Your mind is a gift, a remarkable work of nature. But like a best friend or a spouse, it can get pretty pesky. Especially when it won’t stop thinking negative thoughts.
Do you regularly feel at ease and at peace? Are you continuously overflowing with Joy and Bliss daily, such that you seem free of problems and emotional pain?
If not, you are amongst the vast majority of us striving for a better life, yearning for a more peaceful and joyful existence. Yet, it seems like an impossible challenge, where we end up mentally punishing ourselves for failing, concluding that “I’m just not made to live in peace.”
We’ve become so easily distracted by the hurrying demands of modern life, that we’ve temporarily lost touch with our natural state of being. But there is a way if we seek it.
2 Big Reasons Why It’s Hard to Find Peace and Joy
If you observe our problems, you will notice that most problems are rooted in the mind.
The basic premise is the same: some external event happens, we choose to see only one side of the story, and then interpret the situation such that it causes some form of mental conflict, resulting in some form of emotional suffering.
1. Too much mind clutter
While it is easy to simply say, “drop your problems,” you and I both know that it is not that simple. We all have had years and years of conditioning in attracting problems and conflicts. So much so, that the simple concept of ’stop thinking about problems’ will not be so effective on us. We need tools that strike at the problem’s root.
Close your eyes for about a minute (or 5 minutes), and during this minute, send out the intention that you want silence and stillness, and you do not want to be pulled away from this silence by thoughts. (Pause your reading and do this.)
Okay, so what happened? You probably noticed that the moment you become silent, thoughts started popping up – random and unrelated thoughts. These thoughts become a form of distraction, pulling us away from our inner silence.
This was only an experiment where we consciously observed our mind and tried to become still, but could not. Imagine the state of our inner space, while we are going about our day, unaware of the polluting in-coming thoughts.
As a result, our inner space becomes cluttered with useless information, with thoughts that are not conducive to our wellbeing, with garbage.
When our inner space is cluttered, our inner clarity and in-born wisdom become distant and foggy. Essentially, we lose touch with that part of our inner selves that is sacred, and wise, and peaceful, and eternal.
2. Social Media and Life’s Distraction
The distractions that we’ve declared as urgent and important, such as watching TV, engaging with social media, checking email, all pull at us. They all pull at our attention, distracting us away from the things that are truly important to us; things that will bring lasting happiness and fulfillment to our lives and the lives of others we have yet to come to know.
Whether we recognize it or not, the information that we expose ourselves to fills our inner space on some level and affects our emotions and desires.
And if we are not careful, we can easily rush through life, while spending our precious time on this planet focused on that which does not matter – and then wonder where did my life go? Why do I feel unsettled and easily irritated? Why do I feel unfulfilled and incomplete? And then we die wondering.
If you are here, breathing and reading this right now, then you have been blessed with this day, to wake up! Wake up and take control of your destiny, starting with what you focus on and allow into your life (regardless of your age).
Simple Guide to a Deep Inner Cleanse
To find inner peace, we must also find inner silence. Silence is often underrated and almost impossible to find in this day and age. There are many ways to go about this, either through meditation, visualization, or other means. This 4-step guide by Tina Su is a very good way to cleanse your mind and think more positively.
One way to clean out the clutter in our inner space is by guarding the garden of our mind. Being conscious of what we allow inside, starting with our own words, thoughts, and attention.
We may not be aware of this, but we spend so much energy on gossiping, bad-mouthing other people, judging other people, finding faults in others, and consumed in negative thoughts like jealousy, guilt or fear, and making excuses to cover up how we actually feel.
However, if we truly observe ourselves, our thoughts and our words, we will notice that at some point every day, however subtly or unconsciously, we are doing several of these things.
Sometimes, the “violation” is subtle, like passing a negative judgment on a waiter at a restaurant, or becoming frustrated with a telephone customer service rep and wanting to call him a bad name, or making a little lie of an excuse instead of saying no.
It’s not that by having these thoughts or saying these words, we become bad people. It’s just that these things become useless junk that clutters our inner space and does not contribute to our inner wellbeing.
I had learned the following simple but incredibly effective technique from Swami Nithya Bhaktananda, spiritual counselor and direct disciple of Paramahamsa Nithyananda (Swamiji).
Follow these four rules to inner cleanse:
- Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
- Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone.
- Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside.
- Don’t say unless it is true, useful or kind.
The 4 Rules to Quiet the Mind – Explained
1. Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Part A: Say What You Mean
Have you found yourself making up excuses to avoid fully dealing with a potentially uncomfortable situation?
For example, your friend asks you to some social event. You don’t really want to go, but make up an excuse that “I can’t make it” or “I’m busy,“ probably so you can quietly avoid something or someone or some activity.
Another example, someone asks you for a favor that you do not wish to comply to, but you feel guilty for rejecting him, so you either avoid that person (i.e., Ignoring emails or phone calls) or create an excuse that isn’t really true (i.e., I am out of town.)
