A guide for meditation, mindfulness and master coaching, helping you know how to still a busy mind for yourself and those you serve.
Many spiritual seekers, lovers of personal growth, meditators, life coaches and mindfulness practitioners have asked, “How to still a busy mind?”
- When you learn how to meditate, you bump into a maze of busy thoughts; you may even want to give up meditating.
- Mindfulness exercises promise to help us learn how to still a busy mind, but they can seem abstract and philosophical.
- Natural life coaches in professional life coach training find their minds too busy to coach well, and their clients face the same challenge when finding insights and solutions.
We all know that forcing the mind to be quiet makes it worse.
Try not to think of a song or not see the colour red! What happens?
If you want to still a busy mind to access your intuition more accurately, meditate more deeply, practice mindfulness, experience more peace, or add this to your life coaching skills—the good news is you don’t need to still a busy mind.
You’ll see how important it is to bring even noisy thoughts to building your Wisdom Well.
Quietening the mind is an impossible struggle if you don’t understand the nature of the mind and the difference between the mind and the true self.
Here is a moving story about a professor walking in a jungle who nearly went insane from trying to still his mind and what magically happened instead.
I watched him pace — walking the stage like a caged tiger.
He was so passionate the audience responded with respectful silence.
His silver hair, crystal blue eyes, short fit frame dressed in khaki shorts, shirt, long socks, well-used hiking boots — he looked the part of someone speaking for the love of nature.
I was captivated by this speaker. His message so moved me that it remains in my heart, still all these years later.
In 2008 I had the good fortune of being invited to speak at a world conference hosted by Humanity’s Team in Argentina.
One of the speakers for the day conference, Prof. Janis Roze, a Latvia born herpetologist and professor of biology, walked onto the stage to tell his story.
He spoke with fire; we could feel intuitively how much he cared for the natural wilderness that he’d spent much of his life exploring.
He told us how much he loved “Serpa-aa-nts” in his thick accent, which took me a moment to realize meant reptiles and snakes.
He’d spent many months deep in the Amazon jungle studying his beloved creatures.
“You can go mad in the jungle,” he said, from solitude and silence.
“You can get lost in the Amazon jungle and die even 20 metres from camp,” he told us.
Sound falls dead where it is made.
He joked that in daylight, the jungle was very quiet; the only sound was when monkeys above came to urinate on the humans below.
For days and weeks on end, he would mark his trail with a machete to find his way back and walk alone through the thick untouched jungle.
He began to pace up and down on the stage like a caged tiger as he relived the frustration and madness of that time.
“The loudest thing in the jungle was my mind,” he shared. “My thoughts were making me crazy.”
“SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” He shouted on stage, reliving the memory.
“SHUT UP! SHUT UP” he clutched his head of fine silver hair.
He told us how the harder he fought, the louder the thoughts got.
On the brink of insanity, he tried something new.
“I gave up. I thought you win, talk then,” He surrendered.
He stopped pacing the stage to look at us. From agitation, he now carried an aura of peace.
After realizing he could not quite his mind, he gave up trying and instead ignored it entirely. Becoming more interested in the jungle. This drew him into the silence of the space, of the mighty jungle that he loved so much.
As I listened to his words, he was drawing me into that silence.
“And then,” he continued, “I was looking at a tree, this tree was not different to any other tree.”
He looked up, we could imagine his tree.
“My mind went quiet. Silent. And there was no me and a tree. I was the tree. The tree was me.
“I knew the trees are my lungs, I knew the rivers are my blood.
“This changed me forever.
I still feel the same, even now years later.”
His eyes sparkled with tears.
Thank you Prof. Janis Roze.
What does this story tell us about how to still a busy mind?
It teaches us the futility of fighting the mind and trying to force thoughts to “shut up.”
The treasures of peace, intuitive insight and mindful presence are not found in the mind.
And they are not found by trying to eliminate the mind.
We simply need look beyond the mind — setting aside our obsessive interest in thoughts, welcoming less interested in the endless inner chatter and more interest in the silent peaceful presence in which all thoughts arise.
Here are my Wisdom Well Meditation journals on trying to quieten the mind.
“How to still a busy mind? I want to know how to have enduring inner peace.”
“Only the mind is at war with the mind. Only thoughts are at war with thoughts.
“The space isn’t bothered by storm clouds. Become less interested in the clouds and more interested in the silent space of the true self in which thoughts arise and fall.
“You are already that silent peace. Always
“You as pure awareness, you as the true self are not in conflict with anything, you are not in conflict with the mind. The mind does not touch you.
“When you realize that only thoughts fight with other thoughts, you also realize that there is no winning when you try to force the mind into silence.
“The mind and thoughts arise from silence, and so let thoughts be, and take attention to the home of thought which is the true self.
“When the true self becomes more interesting than thoughts, silence and peace pervade.
“The peace that surpasses all understanding is the nature of the true self.
Rather than being interested in the hypnosis of the movie-making mind, we can tune into silence intuitively.
