and becoming forgetful of dates.
Mental chatter’s negative effects on your ability to focus often includes forgetfulness. When your mind is racing with other thoughts, remembering important deadlines and dates often falls by the wayside. For example, you could miss an appointment you had scheduled for weeks because your mental chatter caused you to forget.
3. You struggle to stay “in the moment” during interactions with others.
Mental chatter can pervade your personal life. For example, you may notice your constant flow of mental chatter causes you to “miss” chunks of conversations. You may experience a loved one accusing you of being “distant” or ignoring them when they’re trying to have a conversation with you. None of these shortcomings are on purpose – you’re simply too caught up in your nonstop mental chatter and stories to be able to hold your attention on the interaction.
4. Mind chatter can confuse you. Your mind chatter I like have two or more recording running at the same time, and if they have opposite messages or misinformation that can confuse you and make it difficult to make a decision.
What Can You Do to Silence Your Mind and Focus Better?
Fortunately, there are methods you can use to get mental chatter under control and salvage your ability to focus.
1. Try addressing yourself by your own name. This may seem silly and simple, yet it is an effective tactic to hitting the pause button on mental chatter.
When you realize your mental chatter is taking control, try speaking the following sentence aloud to yourself: “[Name], stop it right now!” It may seem weird to talk to yourself aloud, but verbally commanding yourself to stop the chatter activates your ability to stop by giving your brain a new task. Doing this causes an interruption in the mental chatter stream, giving you an opportunity to refocus.
2. Bring yourself into present moment by being mindful and present with what you are doing. Focusing on your five major senses as a way to quickly silence mental chatter and bring yourself back into the present moment. To have a mindful moment, simply make yourself notice what your five senses are detecting right then. For example, you may say…
⦁ Right here and now, I SEE the pictures hanging on the wall.
⦁ Right here and now, I SMELL the coffee.
⦁ Right here and now, I FEEL the seat cushions on my chair.
⦁ Right here and now, I HEAR birds singing.
⦁ Right here and now, I TASTE the toothpaste I used earlier.
Making yourself run through this mental checklist of what you’re experiencing in the present moment forces your mind to stop its mental chatter pattern so you can engage with your senses. Once you feel more attuned to the “here and now” again, you can re-engage your focus.
Why You Need the Silence of a Quiet Mind
In a world of constant activity with a steady onslaught of attention-grabbing distractions, the idea of a silent mind can seem like a distant and unlikely possibility. Yet, silence can help you through pain, foster your spiritual development, and help you to heal mentally. There are at least six major benefits to a quiet mind.
1. Silence Enhances Your Brain
Some studies indicate a quiet mind is neurogenerative. That means experiencing mental silence can cause new brain cells to develop. Subjects who quieted their mind had new cells emerge in their hippocampus. This is a brain region associated with learning, memory, and emotion.
It appears that the mechanism behind this may be that silence is not all that common in the world and when it occurs the brain tunes in, preparing itself for what might follow.
2. A Quiet Mind May Reduce Blood Pressure.
Study have found that pauses in music may induce health benefits such as reducing blood pressure by creating a relaxation response after the arousal induced by the music. The controlled alteration between arousal and relaxation is proposed to be at the root of the pleasure that music elicits.
3. A Quiet Mind Promotes Reflection, Imagination, and Vision
When you practice silence, your self-awareness increases as the removal of auditory input heightens your other senses. In time, this enables you to look at yourself and the world around you with new eyes.
This creation of space for serious thought and consideration is a valuable tool for navigating our increasingly complicated world. It also serves to slow you down.
Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” In his work as a theoretical physicist, his thought experiments were fundamental to his discoveries. For this to occur, he needed a relaxed and quiet mind.
4. A Quiet Mind Teaches You to Listen & Have Clarity
If you’re talking or your mind I chattering, you’re not listening. Getting in the habit of speaking less and contemplating more will foster the ability to hear others, and have clarity of your own thoughts.
