10 Ways to a Quiet Mind

“Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Silence. Silenzio. Silence. Silêncio. Schweigen. Šutnja. Stilte.
Whatever language you speak, the word silence means the same thing. More than just quietness, it also signifies a certain peace.

Simon & Garfunkel’s seminal The Sound of Silence was written the year I was born, and has always been one of my all time favourite songs. Listening to it as a child I would wonder aloud, what was the sound that silence made? Did it actually have a sound, a vibration to it? I think it does… it whispers things for sure.

If you live in a busy city then noise is a part of life. Even if you live in the country you have the noise of your incessant thoughts to keep you agitated. Peace is not that easy to come by it seems. TV, mobile phones, planes, trains, automobiles, screaming kids, screaming adults. No wonder we choose to self medicate so often: drink, drugs, sex – all ways of drowning out the roar and going into a quieter zone. It’s a self-medicating way of meditating; one of the few times when our minds actually stop.

So how can we get this longed for peace without Class A, a dried up liver, or chanting with the llamas? How can we find the silence in ourselves? For it’s in the silence that we find all the answers we seek. Inspiration and ideas come to us quite loudly – in silence.

So to clear the extraneous sounds – inside and out – here are some suggestions to access and enjoy your own Sounds of Silence:

1. Take a walk on the wild side and get into the country. Or find out where your nearest park or beach or forest or hill or nature trail or ocean is – and go explore! Breathe in some fresh air and feel your whole body relax and your mind switch off. Nature has a beautiful way of healing us, just like that.

2. Just S.T.O.P what you’re doing. Now! Seriously, just sit, stand and stare at the sky for at least 5 minutes. Do nothing. Stop standing there and do nothing.

4. Get up very early one morning. Take a walk around your neighbourhood and savour it before the morning rush. It’s a beautiful time of the day to be alive!

5. Or if you’re a night bird, wait until everyone else is asleep and sit in the dark. Switch off the TV, take time out from alcohol and simply enjoy the night time. For many parents this is the ONLY time you’ll get some peace and quiet. Be still with your own thoughts.

6. Meditate. The western idea of meditating is sitting quietly not moving in some draughty monastery. No! You can meditate while you’re washing up. Driving a car can be meditative. Sure, its better if you can sit cross legged in front of a candle but not everyone can do that. Just take time out to watch your thoughts is a good start. Watch them like clouds passing across the sky and don’t attach yourself to them.

7. Listen to some classical music or just ambient background noise. Music is a great healer and calms the nervous system. I’m talking more Mozart here than thrash metal, obviously. Violins, harp and flute are all wonderful sounds to take you out of your head and into your heart.

8. If you’re at work, turn off the mobile phone, step away from the computer, walk out of the building and have a minimum 5-minute break. Being stuck in front of your desk all day without moving is nuts.

9.  If you’re not much into nature, then find a local museum to visit, or an art gallery. Anywhere where you can slip gently into your right brain is going to help you relax and zone out of the mindless brain chatter.

10. Do some stream of consciousness writing. Author and playwright Julia Cameron began the idea of morning pages in her classic book [amazon ASIN=”1585421464″]The Artists Way[/amazon]. If any of you feel creatively stymied and want to release blocks, this is a must-read!