You will greatly reduce your level of mental restlessness simply by becoming more centered in the here and now. One of the most effective ways to do this is through increasingly sensitive listening.

First, listen to your outer environment. Try to see how many different sounds you can hear. Start with those that are loudest — sounds in your house or the sounds of traffic. Then try to listen for more subtle sounds such as distant bird songs or wind in the trees. Then become aware of very soft sounds — the sound of your breath or even your heartbeat.

Now start “listening” to your thoughts. Just observe your stream of consciousness. Be careful to maintain the perspective of an observer or listener. Don’t get drawn into a thought so completely that you become lost in it. If this happens (and it almost surely will) just bring your attention back to a state of mindfulness. You will probably be quite surprised to see how many thoughts vie for your attention.

Now try to get behind your thoughts and observe your feelings. As you become more still you will see that thoughts often rise out of an underlying emotion: anxiety or concern, hope or fear, love and compassion. Observe these underlying feelings but don’t identify with them. Simply become increasingly aware of the play of your consciousness.

Keep your mind focused completely on the present. Let go of the past — of memories, of regrets, of the tendency to think “If only I could change the experience.” Simply accept what has happened since it can’t be changed anyway.

Let go also of thoughts of the future. Don’t allow your mind to think about plans or projects. Observe your underlying feelings about the future. Let go of expectations and the anxiety that inevitably accompanies them. Be completely in the “here and now.”

As you get more and more interiorized you will become aware of certain fundamental traits of your consciousness. You will feel the deep peace that accompanies inner silence. You will feel an expansive love that radiates out to the whole world. And you will discover a sense of joy that is not dependent on any circumstances: It simply is. Meditate on these qualities. Feel them expanding until they fill your consciousness, driving away any tendency of the mind to be restless. Become absorbed in the inner silence!

Ananda Course in Meditation

A 10-week online course with in-depth instruction in scientific meditation techniques that bring more peace, deeper relaxation, and focused concentration to every area of your life.

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