Amidst chaotic moments, finding silence within yourself can reveal previously obscured possibilities. For example, when you’re in an active discussion hold your tongue, pause for a few breaths, and then speak calmly, you will be more able to understand the other person’s viewpoints.
This process is called anticomplementary behavior and refers to doing the opposite, or the unexpected in a situation. In a study for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Strong et al. found that “how a person behaves toward another systematically and profoundly affects how the other behaves toward the person.”
5. A Mind that is Silent Has Little Stress
At the heart of mindfulness practices is the act of quieting the mind and bringing it back to the present moment. Practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, or qigong can make quieting your mind easier.
As your mind quiets you’ll gain new perspectives, increase your patience and tolerance, and expand your creativity and imagination. The list of physical benefits is also extensive. Sitting in silence tells your body that you are in a safe place. If you pair it with deep breathing, you will be activating the parasympathetic nervous system which is the branch of the autonomic nervous system responsible for resting, digesting, and healing. This relaxes you and melts stress, and enables you to have refreshing sleep.
1. Bassett L, Bingley AF, Brearley SG. Silence as an element of care: A meta-ethnographic review of professional caregivers’ experience in clinical and pastoral settings. Palliat Med. 2018 Jan;32(1):185-194. doi: 10.1177/0269216317722444. Epub 2017 Aug 8. PMID: 28786322.
2. Kirste I, Nicola Z, Kronenberg G, Walker TL, Liu RC, Kempermann G. Is silence golden? Effects of auditory stimuli and their absence on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Brain Struct Funct. 2015 Mar;220(2):1221-8. doi: 10.1007/s00429-013-0679-3. Epub 2013 Dec 1. PMID: 24292324; PMCID: PMC4087081.
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4. Saunders, Lesley. (2012). Silences and silence in ‘creativity.’ London Review of Education. 10. 215-225. 10.1080/14748460.2012.691285.
5. Strong SR, Hills HI, Kilmartin CT, De Vries H, Lanier K, Nelson BN, Strickland D, Meyer CW 3rd. The dynamic relations among interpersonal behaviors: a test of complementarity and anticomplementarity. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988 May;54(5):798-810. doi: 10.1037//0022-35126.96.36.1998. PMID: 3379580.
6. Worley SL. The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P T. 2018 Dec;43(12):758-763. PMID: 30559589; PMCID: PMC6281147.
12 Ways to Stop Mental Chatter and Have a Quiet Mind
Listed below are 12 ways to effectively minimize the amount of mental chatter you have to deal with and reduce the noise in your mind. Here, I will elaborate on these points as well as provide additional strategies.
1. Don’t Start Your Day in A Rush
Being rushed and in a hurry, can easily add to the noise in your mind. If you begin the day in this mode, chances are that the rest of your day will follow this trend. Allowing just a small amount of extra time in the mornings to prepare for the day can be very beneficial. Something as simple as waking up a half hour early can make a difference.
2. Get Your Body Moving
It is a lot easier for your mind to move too fast while your body is sedentary. Fortunately, the inverse of this is equally true. Engaging in physical activity in any form is a great way to reduce mental noise. While your body is tasked with movement and coordination, there is less opportunity to dwell on thoughts that are irrelevant to the task at hand.
3. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
In the same way that feeling hurried creates mental chatter, cramming too many things on your to-do list for the day can also prevent you from staying calm and focused. We live in a society that seems to be obsessed with maximizing productivity in whatever way possible. At the same time, the actual amount of time available every day has not and will not change.
By holding yourself accountable for too many objectives in a single 24-hour period, you only set yourself up for failure. Being productive is not an inherently bad goal. However, feeling rushed and sacrificing the quality of what you are producing simply for the sake of getting more done is counterproductive by nature.
4. Meditation And Mindfulness Exercises
Research finds that mindful meditation has numerous benefits on the brain where it actually affects functional and structural changes to those areas that regulate self-awareness, emotion and attention.
