How do you silence your mind
Peace and quiet is a precious commodity these days, but sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. How many times have you gone to bed only to relive your day in your head or make a mental to-do list for tomorrow? Or maybe you’ve carved out a few minutes to relax and been hijacked by a barrage of thoughts or worries? Finding calm in a world of chaos can be a tall order.
“Americans suffer from a case of ADD,” says Victor Davich, author 8-Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind, Change Your Life. “With technology, economic pressures, work, and family, it’s impossible to be on top of everything and it’s upsetting our natural balance.”
This overload and overwhelm often lead to anxiety, fear, and depression, and while you can’t check out of life and avoid responsibility, you can approach things in a gentler way.
“Meditation is one of the quickest tools for finding inner peace and quiet,” Davich says. “It’s an Eastern tool for Western results.”
Davich describes meditation as a state of mindfulness. “Being mindful doesn’t mean quieting your mind in the way most people expect,” he says. “The mind isn’t going to stop thinking. A zen master once told me the goal of mindfulness isn’t to suppress thinking, but to surpass it.”
The key is how you react to your thoughts. If you focus on your thinking, your mind is like an electric fan with thoughts blowing everywhere, says Davich. When you focus on your breathing or your body, however, thoughts can come and go like clouds across a sky. “You can look at them, realize they are just thoughts, and let them go,” he says. “You don’t have to have an emotional attachment to them.”
Being mindful means being present, explains Davich. “Once you are present and centered and here, your mind will naturally quiet down.”
Mindfulness isn’t another thing to put on the to-do list; it’s a daily commitment. Davich says an eight-minute meditation can have a profound affect on your wellbeing. An attorney, he says the practice helped him survive the stress of law school and boosted his GPA. He shares three simple steps you can take to quiet your mind.
Take a deep breath and sigh it out. Sit comfortably and relax your body as much as you can. “We have these visions of needing to have a full lotus position,” Davich says. “It’s not necessary.”
Just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise, like a brisk walk, could start to calm your mind. It releases endorphins — chemicals that make you feel good and can help improve your mood, focus, and sleep. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can give you a big dose of them in a short time. After warming up, alternate 20- to 30-second bursts of pushing yourself hard (like doing sprints, squats, or fast weightlifting) with equal amounts of rest.