A Quiet Mind
A Quiet Mind
I’m currently re-reading The Bhagavad Gita after reading it a year ago during my yoga teacher training. For those unfamiliar with the Bhagavad Gita, it’s an ancient Indian text that is part of the voluminous, epic poem, the Mahabharata, where the two main characters, while on a battlefield, discuss the main paths towards spiritual enlightenment and becoming one with the Divine.
When I read it the first time, I was not in the proper state of mind to soak in some of its wisdom as my mind hadn’t fully decompressed from the last 17 years of working in a relatively intense and competitive industry. I remember feeling like I was being preached to. The experience this time around has been completely different. My mind is more at ease and receptive to its relatively simple lessons and it got me thinking more about the mind and specifically, how to train our minds to become quiet.
I believe a strong mind is a quiet mind. But like any other muscle in our body, for our minds to get stronger and quieter, we need to train it. Yet, there is still very little focus on training our minds. If we want to run a marathon or become more flexible or stronger, we train our physical bodies to achieve these goals. So why not also train our minds to become stronger, quieter and more still?
So how does one’s mind become quieter? This is one of the main ideas in The Bhagavad Gita called Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga is selfless action without attachment to the outcome, or, the “fruits” of our labour. The idea is the less we crave attachment to the outcomes of our actions, the less our mind is affected by feelings of joy, sadness, acceptance, rejection and any other feelings we may experience. Reducing our sensory perception of these feelings, will help decrease the anxiety and stress often associated with these feelings, resulting in a quieter and calmer mind.
Most people, including myself, just can’t turn off our senses that easily but there are simple ways to start training our minds to become stronger and quieter so we can eventually let go of some of these sensory reactions. Many meditate to strengthen and quiet the mind. Meditating is not easy, and most people aren’t able to meditate right away. The act of meditating is essentially a practice designed to train our minds to focus and be still when it starts to wander. Things that challenge us physically like Power yoga, weight-lifting and running long distances, are also great ways to strengthen our mind. If we can keep our minds constant and calm during feelings of discomfort, our minds will learn to become stronger and calmer during other stressful or less ideal situations.
A quiet mind takes effort and practice. The more time spent studying for an exam, the better the chances are of doing well. The more time spent training for a race, the stronger and more prepared we will be to do our best in that race. The more time spent training our minds, the stronger and quieter it will become. Like anything we do, the more we practice, the easier it will get.
For me, I now practice yoga almost daily and it’s no coincidence that I’ve never been more relaxed or at ease. Combining my breath with movement on the mat has helped to relax and keep my mind more constant. Re-reading The Bhagavad Gita has also inspired me to become more conscious of trying to minimize attachments to the outcomes of my actions to further quiet my mind and become something of a mind minimalist! Yoga has worked for me but I’d love to hear what types of wellness activities and practices helps you to quiet your mind. Please feel free to comment below!
Co-Founder, Movement Travel