How do I get a quieter mind? I get what you’re saying and I’m trying to be quiet inside and everything but then I’m busy at work and the next thing I’m all acting from ego again. I know I have to take the process in steps but it’s not really working for me this way. I need some advice on how I can create more quiet space in my life. Any ideas Scott?
I applaud your efforts to develop a quieter mind. Once you do it you will easily be motivated to continue to do it because the world becomes increasingly beautiful for every level of deepening silence. When you stop judging what people are saying as they say it, and when you’re not formulating your response before they’re even done talking, then your incredibly capably and fantastic mind can focus its attention (aka your consciousness) on the other person. You’ll start to see them for the first time. I’ve had people work with me, they have this breakthrough of slowing down, and then they have lunch with an old friend and they actually cry because they can’t believe how beautiful their friend is and they cannot understand how they never noticed that fact before.
One of the easiest ways to free your mind of judgment and analysis and opinion is to go somewhere neutral. That is to say, somewhere where your mind has pretty much no stake. Somewhere where there is little order, more random serendipity, and maybe even some scents that actually signal to your primordial self that all is well and that you can relax. Did you know that if you can hear birds singing you’ll immediately feel better because that state of affairs is stored in your head under: signs that all is well? I would suggest getting back to your roots. Literally. Get back into nature. And don’t just walk on it in $200 shoes. Lay on some grass. Look at some clouds. Listen to insects and bird songs. Watch some ants. Stop judging and manipulating and Be instead. Just Be in that place at that time. Forget all else. Take in the sights and the smells and the sounds all as one experience.
Many working North Americans can easily go extremely long periods of time without touching any actual nature. And yet depression rates soar and no one looks to how we live to see the explanations for these changes in the public mood. We’re too disconnected. From each other, from nature. Forget going to a movie. I know I make movies, and movies can be great art, but play some board games with friends. Talk about meaningless things simply because they amuse you. Remember that your life is quite short and that you have to make your enjoyment of it an actual priority or some capitalist will convince you to be a slave in trade for trinkets.
Put your feet in running water. Birdwatch. Study insects with your kids. Close your eyes and listen. Start noticing how the sound the rain makes changes as the ground gets more and more saturated. Notice the back and forth of birdsong. Think about the fact that as you walk through a forest you are walking through only half of its ecosystem because below you the trees go just as far out or down as they go up or out. There’s 50,000 earthworms per acre burrowing holes in the soil to help water reach roots, and their castings supply fantastic food sources for the trees growing above. For the birds the forest is a very three-dimensional place and they would sense the shape of the treetops—something we cannot do without the help of a bridge or cliff. You get my point. If you’re going to Be there, then don’t think about the forest, actually be in the forest. Fully in it, with all your senses.
You don’t need a gym membership as much as you need to reacquaint yourself with your basic nature. Eat foods that your ancestors would recognize as food. Get as much sleep as your body seems to request through its actions, and spend regular stretches of time in quiet solitude. Do that and a richness will rise up your life that is difficult for me to convey in words. Life gets an intensity and a hum and glow and it almost feels like being hugged by the universe. You had this feeling all of the time as a kid. Let’s get that back. Let’s get back to less self-talk and more absorption of the world around you. Both you and the world will win if that’s the focus.
Here’s to the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and feel of nature. Here’s to simplicity and quiet and meaninglessness and fun. We weren’t put on this Earth to earn a living. We were born to live. But living is a verb. It does not happen automatically. We must engage with life by making choices that lead to adventure and experience. I look forward to seeing you out there in the world. It’s a wonderful place filled with amazing people like you. So go give it all a big hug. I’ll keep an eye out for you on the trails.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.