Clearing Your Mind Practically
3 years ago
Just Stop Thinking?
Clearing your mind - becoming internally silent - is not easy. We are influenced from birth to start and keep the internal dialog. Just saying 'I think I'll stop thinking now' is bound to fail.
When I was a child, my older sister challenged me to not think of a certain object, like an elephant. I could not do it. In order to not think of the object, I had to identify it- that is to think about it.
Breathing is Better
Most deep and old meditation traditions have some reference to breathing. Some part of the traditional technique that requires us to monitor our breathing. This is much better than going cold turkey to stop our internal dialog. It gives a replacement activity for the mind. Quitting thinking cold turkey is only going to work for the most disciplined minds - those who have already experienced lots of success meditating.
I myself have spent lots of time focusing on my breath. And it works ... for a while. But then the internal dialog starts itself up again without us noticing, and before you know it our mind has drifted on past past three topics. Breathing is a good start but it still takes incredible discipline to sustain.
Breathing with a focus on something increases your ability to calm the mind to a quiet. Your attention is on your breath. Your eyes focus on some object. You can also put your attention on the object as a change from your breath. This is a little easier since we often think about what we are looking at. As you look at some plain natural object there is really not much to think about it. This lets your mind become quiet by degrees. You can achieve a high degree of facility with this technique but it is still hard.
Now try becoming silent inside with the opposite technique. This is the flood. With this technique you aim to become quiet by flooding the mind through the senses - particularly the sense of sight. Plus you get to keep moving so there are no difficult and uncomfortable poses to worry about. The body is kept busy.
Simply look at the horizon, and then a few degrees above it. As you walk, focus your attention on your peripheral vision. You can even let your vision become a bit unfocused. Keep walking. And keep focusing on the peripheral. This technique is very difficult but the charm is right from the beginning your mind is tricked into concentrating on nothing of great importance (like the importance of our thoughts) and even just trying to focus on your peripheral vision starts the quieting effect.
Keep going with this practice. the aim is to be able to sustain the silence after we are not moving any more. And to remember the feeling of the silence so you can learn to summon the silence by recalling the feeling. Recalling silence is the jedi mastery of the mind.