It is not that you cannot do something, as your excuse suggests. The truth is that you have chosen not to do something, but the act of creating an excuse or avoiding it initiates a stir in your inner space, and it takes energy to maintain. Instead of stillness and peace, you are now holding onto and thinking about this little lingering “lie.”
When you are about to say anything, make a conscious decision to say the absolute truth, or what you actually mean.
The absolute truth doesn’t have to be harsh or hurtful; you can do so compassionately and authentically, but firmly. When you own what you say, no one can reject it, even if they don’t like what they hear; because you are telling the truth and you mean it.
Part B: Mean What You Say
Sometimes we say things in passing out of obligation or habit that we don’t mean or intend on following through with.
For example, we say, “I love you” to our parents or significant other when we hang up the phone, not because we mean it, but out of habit. The words come so automatically now that they start to lose their true meaning.
Or we say, “I’ll call you soon,“ “let’s chat soon,“ or “I’ll call you tomorrow.“ Maybe we offer to help, as parting words to a friend, and don’t intend on keeping that statement, but say it because it was easy and made the other person feel good.
We may think that these casual comments are harmless, but we know deep down that they are not true. They become little lies that we internalize, and over time they will develop into a guilty conscience that distracts you away from this moment.
Make a conscious commitment to yourself to mean everything that you say, and not to make empty promises that you cannot, will not, do not intend to fulfill.
2. Don’t Say to Anyone Unless You Can Say to Everyone
Whether we admit to this or not, most of us love some form of gossiping (myself included). We are also quick to notice the fault in others, and then talk about them with our trusted allies. Or we find out about someone’s misfortune and immediately we want to tell somebody.
I’m sure you can interject and include many examples from your life. But for the sake of conversation, here’s an example: Jenny, at work, had an emotional fit and yelled at a co-worker today. When we got home, we immediately told our spouse about the drama.
Another example: Pat was fired from his job. Once we heard about it, we called or text-messaged our best friend Jane to tell her about it. Or even exchange jokes about Pat, because we don’t like him.
In both examples, we cannot repeat the same things to everyone, especially Jenny or Pat. If we really observed our inner space during and after we said these things, we wouldn’t feel very good.
When we consciously observe such a conversation, we learn that we have accomplished nothing that feeds our soul. All we did was spread drama and created negative energy and inner conflict that polluted our inner space.
Commit not to say something to one person, unless you can announce it to the world. Commit to stop the spreading of drama and bad energy.
3. Don’t Say Inside What You Cannot Say Outside
Most of us are extremely critical of ourselves. Because we would never tell the world what we say to ourselves, in the privacy of our mind, we believe that we are the only ones affected by negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and anxiety.
When something doesn’t go perfectly, we are first to blame ourselves. We criticize what we did wrong, what we didn’t do perfect enough, what we missed.
We all have inner chattering. Problems arise when we start to believe in our inner chattering and false beliefs about ourselves form. These false beliefs become detrimental to our spirits and future wellbeing unless we do something to unlearn these beliefs.
When you hear the voice in your head say “I’m stupid” or “I’m not good enough” or “I am a failure” or other related self-defeating thoughts, recognize that it is not you. You could verbally say, “That’s not me! That’s not true!” and even declare the following to this thought,
“From today forward, I choose to let you go, for you are no longer serving me. I am exposing you, for you are not real! From today onward, I am free from you.”
The basic premise of the third rule to inner cleanse is that, whatever thought you are not able to say out loud to people (anyone), don’t even bother entertaining inside your head. Keep your inner space clean.
4. Don’t Say Unless it is True, Useful or Kind
Some people have so much inner chatter that it spills out of them in the form of useless speech.
Observe the people who talk on buses, or love to chitchat at work by the water fountain. If you observe and count the things they say that are useful or truly interesting, it will be a low number.
Not only is this distracting for those around this person, but it also takes an enormous amount of energy for this person to keep talking. Recall the last time you talked for a long time about something random, and how drained you felt afterward. Plus, the more useless things we say, the more useless things we feed back into our head.
If you feel that I’ve described you, don’t feel discouraged. I’ve been there too and can contest that it is possible to quiet down.
Some people practice sabbatical days where they don’t speak at all, or read, or use the computer. And at the end of such a day, they feel a tremendous sense of peace, space and energy bubbling inside them.
Be conscious of what you say and only say it if any of the following is true:
- Is what I’m saying …
- True to me? An authentic statement from my heart?
- Useful or helpful to someone or some situation?
- Kind or compassionate? Such as a compliment, or an offer of help?
Parting Words: On Quieting The Mind
This post was born out of 4 simple sentences someone gave me a few months ago. If you give this simple 4-line guidance a try for 21 days, you will notice a beautiful inner transformation; from noise to stillness, from chaos to clarity.
It may seem difficult at first but do it consistently and consciously for 3 days. It becomes much easier after that. Extend it to 7 days, and then to 21 days. Please do not kick yourself for slipping on the rules; it happens, let it go.
After some time, observe how your outer world changes, as your inner world transforms. Please come back and share with us.
One more thing: Let your heart guide you. Trust it, and listen to it.