How to Quiet Your Mind: 10 Helpful Strategies to Get You Started

Written by Stephen Anton PhD on June, 1st 2021

Learning how to quiet your mind can have a big impact in your life. When your mind-body is calm and serene, it functions optimally.

Unfortunately, very few of us experience the benefits of a quiet mind in today’s day and age. We are all constantly bombarded with incoming messages, news flashes, social media updates, etc, which serve to keep our mind agitated and distracted.

And when the mind is not distracted by these messages, it tends to constantly “talk” and “make noise” even if no sound occurs. For most people, the mind is constantly chattering and replaying fears and doubt.

Over time, we have become comfortable with this endless chatter and may even feel uncomfortable when we are not ‘talking’ to ourselves.

Do you ever feel bombarded with worries about the future or regrets about the past?

If so, you are not alone!

Why Are Our Minds So Active?

There is good news, however, and that is that you have the power to tame your thoughts and approach life in a more peaceful way. To move in this direction, we first need to understand why we our minds are so active in first place.

Is it the result of past upbringing or the belief that if we actively think about and analyze a situation, we will somehow have more control over it, and thus feel safe and secure?

Perhaps as a child we felt powerless and our only source of comfort and feeling in control was our thoughts. So, we developed an attachment to thinking and subconsciously or even consciously started to believe that our existence depended on thinking and analyzing everything.

In other words, we were our mind, our thoughts, and therefore, we needed to think to be alive. This view is clearly seen in Descartes’s famous statement “I think, therefore I am.”

How to Start Quieting the Mind

An important first step in learning how to quiet the mind is to recognize that the statement “I think, therefore I am” is simply not true, and that our existence does not depend on our thoughts.

Rather, you are the awareness or consciousness from which thoughts arise. In your most natural, and energetically powerful state, you are pure awareness and connected to an energy source far greater than the human mind.

You may have experienced glimpses of this state (awareness without thoughts) during a meditation or a peak experience in nature. This state is also described as flow or what athletes experience when they are in the “zone.”

When you are in this state, there are no thoughts about the future or the past, just full immersion in the present.

Of course, this begs the question of what is the source of our thoughts?

Where Do Thoughts Come From?

In reality, there are likely multiple sources, including our biology, environment, behavior, and the actions or statements of other people. These sources tend to keep our mind actively engaged in thinking and analyzing events, people, etc. This is not necessarily a bad thing but is counterproductive to experiencing a quiet mind.

And then there are thoughts that appear to come out of “No Where.” These thoughts seem to come when there are not competing thoughts occurring in the mind from other sources mentioned above.

This suggests that our minds are connected to a source of intelligence that is beyond our awareness. Paradoxically, when we are in a state of pure awareness, we are most open to receive the thoughts or “inspirations” from this dimension.

In contrast, the thoughts most people have tend to be about what happened in the past, could happen in the future, or a judgement about what is happening in the present. Such thoughts can make it seem as though we are living in a hurricane with fear-based and negative thoughts constantly swirling around in our mind.

So, how do we transition from being in a hurricane of negative thoughts to being in the eye of the hurricane and experiencing a quiet mind?

10 Techniques for Creating a Quiet Mind

There are many techniques that can aid in creating a quiet mind. Below are some of my favorite methods:

1. Meditation

The process of quieting the mind is an experiential one which involves becoming comfortable having “no thoughts” happening at least for a short period of time. The technique of meditation will help take your mind to quieter and quieter places over time.

Of course, the “thought hurricane” will likely intensify when you first start practicing as repressed emotions and thoughts often come up during meditation sessions. The mind will become quieter, however, if meditation is practiced consistently.

There are many ways to meditate and there is no “right” or “wrong” way. The majority of approaches, however, have the following elements in common: 1) Sit in a quiet place, 2) close your eyes, 3) be still, and 4) let go of mental chatter.

2. Mindfulness

The practice of living fully in the present moment during all waking moments is the goal of mindfulness practice. Of course, this is an aspirational goal.

A key to moving closer to this goal is to continuously bring attention into the present moment, whenever you become aware that your attention or thoughts are drifting into the past or future.

3. The Release Technique

This technique involves learning to recognize when your mind is active, out of a desire for wanting approval, wanting control (wanting to change things), wanting safety and security, or wanting to figure things out.

Ultimately the mind quiets when you learn to let go of ‘wanting’ or ‘lacking’ thoughts and feelings – the big three being wanting approval, wanting control, and wanting safety or security. All this thinking only drains energy and takes away attention from the present moment.

4. Learn a New Skill

The practice of learning a new skill requires mental focus and is virtually impossible with too much mental chatter. This process can help train the brain to be in a state of awareness without thought.

5. Do a Repetitive Task

When you do a repetitive task, you provide the mind with the opportunity to focus on one thing at a time, as well as to see where the mind goes when focus is taken away from the activity.

6. Listen to Classical Music

This type of music literally calms your brain. As a plus, the more you focus on it, the less you will dwell on other thoughts. The type of music most likely to help you relax is classical music, but any type of music you enjoy is great.

7. Breathe Deeply

Take slow deep breaths, paying attention to each breath you take. Put your hand on your stomach, feeling how it rises and expands as you draw air in, and fall as you let air out. Taking deep breaths can also relax your muscles and relieve tension.

8. Exercise

In addition to the physical benefits, even a few minutes of exercise can calm your mind. Exercise releases endorphins, substances that make you feel good and can improve your mood and sleep.

9. Help Someone

Doing something nice for others takes the focus off of yourself and thus can help reduce mental chatter. It also helps lower your stress levels and may even boost your immune response.

10. The Mind Quieting Question

A final way to quiet the mind is to ask yourself the question:

“Is what I am doing now aligned with my goals?”

If yes, then one can be at peace, meaning fully present and focused while engaging in the activity, recognizing that thoughts of the past or future are distractions unless they help you get the job done better.

This is because when you are fully engaged in the present, the mind is in its most powerful state.

Final Thoughts on How to Quiet Your Mind

As a final reminder, it is important to recognize that you are not your thoughts but rather the awareness behind thoughts. In reality, most people are going throughout their day judging their experiences as they are happening, rather than fully experiencing them in the present.

The more we quiet our minds the more we are able to truly and directly experience life. Remember, this is a process and perfection is not the goal. In fact, pursuit of “perfection” in this endeavor would be counterproductive and would likely serve to unquiet or disturb the mind.

So, take it one step at a time, take action towards your goals of creating a quieter mind, but detach yourself from needing a particular outcome to occur. This process will allow your mind to transition to its natural calm and quiet state.

More on mind health:

Intermittent Fasting for Brain Health: A Powerful Tool

Anxiety vs Covid-19: The Importance of Stress Management at This Time

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Anton

I’ve had the privilege of studying the fields of obesity, metabolism, and aging for the past 20 years and felt an increasing desire to share what I’ve learned with as many people as possible the past few years.

More About Dr. Anton
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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Dr. Anton

    I’ve had the privilege of studying the fields of obesity, metabolism, and aging for the past 20 years and felt an increasing desire to share what I’ve learned with as many people as possible the past few years.

    More About Dr. Anton
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    RECENT ARTICLES

    Real science. Real advice. Straight to your inbox!

    Get the latest news on topics like intermittent fasting, healthy aging, reducing obesity, and more.