4 Ways to Quiet the Mind

by Tammy Strobel on March 9, 2010

Washington Park

Quieting the mind to focus on the important can be difficult. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we “should be” doing, rather than focusing on what brings us joy and happiness. For example, some of the “should statements” that have popped into my mind lately include:

  • I should get a “real job.”
  • I should do the taxes.
  • I should do the laundry.
  • I should be writing.

And the list goes on and on.

The “should” statements are noisy and annoying. So I’ve incorporated the following tips into my life. The actions have helped me quiet my noisy mind. I hope you find them useful.

1. Be present and enjoy the moment.

Enjoy the little things and don’t worry about “I should” statements. For instance, I set an “unrealistic” goal of making at least $25,000 this year from writing, web design and a few side projects. I know it’s possible and I also know it’s impossible to control the future.

Instead of trying to predict the future, be a rock star for at least 5 minutes a day and focus on the moment. Rather than trying to create the perfect future, you can create art that matters. A piece of art that can change a person’s life for the better.

2. Practice walking meditation.

Walking is a form of active meditation. It’s a beautiful way to calm the mind, be present and mindful of your experiences while you walk. Look at the trees, flowers, and people you pass. More importantly, don’t forget to breathe.

3. Unplug from the internet.

You know what to do. Turn the internet off and focus on your thoughts. When the “should” statements get too overwhelming, write down all of the thoughts that pop into your mind. Getting the “should” statements onto paper will help clear your mind and move forward.

4. Do yoga.

A yoga teacher told me that “Yoga reveals what was once hidden. When life gets hard, we run away. And that’s where yoga comes in handy. It forces you to examine what you’re running from.”

Yoga is powerful. It’s one way you can take care of your body, that encompass both the physical and emotional. If you aren’t practicing yoga, I’d encourage you to start. Even if you only have 10 to 15 minutes a day, it will make you feel better.

Also, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to practice Yoga. I highly recommend reading Minimalist Yoga.

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1 Chris O'Byrne March 9, 2010

Having practiced zen meditation for a very long-time, I found this post to be simple and true and beautiful. This past week I thought about getting more into the social media scene online, but found I just couldn’t do it. It has it’s place, but it is dangerous at the same time. There is a temptation to start focusing on the people you want to impress or notice you. That takes the focus away from simply being your best and doing your best. I just want to be awesome at what I do and then very mindfully let people know about it. I can’t be my best if I’m always online and if I ignore my spirit. I unplug every day and let myself just be.

2 Tammy March 9, 2010

@Chris and Stephane – Ahhh thank you for the kind words. You made my day. :)

3 Stephane March 9, 2010

Thank you for sharing simple ways to slow down and enjoying the present moment. It’s so powerful and so simple to do, if we just give it a chance. It’s fantastic to meet people like you who share the gift of simple living.

Stephane

4 Lisa March 9, 2010

Thank you for this post. Quieting my mind is exactly what I “should” do today! :-)

5 Liz March 9, 2010

You just reminded me I need to do my taxes lol.
Great post! I need to get back into yoga ASAP.

6 Tammy March 9, 2010

@Liz – LOL! You aren’t alone there. I really need to do my taxes too. I keep procrastinating. I guess I should follow my own advice. :)

7 Logan March 9, 2010

Congrats on being mentioned on Zen habits today! Your new book is a fantastic resource that even the zen master Leo is using. :) http://zenhabits.net/2010/03/simplicity-ebooks/

8 Mara March 9, 2010

i have practiced zazen for, um, wow, it’s been 33 years now, since senior year of college. it quiets the mind. re the “coulds” and “shoulds”: when things become habit, they get done without much grief and effort. if they are not getting done without a lot of pushing, then examine why. find the conflict. resolve the conflict. to come full circle, quieting the mind is a way to reveal the conflict and its resolution. oh heavens i am becoming a gasbag. time to walk it off.

9 Tammy March 10, 2010

@Mara – thanks for leaving a comment. I’ll have to read more about zazen. :) It sounds really interesting and healing.

10 Karo March 9, 2010

Thank you for some good advice. I’ve been having some doubts about whether I can accomplish the things I want, and have taken some time to unplug from the world and some responsibilities. Today I went for my first hike this year and learned how to make hummus, and felt a lot of the pressure go away. Fully enjoying simple activities and giving myself permission to step back helped a lot. Hope you know everyone who reads you is rooting for you to get everything you’re working for!

11 Tammy March 10, 2010

Thank you Karo! I’m super excited that you went on a hike today! Very very awesome. And thanks for the kind words. I think it will be a good year. :)

12 Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell March 10, 2010

Now, if I could only quiet my mind in the middle of the night!

13 Black Zen Meditation October 8, 2010

I really like the simple way you explained how to be present in the now. Very helpful.

14 Ng Swee Seng Sunny September 9, 2011

You said :”Do yoga” will enable us to see why we run away from difficult problem,

I wonder how the Yoga works to enable us to detect why we runaway from difficulties.

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