mental noise

How to silence the mental noise

When we silence the mental noise, we find that our mind becomes calm and peaceful. Our brain begins to function better, and we become more creative, efficient and alert.

Our minds are never at rest. Oftentimes, when we’re not occupied, an uninterrupted stream of thoughts flows through our minds. Sometimes, we deliberately think about things, but often, we are simply unaware of the thoughts in our heads. According to research, an average human being is believed to have over six thousand thoughts a day. Irrespective of whether or not we are aware of our thoughts, they form an incessant chatter in our heads. All this noise, or inner monologue, creates distractions and prevents us from concentrating on the task at hand. Just like a monkey that swings from one tree to another, our mind too jumps from one thought to another, either ruminating over the past or worrying about the future.

When we silence the mental noise, we find that our mind becomes still. It becomes calm and peaceful. Our brain begins to function better, and we become more creative, efficient and alert. We begin to feel as if we are in control. And instead of reacting to stressful life situations with fear and anxiety, we begin to face difficulties with a positive attitude.

But how do we silence the mental chatter? How do we take control of our thoughts? Here are a few ways to get off the mental hamster wheel.

Breathe with awareness

“This silence, this moment, every moment, if it’s genuinely inside you, brings what you need.” – Rumi

The practice of bringing the mind to stillness by anchoring ourselves to the present is called mindfulness. Of course, mastering mindfulness requires effort and practice. One of the simpler ways to become more mindful is by being aware of our breath. Meditation is one practice that allows us to pay attention to our breath. But often, when we sit down to meditate, we might find that random thoughts interfere. Author Stephen Richards offers a solution to this in The Ultimate Cosmic Ordering Meditation: “If you can simply dismiss the thoughts by giving them no value then the breathing will find its own medium and become subtle.”

The more we concentrate and pay attention to our breath, the more we’d be in sync with the present moment. After all, we can neither breathe in the past nor in the future. We can only breathe in the present—here and now. Therefore, focusing on our breath helps us become mindful, and quietens our busy mind.

Reconnect with nature

“The silence of nature is very real. It surrounds you, you can feel it.” – Ted Trueblood

It seems our brains are wired to recharge and rejuvenate only when we are in the midst of nature. Be it by walking barefoot on the earth, swimming in the sea, or listening to the song of the birds at dawn, connecting with nature helps us feel peaceful. It calms our minds and slows down our thoughts. How does this happen? David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah has an explanation. According to Strayer, nature recalibrates our senses. In the Ted Talk Restore your Brain with Nature, the psychologist talks about the invigorating power of nature on our prefrontal cortex, which is the cognitive centre of our brain. He says, the more we spend time in nature, the more our overused frontal lobe revitalises. By overcoming mental fatigue and burnout, our frontal lobe heightens our senses. Hence, we become more mindful and perceptive of everything that surrounds us.

Immerse yourself in work

“Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it” – Gautama Buddha

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to still our minds is to immerse ourselves in work—be it a chore or a passion. Ironic as it might sound, the more we concentrate or indulge in something wholeheartedly, the less our thoughts are likely to be scattered. We in turn become more in sync with the present moment, and we automatically develop mindfulness.

It is, as mystic Osho writes in his article Work as Meditation: “Work and relaxation are not contradictory. In fact, the more you put yourself into work the deeper you can go into relaxation. So, both are important. The harder you work the deeper you can relax. Work is valuable. It will bring humbleness and silence. (…) Love what you do. Be meditative while you are doing it— whatsoever it is!—irrelevant of the fact of what it is.”

Detach from your thoughts

“Only in the stillness of detachment can the soul yield up her secrets.” – Elsa Barker

We are all thinking beings. But not being able to stop thinking is a disease that allows the thoughts to overpower us. Unable to find silence within us, we begin to identify ourselves with this mental chatter. The more we begin to identify ourselves with our likes and dislikes, judgments and interpretations, the stronger our emotions grow and ruin our peace of mind.

So how do we detach ourselves from our thoughts and emotions? By neither paying attention to the voice in our heads nor suppressing them. By constantly reminding ourselves that we are not our body, we are not our mind. Of course, this isn’t easy. But the more we manage to distance ourselves from our thoughts, the more we become a spectator, a mere witnessing presence. And then, eventually, we would discover a sense of calm beyond all the mental noise. As mystic Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says in the video How do you stop the mind’s chatter: “Once there is space between you and the mind, then what the mind is not doing… what the mind is doing is not even an issue.”

Shift your focus

“Compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and a sense of self-discipline are qualities that help us lead our daily lives with a calm mind.” – The 14th Dalai Lama

Often, we find that we are absorbed in our own thoughts that play endlessly in our heads. But by constantly ruminating, we end up amplifying the tiniest of problems. In the end, we lose perspective and create bigger problems for ourselves. In order to calm the mental chatter, one can shift their attention towards others. This has several benefits. One, we’d realise that we’re not alone in our pain. Everyone deals with some problem or the other and chances are, we’d even be inspired by their courage. Two, when we help others, our focus shifts from our gnawing problems to other’s problems. It provides us with a much-required distraction from the thoughts in our heads. Three, by helping others, instead of stewing in negativity, we’d become agents of positivity who bring about a change in the world around us.


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