Meditation and similar cognitive techniques have long been utilized for a wide variety of purposes relating to the conditioning of the mind. Mindfulness practices are a commonly used form of meditation that involves centering your entire awareness solely on the present moment. This usually involves focusing on bodily rhythms such as breath and heart rate or sitting quietly while taking an inventory of all the available sensations and stimuli nearby. Regardless of the exact method, mindfulness exercises are a fantastic way to reduce mental chatter.
5. Use Sound To Your Advantage
Using a neutral sound such as white noise, nature sounds, or soft relaxing music can be a useful way to prevent mental chatter.
6. Learn To Stop Resisting Thoughts
In an ironic twist, sometimes the more resistance we exert trying to silence repetitive and interruptive thoughts, the stronger they become. If your current strategy for dealing with mental chatter is using willpower, you are likely to find that putting up this fight may actually be counterproductive. What doe work is surrendering the need to think. Stating that to yourself can relax your mind from wanting to engage or hold onto thoughts.
7. Put It On Paper
Transferring your excess thoughts and mental noise onto an external medium can literally feel as if you are offloading the information from your mind. In much the same way that an external hard drive can free up storage space on your electronic device, writing things down on a consistent basis can allow much more mental clarity. When you have subjects and tasks on paper it frees your mind from continually fixating on the topics.
8. Consider Watching Fish Do Their Thing
Yes, you read this right. Research has actually shown that aquariums exert a calming effect on the human brain. Furthermore, gazing at fish and other aquatic animals in a tank has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure. This is not to say that you need to turn your space into an aquarium, but still an interesting piece of information. If you don’t want to have an aquarium you can find videos online.
9. Body Scanning Exercises
Similar to mindful meditation, body-scanning exercises involve focusing on one area of the body at a time and thinking about relaxing this area fully. The same practice is then repeated on the next area until it has been completed throughout. Not only can this promote rest and relaxation, the mental intention of focusing on small goals can take some of the fuel being used on mental chatter. My Deep Relaxation program guides you through this process.
10. Spend Time With A Pet
This one should come as no surprise. Pets are a well-known source of joy, affection, and great at lifting your mood. All of these mental benefits provided by our furry friends can effectively provide a reprieve from an overly loud mind. Some find the purring of a cat to be particularly soothing.
11. Distanced Self-Talk
Distanced self-talk is a concept extensively studied by Ethan Kross, psychologist, professor at the University of Michigan who studies emotions and self-control and author of Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It.
“Converging evidence indicates that distanced self-talk (i.e., using one’s own name and other non-first person pronouns to refer to the self) promotes self-control and wise reasoning.” (Distanced self-talk changes how people conceptualize the self, Gainsbourg and Kross, http://selfcontrol.psych.lsa.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Gainsburg-Kross-2020-Distanced-self-talk-changes-how-people-conceptualize-the-self.pdf)
Distanced self-talk is that which separates you from the situation or task you’re navigating yourself through. When you engage in distanced self-talk, you use second or third person pronouns to put some division between yourself and what’s happening.
Distanced self-talk can help you control mental chatter. Think about the times you help a friend resolve a problem, you are likely calm, supportive and reasonable. This is in part the concept behind distanced self-talk. When you remove “I” from your own problems within your own self-talk, it reduces the amount of mental chatter you experience.
Original self-talk thought: “I have way too much to do tomorrow; I’m not going to make it.”
The same self-talk thought using distanced self-talk: “Jack has so much to do tomorrow. What can he do to get it all done?”
A stressful situation can cause you to panic and fret, leading to an increase in mental chatter. By approaching your issue from an outsider’s perspective, you decrease the amount of panic and fret.
12. Use Mindfulness to Clear Mental Chatter
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by being totally aware of your sensations in the present moment. A mindful person is aware of themselves, their feelings, their surroundings, and everything happening in their environment within the present moment.
