Do you ever feel like the thoughts that pop into your head throughout the day start to control your mind? One of my wise spiritual teacher always says, “The brain can only focus on one thing at a time and the mind creates in the direction of its focus.” So if you are focusing on the negative, all your to-dos, or living in the past or future instead of the present, chances are your brain is not focusing on anything productive and good.
As I have mentioned in other posts, this is something I used to struggle heavily with and still go back and forth of having easy and hard days calming my mind and living in the present.
I know by far I am not alone on this one. For millennia, people have sought methods to quiet their minds. Long before modern technology introduced new distractions into our lives, humans have pursued inner peace. If you’re seeking a method to quiet your mind and achieve inner peace, these four ancient techniques have proven effective even by today’s standards.
1. Practice breathing meditation. Breathing meditation is a simple and effective method for calming your mind. Start by finding a comfortable and quiet place where you can sit and observe your breath. With practice, you’ll be able to meditate longer periods or place your mind on your breath in any surroundings.
2. Develop single-pointed concentration. Train your mind to rest upon your object of meditation whether it’s a candle or a spoken mantra. Note any distracting thoughts but decline to pursue them. Bring your mind back to your chosen object.
3. Learn to visualize. Select images that promote happiness and serenity. Perhaps you may want to picture snow-capped mountains or sheep grazing in a meadow.
4. Focus on positive thoughts. If your meditation is part of a spiritual practice, you can follow the prayers taught in your tradition. Alternatively, you can soothe your mind by repeating any thought or quote that is meaningful for you.
Use the Soothing Qualities of Water
1. Take a bath. Cultures all over the world have long appreciated the calming effects of water. A simple warm bath can soothe your nerves. Rest your head on a bath pillow and add some comforting scents like sandalwood or lavender. Turn the lights down low and play soft music.
2. Surround yourself with the sound of water. Eat your lunch by a park fountain or install a solar device in your own backyard. You can find recordings of waterfalls online or music with aquatic effects that you can listen to anywhere you go.
Get Back to Nature
1. Go for a walk. In some eras, it was common for people to go on long retreats into the wilderness. Even a short break can do wonders to restore your peace of mind. This is my favorite form of quieting my mind, and a good walk outside in a park or nature never fails to help me feel more at peace and focused.
Visit your local state park or take a quiet walk around your neighborhood. If you work indoors all week, use the weekend to explore scenic trails for biking and hiking.
2. Cultivate a garden. Gardening is a great way to slow down and appreciate nature. Devote a section of your backyard to growing flowers and vegetables. If you live in an apartment setting, select plants that will flourish indoors or on a balcony, like some species of palm trees and herbs.
3. Spend time with animals. Spending time with animals is so therapeutic it’s even been proven to help people recover from surgery faster. Take your dog for a walk. Watch your cat at play. Sign up for horseback riding lessons.
Live in the Present Moment
1. Put the past behind you. Dwelling on the past can make it difficult to feel composed. If you’re thinking about past misfortunes, decide if you’d rather devote your energy to more constructive activities.
2. Adopt a positive view towards the future. The future always carries some uncertainty. Focus on creating causes for a better future and patiently accepting whatever outcomes arise.
3. Enjoy the present moment. Give your full attention to what is happening now. Take advantage of the opportunities before you and delight in the good things that surround you. Steer your mind towards wholesome thoughts and actions. Engage fully with the people who share your life.
Many ancient techniques work equally well today for achieving a quiet mind regardless of external circumstances. Visit your local library, bookstore, or even look online to discover more information about the healing powers of meditation.
There are a plethora of resources out there to guide you. With these methods, you can create a welcoming environment for yourself and others and train your mind to enjoy greater peace. Namaste, my friends.