Bringing the Mind to Rest (5 simple techniques)

Bringing the Mind to Rest (5 simple techniques)

From time to time, I receive requests from people to help them overcome anxiety or teach them meditation or yoga.
So while my usual inclination is to go off writing about the Yoga Vasishtha or similar, I decided to also write something more practical for this newsletter for general benefit. Here I suggest some meditations/contemplations for bringing the mind to rest.

Do feel free to share any questions/comments below.

Peace of Mind: simple meditations and contemplations

Understanding the nature of mind

Conflict and confusion is the nature of a mind that has lost connection to Source.

Such a mind is desperate in its attempt to make sense of the world. The main themes running in such a mind are:

‘Time is running out.’

‘What should I do?’

‘I like X.’ ‘I hate Y.’

This mind desperately tries to seek rest and believes it lies in some resolution or attainment in the world of objects. When it can’t find it, it begins to suffer from anxiety, depression, burn-out, etc

The mind needs rest. This rest can only happen when something beyond the mind is recognised and brought into experience. 

Some simple meditations/contemplations that you can try:

1. Ground into the body

The body is a wonderful instrument through which we experience. If we closely observe the body’s experience, keeping our attention more on how the body feels, we will find that a lot of mental noise subsides. The conditioned mind has lots of prejudices, but the body is innocent. It never lies. It has its natural impulses and preferences but without the psychological element that distorts perception.

Drop the attention from the head (where attention and energy normally resides when we are attached to thinking) to the heart (or centre of the chest). Feel into the body. Become aware of the energy inside and notice how you might be feeling – starting with physical sensations which may be interpreted into feelings (such as ‘I feel tired’) and then just allowing the energy in the body to be as it is. 

Observe your breathing. This very effectively takes you out of the mind and into the body.

Feel as if you are breathing through every cell of your body, not just the nose. The entire body is breathing. 

Try to stay with the experience of the body as you move through the day. For instance, when troubling thoughts arise, ask yourself: ‘is it the body that dislikes how X spoke to me?’ You’ll find that no, the body is quite OK. It is the interpretations of the mind that, when fed with attention and energy, produce feelings of discomfort.

Checking in with the feelings of the body is a good way to take a “reality check” and realise just how much we trouble ourselves with our imaginings of things to be fixed or achieved.

2. Fly on the wall

This is a very simple exercise. For some minutes, disconnect from your experience of experiencing as a particular person and ask yourself what would be your experience if instead, you were a fly on the wall in the room?

Really feel into it. Would you have certain thoughts or feelings? Would you be worried about the next 5 years? Would you judge the sounds or smells or sights in your experience? Would you even label these sensations or would it feel more like a soup or flow of sensations coming and going. Like the experience of an infant.

Feel the aliveness that becomes the predominant thing in your experience. An aliveness with Silence as its base or root. 

Notice how all the perceptions are perceived effortlessly and don’t have any set meanings for you. Feel the freedom and rest of that.

(The same can be practiced by sitting and being with a plant or other part of nature).

3. Noticing and Allowing

Simply paying attention is one of the most powerful things we can do. The transformative power of conscious attention is miraculous.

Simply observe thoughts and feelings without wanting them to change. This doesn’t mean that we observe lazily (because we’re not looking for an outcome). But bringing full relaxed attention, feeling with our entire mind, body and heart, without the reflex to avoid or change or distract ourselves.

Letting be whatever wants to express. A story of blame, an energy of guilt, an emotion of sadness…Whatever comes is noticed as something arising and not judged.

Realising that you are the witness but a witness without any attributes – without position or purpose.

4. Gratitude

Simply saying “thank you” is deeply powerful. Whenever possible, if we even take a couple of minutes to acknowledge our life with gratitude, something within us aligns with wellbeing and Light.

Taking some moments to acknowledge the element of space or ‘akash’, thanking it for holding and allowing your life; thanking that which breathes the body, beats the heart, powers the senses; thanking even for thinking; for experience and life itself.

‘Thank you’ can be one of the best energetic cleansers.

5. Do Nothing

Can you just sit and allow nothing to happen? Don’t pick up any task at all. Nowhere to bring attention, nothing to observe, no problem to solve.

Just waste time. Say to yourself, ‘I’m just going to waste the next 10 minutes’.

In Zen, this practice is called ‘just sitting’. 



Know that the natural state of the mind is to be at rest and it will remain so unless it is disturbed.


O mind, my friend, what’s the good of so much speaking?
O mind, my friend, all of this has been made quite clear.
I’ve told you what I know to be true;
You’re the ultimate Reality. You’re unbounded, like space.

– Avadhuta Gita, I: 68



You might also like to read:
Meditation 101
3 Wonderful Guided Meditations
Mind & Meditation – A Saint’s Advice (Ma Sarada)


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