Rather than allowing their thoughts to wander to the past or future, a mindful person keeps themselves anchored to the “here and now.” They like to experience life fully, so rather than ruminating on the past or dreaming wildly about the future, they spend most of their time enjoying the sensations of what’s happening to them right here and now.
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness?
1. People who practice mindfulness are very aware of themselves and their surroundings.
Mindful people are comfortable exploring their emotions, learning more about how certain things make them feel, and how the world is working around them. Because they keep themselves anchored in the present moment, they notice a lot of detail about what’s happening to them and around them.
2. People who practice mindfulness are good at regulating their emotions.
Mindful people have a good grasp on themselves and their feelings. As new situations arise, they’re able to quickly assess how they’re being affected and the emotions stirring within them. Because they’re able to assess and address so efficiently, they’re good at regulating their emotions in a healthy way.
3. People who practice mindfulness are less anxious.
Mindful people experience a lot less anxiety than their not-so-mindful counterparts. Because mindfulness serves as a way to stay active and alert in the present moment, mindful folks don’t spend much time worried about the future – they are too busy living life in the present to feel these anxieties.
How You Can be More Mindful
If mindfulness is a new practice for you, learning how to be more present and active in your current moment can be quite a challenge. It’s best to start slow as you begin to actively engage with the present. In the beginning, you may feel your mind wandering away into old patterns of past-focused or future-focused thinking. Learning how to be mindful takes time and practice to master.
To get started with some basic mindfulness practice, consider the following exercise to bring yourself into the present moment.
When you feel yourself beginning to fall into mental chatter, bring yourself back into the present in a mindful way by focusing on your five major senses: Seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and feeling.
To engage in this exercise, simply stop what you’re doing and acknowledge what each of your five senses are feeling and detecting in that present moment.
For example, consider these ways to practice being mindful:
⦁ Stop to have a mindful moment by checking in with your five senses.
⦁ SEE a flower garden.
⦁ SEE red flowers and some bees.
⦁ FEEL your soft robe.
⦁ FEEL the warmth of your teacup as you hold it.
⦁ TASTE the flavors of your tea.
⦁ TASTE what you had for breakfast.
⦁ HEAR cars passing on the street.
⦁ HEAR the neighbor’s dog barking.
⦁ SMELL a scented candle as it burns.
⦁ SMELL fresh air after a rain.
This simple activity forces you to focus on everything your senses can detect in the exact present moment.
Running through this quick mental inventory of your senses forces your mind away from its chattering by giving it a specific task. Your senses are what your body and brain use to communicate with your direct environment. The specific task of analyzing each of your five senses in the present moment helps bring your awareness back to the present.
Attaining a Quiet Mind by Focused Breathing
Breathing exercises and meditation are some of the oldest techniques for calming a noisy mind. When your mental chatter feels overwhelming, focus on your breathing. Focusing on your breathing is a simple meditation practice you can use anywhere, anytime. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try the following simple routine to regain your control and focus over your breathing.
1. Find private spot.
2. If you can, turn down the lights.
3. Find a comfortable spot to sit down.
4. Practice taking deep breaths through your nose. Count to five slowly as you breathe in.
5. When you reach five, breathe out through your mouth for another five count.
6. Repeat steps 4-5 until you feel calmer This will usually happen in a few minutes.
7. You may also repeat a mantra, such as “I am calm and peaceful.” Using a mantra can help reinforce the meaning and intent behind your breathing exercises.
Nagging mental chatter is the result of a chain of events. Typically, you engage in a certain behavior because something triggered you. Determine what the root cause of your nagging mental chatter is and address it head-on. Sometimes this is easier said than done – it may take time and lots of self-reflection to get a good grasp on what causes you to engage in future-focused nagging mental chatter.
Is The Past Haunting You?
One of the most common causes of mental chatter is replaying something from your past. If something happened in your past that bothers you, embarrasses you, caused you trauma, or shamed you, it’s common to find yourself thinking about it incessantly.
