Six Practices to Help Quiet the Mind

Detail of a hosta leafFor the past several months, feeling a need to rest deeply, I’ve been turning inward.

I’ve found comfort in silence, slow living, and in practicing stillness of the mind to help tame some of the gremlins that seem to have settled in for a longer haul than expected.

There are many paths to stillness of the mind and with every practice I learn more about what works for me and what doesn’t.

Should you feel a need to slow down and create quiet in your heart and mind, one of the following practices may be a good place to start, even if only for a few minutes a day. They’ve served me well, I offer them here in case they may serve you too.

Sitting in silence

Resist the urge to reach for your phone, your tablet or something to read. Sip tea, water or even your morning coffee; in the beginning it may help to have something to do with your hands. Watch the world go by and see what comes, try to keep your thoughts fluid.

Meditation

Meditation is more specific and focused than sitting in silence. There may be a mantra or a focus on the breath, there’s usually an optimal posture and there isn’t any coffee involved. This is not one of my current practices. There are many resources on the different types of meditation out there, perhaps this is one we will explore simultaneously.

Journaling

Four days a week I write morning pages à la Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way: three longhand pages with no censoring, a simple exhale of thoughts onto the page. It’s amazing the stuff that comes out for processing and how it can lessen the burden on the mind. You might also want to try journaling whenever you feel a need to articulate thoughts in private, or simply get them out of your head. Don’t limit yourself to a morning practice if that doesn’t work for you.

Spending time in nature

The woods are my happy place, flowers bring me joy, water heals. That, and it’s hard to hear the gremlins when I’m geeking out over a potential new bird sighting. Find your happy place in nature and spend some time there.

Creative expression

When I paint, I rarely think of anything else. It’s the same when I pull out my camera for a photo romp in my back yard. You might prefer sewing, cooking or writing poetry. Find your creative outlet and immerse yourself.

Movement

My current movement of choice is walking, whether it’s a power walk or a meandering stroll. I may choose to focus on a mantra while I’m at it or open my senses and take in the world around me, both have their benefits. Yoga is certainly a choice movement to still the mind and I’ve been told that running and cycling do it too. Experiment to discover what feels right for you.

What paths or practices do you use to still the mind? Which ones would you like to explore?

Could you try one practice this coming week? When?

2 thoughts on “Six Practices to Help Quiet the Mind

  1. Lovely. I spent a week “in silence” at a retreat once — the natural response to silence is to go inside. I found that here is much that doesn’t really need to be said. Thanks for the reminder. All the best, E.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! I’ve yet to try a silent retreat, but I know someone who does it at least once a year and she finds it very restorative. I am fortunate to live in a household where silence and tranquility are normal fare, it’s up to me to see how I want to make use of it.

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