The mind and thoughts hypnotize attention.
But with sincere interest, we can rest attention in silence. This silence is not opposed to the noise of the mind. This silence is the space untouched by all walls.
“When we argue with ourselves who are we arguing with?”
“Thoughts make it seem that you are one of the ones arguing. That’s why you say ‘I am arguing with myself.’ Or it will seem that you are divided in two or more, with each part arguing.
“But this is not true — when you read an argument on a screen or watch a movie of characters arguing, you know you are the witness, not the one arguing.
“One thought arises and an opposite thought arises in conflict with it.
“Inner dialogue might continue with multiple points of view each producing conflicting thoughts. The mind is polarized, that is its nature. It weaves and creates the appearance of duality, like movies that appear real on a screen.
“You are looking for a place to plant your flag, to decide which thought is your position. But worse than this is that you form an identity based on the position of your flag.
All the while, you are not your thoughts.
Thoughts arise naturally and automatically — it is the nature of the mind to produce thoughts like an endless stream.
Until the stream finds its source in the ocean it will not be still. When thought finds its home in wisdom, it naturally rests without effort.
“Attention can move from one thought to another, you can plant your flag in one mental position, choosing one mental perspective over another. Or you can feel torn between points of view.
“You are not a point of view. You are not your thoughts. Just like you are not the words on the screen.
“The words on the screen appear because of the software. Thoughts appear because of software called the mind. They appear on the screen of consciousness.
“Just like these words do not affect the screen, thoughts do not affect the screen of consciousness which is your true self. They arise in you and of you but you are not trapped in them.
“You are always free of your thoughts, it is the body that suffers from false or conflicted thoughts. And the life that is manipulated by thoughts suffers.
MIND: “So how do I use this knowledge to help the mind find its home in peace?”
“Call the ambassador of attention back from thoughts.
“Attention is like an ambassador; it’s an ambassador from the true self; it is a function in consciousness. Its job is to help gather knowledge.
“When attention is on the contents of awareness, you can gather knowledge from the contents. This is useful and necessary for living.
You eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and taste duality.
“But when your soul matures, your mind is naturally called home to the true self. The true self does not belong in the world of knowledge.
“The movie-making mind spins words and pictures on the screen; they come and go, are impermanent. The screen of consciousness pure awareness, is ever-present and unchanging, made of love, peace and joy. So call back the ambassador of attention to rest in the home of the true self.
“When attention is on thoughts, the body’s nervous system will naturally feel the effects of tuning in intuitively to something that is polarized, busy and restless.
“When attention rests in the true self, home as pure awareness, the body’s nervous system naturally feels the effects of tuning into wholeness and unchanging peace.
So eat of the fruits of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is enlightening, it liberates the mind from its endless search for its home.
“This can bring much peace and quietness to the mind’s seeking, heart’s longing and gut instinct resistance. Then even if the mind continues to be busy, attention is established and rests in the self, which blesses the nervous system with peace.
Call the ambassador of attention home and give the body, heart and mind rest.
“If I am not my thoughts, what am I?”
“You are the true self, pure awareness.
“Ask, ‘Am I aware of my thoughts?’
You are aware of your thoughts.
“This ‘you’ is therefore not your thoughts. Your thoughts are not aware, thoughts are like the words on the screen.
“Thoughts arise automatically, it is their nature to do so.
“When you identify with thoughts you create a false identity, a bundle of thoughts that you claim as the self. This causes great suffering and ironically makes the mind far more restless.
“When you teach the mind that its home is silence. When you show the mind that the true self is pure open awareness, the mind benefits — as does the body. They gain great peace.
“When you realize the true self as pure open awareness, you claim your true ‘I’ true being and your true ‘eyes’ — true seeing.
“Realizing true seeing and being is the gift of all lifetimes. Your true seeing and being is universal, whole, peace, love and wisdom.
Peace indicates you are tuned in to truth.
Contraction indicates you are tuned into something that is a distortion of truth. Something false.
“Can this be a meditation mindfulness practice?”
“Yes. The highest form of meditation is to rest attention in and as the self. As pure awareness.
This is like medicine for the body’s nervous system.
“If you are drawn to this, let your interest and love of the true self call you home.
“The highest use of meditation is as deep rest to support the embodiment of the true self in the personality, body and mind.
“Mindfulness in its highest form is not thinking about thinking. Mindfulness in its highest form is not about separating from life, becoming a cold witness.
“Use mindfulness to call attention back to the true self because you want to feel the peace, love and wholeness of your true nature.
Learning how to still a busy mind means becoming more interested in the true self space in which all thoughts appear.
It may take practice and an understanding of the true self. For many, it helps to be guided by a teacher. The prize is to embody the truth of who you are, heal the divisions of the mind, end the war in the heart, bless the body with the peace of your true nature, and live an enlightened life.
I guide students and friends to this path using the best of meditation, mindfulness and master coaching. If this resonates, join my Wisdom Well Well classes.