When you’re facing a difficult situation from your past, the nagging mental chatter can at times be nonstop. For example, you may obsess over a mistake you made, what you think people are thinking about you, things you could’ve done differently, or the pain you endured. Whatever you’re feeling or experiencing based on the past, allowing mental chatter about it to continue makes it feel like your past is constantly haunting you.
What are the dangers of not letting go of your past?
Allowing the past to continue haunting you can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. For example, people who can’t let go of their past may find themselves…
⦁ Constantly reliving the pain and trauma they endured long ago
⦁ Unable to move forward in life or progress as a person
⦁ Struggling to maintain happy and healthy relationships in the present
⦁ Unable to focus on the present reality
In short, allowing your past to continue haunting you can stop your life from progressing in a healthy, normal way. Think of those old “ghosts” from your past holding you back – instead of getting a chance to learn from what happened and move forward, you’re allowing yourself to stay caught in nagging mental chatter about long-over events.
If you struggle to get your past to stop haunting you, what can you do to move forward and stop the nagging mental chatter?
Silencing mental chatter is rarely easy. When those internal thoughts begin to blossom and grow, you’ll likely find yourself stuck in a whirlwind of “could haves” and “should haves” as you constantly reflect on what happened.
However, there are some strategies you can implement to make the process feel a little easier. To get started, consider the following methods:
1. Accept that closure isn’t always going to happen.
When something terrible happens, people naturally crave closure – they want to experience an official, finalistic “end” to whatever the situation was. Unfortunately, not all situations in life will end with this satisfying type of completion. Learning to declare closure can terminate you being enslaved by your past. This is arguably the most important activity you can spend time doing. I have several audio programs with many techniques that will assist you in succeeding with this. Your find them here: Release Your Past.
2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and challenge yourself to handle your difficult emotions. There are proven techniques you’ll need to apply regularly in order to succeed with this.
A big reason why the past haunts you is because you did not process your conclusions and emotions during the original event. Emotions can be challenging – it’s often quite tempting to push them aside or ignore them rather than actually feeling them and handling them as they’re happening.
However, not handling those emotions causes them to become worse over time. Instead of continuing to ignore them, let yourself explore them. While it may be uncomfortable or painful, doing so will let you begin the process of acknowledging, accepting, and then healing from them.
3. Embrace forgiveness.
Another common reason for allowing the past to haunt you is old grudges or hurt caused by others. When you hold on to these hard feelings, you make it impossible to move on in life. Instead of harboring those hard feelings toward others, allow yourself to forgive them.
If possible, you can have a forgiveness conversation with the person who hurt you, but it isn’t necessary. In these scenarios, the forgiveness isn’t to benefit them – it’s to benefit you so you can acknowledge your pain and release its hold over your life. My Deep Forgiveness program will guide you through this process.
Passive Streaming Of Thoughts
A commonly occurring reason that certain thoughts seem to repeat themselves in your mind, no matter how much effort you put into silencing them, is that you tend to label them as good or bad. Naturally, the thoughts you perceive as bad are usually the ones you dwell on the most. This creates an excessive amount of mental noise.
One form of meditation to combat this tendency is to sit in a calm, quiet location and do nothing but let your thoughts come and go as they please. As the thoughts roll in, try to avoid labeling them with any good or bad connotation. Imagine your thoughts flowing in and out of your mind without any resistance whatsoever, and imagine them dissolving in pure light.
Visual imagery is a form of meditation that involves recreating a pleasant, idealistic scene in your mind. This image can be an actual memory of an experience you have had or a completely fabricated one that just seems relaxing to you. Once you have the ideal image or experience in mind, allow yourself to believe you are actually there in every sense. Focus on what you see with your eyes, any pleasant smells that might be rolling by sensations felt on your skin. By recreating specific details of an experience, it is possible to benefit from the positive vibes associated with being there in person.
I have more suggestions and techniques for you to quiet your mind in my article: 5 Proven Ways to Quiet Your Mind. https://www.jonathanparker.org/meditation/5-proven-ways-to-quiet-your-mind/