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Monk: 9 Tips for Quieting the Mind

While we can take measures to block out external noise by closing windows or using headphones, internal noise from our own thoughts can be overwhelming. Often, our thoughts can be louder than anything else and seem uncontrollable. However, there are ways to manage them and find peace. Richard Patterson, a former monk who now helps people through his blog, has developed techniques to help those with an overactive mind find happiness and fulfillment. He offers nine valuable tips to deal with persistent thoughts that interfere with a peaceful mind.
Monk: 9 Tips for Quieting the Mind

1. Acknowledge your brain is constantly active.

Did you know that the average brain comes up with about 70,000 thoughts every day? That's a lot of thoughts, so no wonder he's so active. Even relatively relaxed people "hear" a lot of thoughts in their head, so don't be surprised if your mind isn't quite quiet.
Don't create a new layer of suffering by feeling that something is wrong with you - expecting your mind to be quiet is like expecting the grass in your garden not to be green. Let the brain talk as much as it wants and as it is natural for it to do, and don't expect it to be quiet - a quiet mind is only found in the dead and the stupid.

2. You choose whether to talk to your brain

Richard claims that one of the things that has most influenced his perception as a monk regarding self-peace and tranquility is the realization that the decision whether to interact with his thoughts is entirely up to him. It is not the thoughts that cause you suffering, but the preoccupation with them, he says. You chew them like chewing gum and give them more attention and time than necessary.
Richard suggests allowing your mind to freely express itself without any interference. This may seem like unhelpful advice, but it will make more sense when you follow his subsequent tips.
You choose whether to talk to your brain

3. Distance yourself from your thoughts

Many of our thoughts are automatic, and they create a routine that we may not even realize. The key is to become aware of this pattern and observe your thoughts with curiosity and acceptance instead of judgment and criticism. This is similar to meditation, where you learn to step back and objectively view your thoughts. Secondly, it's important to.
4. Let your thoughts come and go freely without holding onto them
If you attempt to calm an angered bull, chasing it and attempting to tie its legs will only aggravate it further, rendering it uncontrollable. Instead, allowing the bull to run freely in an open space, where it can expend its energy, is the better approach. The same applies to your thoughts. Thoughts, in themselves, are not problematic. They arise in the mind, linger for a moment, and then dissipate. The issue arises when we attempt to suppress or condemn them. By permitting thoughts to run their course in the open field of consciousness, they will eventually burn out. In the worst-case scenario, it is preferable to embrace thoughts rather than confront them.
Let your thoughts come and go freely without holding onto them

5. Don't take your thoughts personally

Richard claims that this is the second most important thing he learned in this field during his time as a monk; When most people feel jealous, scared, or angry, they beat themselves up for it, believe they are responsible for their thoughts and feelings, and are certain that there is something wrong with them. But everything is fine - you are not the writers who write your thoughts. Notice that the thoughts just pop up by themselves, as if out of nowhere.
When monks practice mindfulness techniques, they use the "river flowing under the bridge" analogy to explain the relationship with the mind. The flowing river is the stream of thoughts and feelings that pass-through consciousness, while you are on a bridge over it. Most people, on the other hand, feel that they are in the current and struggle with it like crazy, with every attempt to control it doomed to failure. Even if the current is raging, as long as you are on a bridge over it, it will be much easier for you to experience peace in its surroundings.

6. Know the difference between thoughts that pop up and conscious thinking

While it's not possible to control the spontaneous thoughts that appear in your mind, deliberate thinking is a distinct matter. For instance, if the thought "My boss dislikes me" arises, it can trigger an internal conversation that may go as follows: "I'm likely to be overlooked for a promotion, which is unjust. I've put in more effort than my colleagues, but my boss prefers to promote those who are in his inner circle. I'll never progress in my career, and my life is full of misfortune."
The act of constantly thinking negatively can lead to significant distress, but it is something that can be controlled. If you repeatedly tell yourself about a bleak future and allow yourself to wallow in sorrow, you are consciously causing yourself to suffer. However, this suffering can be avoided by adopting the same approach as monks. If you become aware of a negative thought and find yourself building scenarios around it, it is important to stop immediately. By catching yourself in time and choosing not to dwell on negative thoughts, you can prevent them from persisting
Monk: 9 Tips for Quieting the Mind

7. Choose to live in the now

One crucial aspect of meditation is learning to live in the present, as our awareness can only be focused on one thing at a time. If you become lost in your thoughts, you cannot simultaneously be aware of your surroundings. In contrast, focusing on the present moment can help you to quiet the thoughts in your head.
When you focus on the present moment, your mind naturally becomes calm. If you notice yourself slipping into negative thought patterns, take a break and engage your senses. Take a sip of something, consciously listen to the sounds around you, and smell your surroundings. By being aware of your present surroundings, you can avoid falling into negative and distressing thoughts.

8. Don't believe everything the brain tells you

t's essential to recognize that your mind can be a harsh critic, and not all of its opinions are true. Often, these criticisms stem from our childhood experiences, and it's crucial to distinguish between what is right and wrong, true and false, and not believe everything our mind tells us. For instance, phrases like "You're a bad boy!" "You're not good enough!" "You'll never amount to anything!" "Nobody loves you!" that we heard during our childhood still impact our thoughts today.
As a child, you may have been told things by parents or other children that were not necessarily true or helpful to you. It's important to question your thoughts and not always believe them, especially if they make you feel bad. Truly 'bad' people don't have thoughts that challenge them, but you always have the opportunity to make things right if you've done something wrong. 
Monk: 9 Tips for Quieting the Mind

9. Learn to meditate

Learning how to meditate can be incredibly helpful in combating the overwhelming thoughts that come with modern life. A Chinese proverb suggests that even if you're busy, you should meditate for an hour every day. Meditation helps with two of the main reasons why we struggle with negative thoughts: lack of awareness and the belief that our thoughts define who we are.
The analogy of clouds passing across the sky can be applied to our thoughts, which can either be negative or positive. However, just like the sky remains constant, we can learn to detach ourselves from our thoughts and be at peace. We have the power to control our feelings and thoughts, as the mind is a tool that can be utilized positively or negatively. When we feel overwhelmed by our thoughts, we should remind ourselves that we are in control and not let them dictate our emotions. By taking a moment to be present and reasserting our control, we can prevent our thoughts from ruining our day.

The control is now yours

It's important to understand that your mind is not inherently evil, as it is a necessary aspect for survival. The mind is a tool that can be utilized in either positive or negative ways, depending on how much control one has over it. If you feel like your mind is dominating your thoughts and actions, remind yourself that you are in charge and your mind is there to serve you, not the other way around. Take a moment to center yourself, be present, and remember your true identity to regain control. Don't allow your mind to control your day, and instead use it as a beneficial tool.
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