How to Quiet the Mind
The following is an excerpt from the "How to Quiet the Mind" on-line course from The Daily Om.
If you would like to enroll in the course, click here. The mind is a wonderful tool for thinking, but it has a dark side. There is an aspect of the mind that is not useful but pretends to be useful, which is called the egoic mind. It is the aspect of our mind that chats with us as we move about our day. It is the "voice in our head," as Eckhart Tolle calls it. Much of the time, this voice seems like our own thoughts and our own voice, and we often express these thoughts (e.g., "I love doing that!" "I can't wait until tomorrow." "I wonder what will happen"). At other times, this voice is like the voice of a parent or other authority figure or a friend (e.g., "You should try harder." "Don't forget to take your vitamins." "Wouldn't it be fun to try that!"). It may even seem evil or mean (e.g., "You never do anything right. You're worthless. You might as well give up"). We tend to take this voice seriously--we believe it, agree with it, and don't question it. We believe it because we are programmed, or wired, to believe our own thoughts, regardless of whether they are true and helpful or not. Not only do we believe these thoughts, but we believe they are "ours." We identify with them--we feel they reflect who we are. We don't tend to question our own thoughts, although we readily question other people's thoughts, especially if those thoughts are different from ours. But when we stop and examine what this mental voice is saying, we discover a lot of contradictory advice, misinformation, prejudices, judgments, and other negativity. This mental voice is often unkind, belittling, fearful, self-doubting, judgmental, complaining, confused, and unhelpful. It turns out that the voice in our head is not a very good guide to life, and yet we tend to accept what it says and do what it suggests. This voice, in fact, is the cause of human suffering. It fights life, rails against it, and is discontent and afraid. It is the voice of the false self--the ego--not the true self. Without these thoughts, we would live in peace within ourselves and in harmony with others. But you already know this, don't you? The programming to pay attention to and believe this aspect of the mind is very strong, and it takes not only seeing the truth about it, but also a practice, as in meditation, of not giving our attention to this mental voice before we gain enough distance from it to experience freedom and the joy and peace of our true self, or Essence.
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