For thousands of years, people have sought methods to quiet their minds. Long before modern technology introduced new distractions into our lives, humans have pursued inner peace. Think what it must have been like so many years ago. There were no modern conveniences, food was not readily available from a store or a delivery service, health care was unknown. People struggled to find peace, but they managed.
Today’s technologies introduce struggles of their own. I’m not ready to trade today’s struggles for those of our ancestors, but I still need to quiet the chatter in my mind at times. If you’re looking for a simple method to quiet your mind and have a more peaceful life, these four ancient techniques have proven effective even by today’s standards.
There are several different types of meditation. The basic breathing meditation is a good one to start off with. It’s a simple, but not always easy, effective method for calming your mind. Start by finding a comfortable and quiet place where you can sit and observe your breath. With practice, you’ll be able to meditate longer periods or place your mind on your breath in any surroundings.
Develop single-pointed concentration. Train your mind to rest upon your object of meditation whether it’s a candle or a spoken mantra. Note any distracting thoughts but decline to pursue them. Bring your mind back to your chosen object.
Learn to visualize. Select images that promote happiness and serenity. Perhaps you may want to picture snow-capped mountains or sheep grazing in a meadow.
Focus on positive thoughts. If your meditation is part of a spiritual practice, you can follow the prayers taught in your tradition. Alternatively, you can soothe your mind by repeating any thought or quote that is meaningful for you.
If you are not quite ready for doing meditation on your own, there are a number of really good guided meditations on video. You can just do a YouTube search for guided meditation and you will find many to choose from. I especially like some of the “two minute meditations” for when I need a quick time out.
Use the Soothing Qualities of Water
Cultures all over the world have long appreciated the calming effects of water. A simple warm bath can soothe your nerves. Rest your head on a bath pillow and add some comforting scents like sandalwood or lavender. Turn the lights down low and play soft music.
Surround yourself with the sound of water. Eat your lunch by a park fountain or install a solar device in your own backyard. You can find recordings of waterfalls or other aquatic effects that you can save on your phone and play anywhere you go.
Fall in love with nature
Go for a walk. In some eras, it was common for people to go on long retreats into the wilderness. Even a short break can do wonders to restore your peace of mind. Visit your local park or take a quiet walk around your neighborhood. A number of schools and towns have walking and biking paths available for local residents. If you work indoors all week, use the weekend to explore scenic trails at your favorite state parks or metro parks.
Grow things. Gardening is a great way to slow down and appreciate nature. Devote a section of your backyard to growing flowers and vegetables. If you live in an apartment setting, select plants that will flourish indoors or on a balcony, like some species of palm trees and herbs.
Growing your own micro greens is becoming more and more popular. You can enjoy gardening and have healthy greens in just a few weeks as well. There are a lot of good options for people with busy lives, like the one on the left that is a low cost self watering garden. If you’ve never grown things before, this is a nice way to start.
Put the past behind you. Dwelling on the past can make it difficult to feel composed. If you’re thinking about past misfortunes, decide if you’d rather devote your energy to more constructive activities.
Look towards the future, but don’t live there. The future always carries some uncertainty. Set yourself some goals, and trust that you have what it takes to accomplish them. Focus on creating a better future for you and your loved ones, stay positive, and patiently accept whatever outcomes arise.
Most importantly, enjoy the present moment. Give your full attention to what is happening now. Take advantage of the opportunities before you and delight in the good things that surround you. Steer your mind towards wholesome thoughts and actions. Engage fully with the people who are good for you to be around and care about you.
Enjoy greater peace
Many of these ancient tools work equally well today for achieving a quiet mind regardless of external circumstances. Most of them are free, or require a minimum investment. Be open to trying these tools, and find which ones work best for you. Practice them consistently, and you can create a more peaceful life for yourself and those around you.
Find your purpose – find your joy!