How Do I Quiet My Thoughts?

Question

How do i still my thoughts? I can not quiet my mind at all EVER i cant focous. Death could be before me and i would still have a stupid song in my head.

—leslie, usa

Answer

Dear Leslie,

Forgive my sense of humor, but if all else fails, consider becoming a writer: “Death could be before me…..stupid song in my head!” Good one, dear friend!

Your issue (the “monkey” mind) consumes entire lifetimes and books have been written. I myself have given classes on this subject and have written several blogs. (You might enjoy visiting www.Hrimananda.org search on “monkey”)

Let me however make a few simple suggestions as a starter.

1. Are you using a proven technique of meditation? There are many and I won’t try to say THIS ONE is the best. It’s what works for you. But I know for a fact that having NO technique will NOT work. In the tradition to which I have given my life (that of the kriya yoga taught by Paramhansa Yogananda, author of “Autobiography of a Yogi”), the core technique is that of watching the breath while silently chanting the mantra: H O N G (incoming breath) S A U (outgoing breath, pronounced like “saw”). This is a technique of mindfulness and variations of it exist throughout the world and many traditions for the simple fact that the monkey mind both influences and in turn is influenced by the rate, depth, and quality of our natural breath cycle. The relationship between breath and mind is, Yogananda has written, India’s greatest contribution to the treasury of human knowledge.

2. You have to WANT to be still and calm. Now, given your question one might assume that you DO want to still the mind. Yes, well, of course BUT I am referring to a quiet feeling in the heart that yearns for quietness of mind and openness of heart. This is an intuitive state and needs to be nurtured and experimented with. All too often, you see, meditators sit to meditate based on a sense of duty, more like something I’ve committed myself, and that, yeah sure, I like doing, but well, “gee,” there’s a lot going on in my mind and roiling around emotions in my heart. Secret: the key to stilling the mind lies in quieting the heart’s many emotions, anxieties, concerns, desires, unresolved feelings etc. This can only be done through a kind of prayerful, heartfelt intention. In turn this must be nurtured not merely 10 seconds before sitting but throughout the day. It means sensing the timelessness between the seconds and minutes; listening for the space between a person’s words; the stillness in gazing out a window; the Being underlying the Doing; etc etc etc! You see, what you seek is a state of consciousness that you cannot create logically or by will power or even by a meditation technique; but rather, by tuning the radio dial of your heart to become one “who sees.” In short: a seer.

3. My teacher, and founder of Ananda, Swami Kriyananda, describes this in his landmark book, “Awaken to Superconsciousness,” as “an upward relaxation into superconsciousness!”

Among the many prescribed techniques designed to assist a person are included chanting, visualization, affirmation and prayer. All are useful and one should experiment and draw upon these as needed, like arrows in your quiver that can be used to hit the bullseye of perfect stillness. But no technique is, itself, the target.

4. Stillness leads to superconsciousness. It is that which empties the mind so that into the mind can flow the peace of all knowing and, much more.

I have perhaps said more than needed. As a famous author once wrote after a long letter, “If I had more time, this would have been shorter!”

So, Leslie, keep up your writing and open your heart to see the “truth that shall make you free!”

Joy and blessings to you,

Nayaswami Hriman