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The Art of Silencing the Mind

June 23, 2013 4 Comments


One of the questions I most frequently get asked is, “How do you quiet your thoughts during meditation?”  I remember wondering the same thing at the beginning of last year when I got serious about practicing meditation daily.  I tried many different types of meditation, and was always hoping the next technique would be the “perfect” one that would help me achieve true silence of the mind.

No matter what technique I tried, the one constant remained – my “monkey mind.”  If I wasn’t thinking about something that happened in the past, or something that might happen in the future, I was thinking things like, “Am I doing this right?…My back hurts…Is my posture correct?…How much longer?”

I kept trying again each day because my teachers always said, “It will get easier with time.”  I was trying not to be impatient, but it wasn’t working out so well.  I desperately wanted to be at peace.  At the time, I was working my way out of depression and anxiety.  So, for me, meditation wasn’t just a nice thing to do – I thought my peace of mind depended on getting it right.

One day, I was listening to a talk by Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith and he said something that lifted the burden I placed on myself about having a perfectly still meditation.  He said, “There is no such thing as a bad meditation.”  He went on to say that the thoughts that come up during meditation are part of the healing process.  I certainly had never thought about it that way.  It was just what I needed to hear to begin to make the shift from judging myself for not having a quiet mind to loving myself unconditionally, and accepting where I was in the moment.

From that point forward, I became more compassionate with myself as I released old ways of thinking in meditation.  As thoughts came up, I just allowed them to flow without judgment or resistance.  After meditation was over, I began journaling about what came up.  I began asking myself, “What types of thoughts keep coming up for me?  How have I been feeling when holding onto that thought?  Am I ready to forgive and release it?”

When I noticed a “negative” thought pattern that was coming up consistently, I made a conscious effort to affirm the Truth in its place.  For example, if I found myself worrying about finances, I would affirm the abundance of God.  Or, if I found myself harboring resentment toward someone, I would affirm the Truth about them – they were created in the image and likeness of God – and practice seeing beyond what the physical eyes were showing me.  I would forgive myself for seeing them with the ego instead of with the Spirit.

I kept this practice up for months, along with unraveling old thought patterns and beliefs that were not serving me through practicing the daily lessons in A Course in Miracles.   I was no longer bothered by thoughts that came up because I urgently wanted to heal all of my false perceptions and habits of mind that weren’t serving me.  Eventually, the thoughts subsided.  I could sit in perfect stillness for extended periods of time with not a thought coming to my mind.  And I could hear the Voice of the Spirit within, lovingly guiding me.  I know, with patience and persistence, the same is possible for anyone.

So, yes, there are indeed meditation practices and breathing techniques that can take your focus away from the thoughts in your mind, but they will  not necessarily assist you with reversing the thought patterns that contribute to lack of peace in the first place.  I found this approach helpful in getting to the root cause, and reversing old thought patterns for good.

This is something I wish I had known when I first started practicing meditation, so I share it with you in hopes that it will be as useful to you as it was to me.  It’s okay if the mind isn’t perfectly still right away.  The key is intentionally focusing on shifting the habitual thought patterns that lead to a restless mind in the first place.  Then, the mind will naturally quiet down, and you will return to the Peace of God.

Keep shining!


Kandace Jones
TWITTER: @coachkandace

About the Author:

I used to live life shackled by fear, doubt, and worry. I put on a happy face while navigating my day-to-day duties, but I was emotionally drained, stressed, and unhappy. When I hit rock bottom, and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was determined to live life differently. I knew there had to be another way. Out of that determination, and guidance from Spirit, the "Living in the Light" blog was born. It documents my spiritual journey out of the darkness and into the Light. After nine months of publicly sharing my journey, and consciously releasing my attachment to the ego, I experienced a powerful spiritual awakening. I went from living in fear, doubt, worry, and stress to complete inner peace. My greatest passion has become assisting others on their own journey to inner peace. My spiritual memoir, From Stress to Peace: An Intimate Journal on the Journey from Living in Darkness to Living in the Light, is available now on Amazon and Click the tabs at the top of the page to learn more about the From Stress to Peace 21-Day Challenge, Living in the Light Retreats, 1:1 sessions, and the Living in the Light Community - all of which are designed to support your journey to inner peace. I appreciate you taking the time to visit the blog and look forward to supporting you in any way I can!