The experience of the “inner chatterbox” is something that most people have experienced. Sometimes the chatter is made up of our “to do” list– mentally repeating itself in cycles over and over again. Sometimes they are critical thoughts or judgments about what we have already done or seen of other people that day. They are thoughts about the past and thoughts about the future. Often worrisome or negative.
So how do we find our space of inner quiet?
The key behavior is finding the present moment again. Most of us have probably heard about this concept, or even read books like Be Here Now. And it seems like a straightforward concept, but we all know that the truth of the matter is that it is easier said than done. The main obstacle we face is that we spent our whole life training our brains (wiring the neurons and everything) to always be planning ahead or ruminating over things that have already happened. This prevents our brains from being able to process and notice what is going around us right now.
However, if we could re-train our brains to pay attention to what is happening in the moment, we would begin to feel more calm throughout the day.
Often, when we finally take the time to notice what is happening right here and now, we begin to feel more joyful and uplifted from experiencing the inner peace that comes from focusing on the present.
But don’t take my word for it– experience it yourself! For one minute, just try focusing your attention on what is happening right now around you. First, you may put your attention on the noises with you in your room, then move to those coming from outside, going further and further out. You can even write down all that you hear. Then look outside or even step outside if possible, and take a look at the patterns of clouds in the sky, how the air feels to you, what you see in the vast blue above. You may even want to draw what you see.
Other things we can practice throughout the day include mindfulness. We can practice conscious eating for example, or when we speak with family, friends, or co-workers– really listen and stop thinking about what we want to say next before truly hearing in their words what they are trying to express.
When walking, running, or in any type of exercise– feel the way your feet hit the ground with each step, listen to the way your body is breathing and your heart is beating, and marvel at the incredible system that is within you making all the parts of your body work together to keep you strong and full of infinite amounts of energy.
For people who like to take walks in nature, a great nature education exercise created by Joseph Cornell (author of the international best-seller, Sharing Nature) that teaches how to be mindful in nature can be found here.
For examples of quick and simple yoga exercises and practices that can help focus your attention and help you to feel calm. I also recommend reading How to Meditate for Beginners because meditation goes hand and hand with practicing mindfulness. It is the best method for learning to quiet the mind so you can lead a more calm and joyful life.
If after trying any or all of these things you notice that you feel less stressed and a little more calm, can you imagine how much better you would feel if you practiced being in the moment more and more each day?
By practicing awareness, being fully conscious of what is going on within you and around you, and concentrating with willpower and focus on these things– you will be able to quiet your mind.