I found this tip really helpful when I first practiced mindfulness. I'd developed enough mindfulness to be conscious of my thoughts and I was generally feeling pretty damn good. But when something triggered my emotional pain, I’d lose it. My peace would be gone and I would often slip back into depression for a little while.
Even in the midst of the depression I could still watch my thoughts, I was all too familiar with my thinking patterns and preoccupations and I could see my minds tendency to go towards worries and knew the common themes which triggered my despair. I could observe the old stories going round and round again, and could witness my insane reasoning. I could see my madness, it was as clear as day, but when it was like this I could rarely find enough mindfulness to give me much peace from it. Whatever I tried the chatter continued.
I know now that this is a normal part of the training, and that mindfulness comes and goes. Mindfulness always returns eventually, and so will yours too. Getting lost in your head again and being dragged back into the madness is all just part of the passage. Mindfulness comes and goes and that's fine and when you can see it like that it will hardly trouble you at all, but the truth is, for a large part of the passage you may find this kind of thing happening a lot – so here’s the tip.
Step 1 – Surrender
Don’t even try to silence your mind. The trying is a non-acceptance of now you see. If you have a chattering mind in this present moment then that is how it is. Trying is resistance to what is and actually makes things worse. In truth whatever you fight you make stronger because the fight gives it attention and provides it with energy. So surrender to your noisy head. If your mind is running wild that’s okay, it is as it is, offer no resistance, and if you can achieve the ultimate, let go and want nothing other than what is right now and you may free yourself in one go! But if you can’t, which is most likely, then surrender to that too.
Step 2 – Stop and be where you are
Check into your body. Ask yourself “where am I now?”, or “what is real right now?” and then focus fully on what is real in this moment, not on what is unreal, the past and the future in your head, but focus fully on what is real right now. You’ll often find that this brings instant relief and for a moment the world shines back. If your emotional painbody is in full stride you’ll be unlikely to get relief for long, but it always helps to remind yourself of what real even if it’s only a fleeting appreciation. As you focus on where you are, here and now, your attention is taken away from head chatter and into your body. You may find some space in your mind and some relief from your compulsive thoughts. If your head continues to chatter don't worry, it's fine, sometimes It's like that. We still have a trick up our sleeves
Distract your mind with a mantra
If you already use a mantra meditation technique use that, or if you want to chant Gods name in Sanskrit then do that, but if not you can always make up a mantra of your own.
You could repeat: “There is only now” or “I am not my thoughts” over and over again.
You may choose to meditate on this mantra for a while, or you could simply keep repeating it in your head as you go about your business (being as mindful as possible of course). The mantra will act as a distraction for your mind. It helps to focus attention and some mantra's can even help to bring you into a kind of universal harmonic alignment; but we'll explore that another time.
At the very least you'll find that your mind gets so bored with the mantra that is “shuts up” and you’ll eventually get some peace, but even whilst it is still chattering the mantra is far less destructive than where your mind would go without the mantra to focus on. So you might as well give a go.
If you missed it – have a look at Top Tip #1 (here) and look out for Top Tip #3 coming soon…