Throughout human history people have tried to find effective methods to calm the endless chatter in their minds. Stressful thoughts are nothing new, humans have been pursuing inner peace probably since thinking first began. If you’re looking for a way to quiet your mind and find inner peace, these 4 ancient techniques are just as effective today as they were hundreds, or even thousands of years ago.
Live in the Now
- Leave the past behind you. Focusing on what could or should have been can make it very difficult to feel at peace in the present. Realize that the past is gone forever and that no amount of thinking can change the way things went.
- Plan for the future, but don’t dwell on it. The future always carries some uncertainty and things often turn out different to what you expect. Focus on creating a positive future and be patiently accepting of whatever outcome arises.
Give your full attention to what is happening now. After all, the present moment is all you ever have, so you might as well enjoy it! What’s the point in mentally living in a past that you can’t change or a future that’s uncertain? Take advantage of the opportunities before you and delight in all the good things that surround you. When stressful thoughts arise, steer your mind towards wholesome thoughts and actions. Engage fully with the people who share your life.
- Practice breathing meditation. This is a very simple and effective method to calm your mind. Start by finding a comfortable and quiet place where you can sit and observe your breath. Every time a thought distracts you, gently bring your attention back to your breath. With some practice, you’ll be able to place your attention on your breath (and away from stressful thinking) in any surroundings.
- Develop single-pointed concentration. Train your mind to rest upon your object of meditation whether it’s a candle or a mantra. Notice any distracting thoughts but don’t resist them – just allow them to be. Gently bring your attention back to your chosen object.
- Practice visualization. Picture images in your mind that promote happiness and serenity. Make it as real as possible and always include yourself. Vividly see yourself as the peaceful, serene person you would like to be. Feel what it feels like to be that version of yourself.
- 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 an affirmation that resonates with you.
Discover the Power of Water
- Take a bath. The calming effects of water are known to all the cultures of the world. Simply taking a warm bath can calm your mind and soothe your nerves. Rest your head on a bath pillow and add some comforting scents like lavender or sandalwood. Turn the lights down low and play soft, relaxing music.
- Immerse yourself in the sound of water. Eat your lunch by a flowing river or install a solar fountain in your own backyard. You can also find recordings of waterfalls online or buy a CD with ocean- or other water sounds that you can play anywhere you like.
Get in Touch With Nature
- Spend time with animals. Being around animals is so therapeutic it has even been proven to help people recover from surgery faster. Play with your cat, take your dog for a walk or sign up for horseback riding lessons.
- Walk in nature. In some eras, it was common for people to go on long retreats into the wilderness. But you don’t have to go on a retreat. Even a short walk in a local park or forest can do wonders to restore your peace of mind. Especially if you work indoors all week, use the weekend to explore scenic trails for hiking and cycling.
- Cultivate a garden. Gardening is a great way to slow yourself down and learn to 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, ferns and herbs.
These ancient methods work just as well today to calm a restless mind, regardless of external circumstances. Why not find out a bit more about the healing powers of meditation by visiting your local library or bookstore? With these techniques, you can create a more enjoyable life for yourself and others by training your mind for greater peace.