The voice in your head can either empower or tear you down, and it can sometimes feel like you’re fighting a battle with your brain. While some people actually don’t have an internal monologue, most people have some self-talk going on inside their head during the day. New research reveals that humans have, on average, around 6,000 thoughts per day. Apparently, the voice in our head stays quite busy!
Some experts estimate that around 80% of our thoughts are harmful, and 95% are repetitive. With that said, we need to use our brains in order to solve problems and complete daily tasks, so it wouldn’t serve us to silence our thoughts completely. However, figuring out how to eliminate or reduce our negative, repetitive thoughts would improve our lives and give us a better outlook. So, how do we go about doing this?
We will give you a few ideas, backed by science, that will allow you to cut through the static in your mind.
Here’s how to quiet the voice in your head for good:
Understand that you are not your thoughts.
Just like everything else in existence, thoughts are simply energy vibrating at a particular frequency. Thoughts are representations of matter, and everything you see around you started as an idea. What we think, therefore, can shape reality and actually transform how we perceive things. Science reveals that many different realities exist at any given time based on the person observing it.
With that mind-blowing piece of information, you can see why two people may perceive an event or object differently, even though they’re looking at the same thing. However, some advanced yogis have found a way to transcend the mind altogether and go beyond all these different realities to experience higher consciousness. How do they do this? By meditating.
Meditation allows you to quiet the voice in your head and unite your soul with superconsciousness, or universal intelligence. Meditation is a form of yoga, and yoga actually means “union with the soul.” Our minds often vacillate from one idea or stimuli to the next, and we can’t accomplish anything like this or even figure out what to achieve. We alternate between different thoughts and emotions and can’t see reality clearly.
However, when you practice meditation, you slowly start to witness your monkey mind becoming more natural to control. Your worries and constant mental chatter begin to dissipate, and you actually connect with your soul and higher consciousness. We have such a limited perception of reality when we experience it through our senses. But, by expanding our knowledge beyond our mind and body, we start to understand that we are much more than just our thoughts.
We are consciousness experiencing itself as a human being.
If you want to begin a meditation practice, start with a few minutes per day until your mind and body get used to being still. Then, once you’ve gotten comfortable with it, try to meditate for 15-30 minutes each day, preferably in the night or morning. Make sure you choose a quiet area of your home and focus on your Breathing.
Try to focus only on the task at hand.
Many times, our monkey mind shifts from one thought to the next, and we don’t actually give our full attention to what we’re doing. However, you can train your mind to remain in the present moment so you can feel more peaceful. You’ll notice much better mental clarity and productivity when you focus entirely on the task at hand.
Shockingly, a 2010 study performed by two Harvard psychologists found that people spend around 47% of their time awake thinking of something other than what’s going on. In other words, they spend almost half their time thinking about what they’re not doing. This makes for a miserable, scattered mind that doesn’t know what it wants.
To correct this, try single-tasking instead of multitasking, which doesn’t even exist anyway. Multitasking confuses our brains since we’re essentially switching quickly between one task and another, but accomplishing much less. With single-tasking, you’ll finish work faster and do a better job since you won’t have as much to think about at one time. Doesn’t this make so much sense?
While this won’t quiet the voice in your head completely, it will significantly help with feeling frazzled or overwhelmed by your thoughts. Not to mention, you might get done with work or school assignments faster if you practice giving your full attention to whatever you’re doing.
Practice breathing techniques.
Our minds can get the best of us sometimes, especially when we have a lot on our plate. If it feels like you can’t keep your head above water lately, try some breathing techniques to help you feel more peaceful. Here are a few to start with:
Before beginning this exercise, take a few deep breaths to let out any frustrations or worries about your day. If you feel anxious or upset, your Breathing will probably be shallow and fast, so the exercise works best if you can slow it down a little. Once you’ve done this, practice these five steps, which gives the technique its name:
5: Acknowledge FIVE things you can see in your environment. Even if it’s something small, like a blade of grass or a bug on the wall, take note of your surroundings.
4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can physically touch near you. Perhaps you have a cup of coffee at your desk or a book on your nightstand. Then feel four things near you to connect you to the present moment.
3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. Focus on sounds outside your body, such as the coffee brewing in your coffeepot, the wind blowing in the trees, or someone turning the pages of a book.
2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Hopefully, you can focus on pleasant smells in your environment, such as a field of wildflowers or dinner cooking on the stove. If you need to, walk toward these smells and take a second to breathe them in.
1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. If you have a snack near you or a cup of coffee, take the time to experience the flavors. This will reconnect you to your body if you feel anxious or stressed.
The idea of this exercise is to reconnect you to the present moment and help alleviate anxious or intrusive thoughts. Noticing stimuli in your immediate environment is a form of mindfulness, and this will keep your mind peaceful when you feel overly stressed or upset.
If you want to feel more peaceful, try this breathing technique developed by Dr. Andrew Weil to help you relax your mind. You can practice this either lying down or sitting up, but make sure to have good posture if you choose an upright position. First, rest the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your two front teeth. Keep your tongue here throughout the exercise, even when you exhale. It may take some practice, but this step is essential.
In one breath cycle, follow these steps:
- First, move your lips apart and make a whooshing sound as you exhale.
- Then, close your lips, inhaling through your nose as you count to four silently.
- Then, hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds, once again making the whooshing sound.
Practice this for four cycles of breath to start. Once again, the idea behind this exercise is to focus on the breath, so you don’t replay distressing events in your head. It takes work to master the monkey mind, but it can be done with consistent practice.
In today’s demanding, fast-paced environment, keeping on top of our mental health often gets put on the back burner. However, it makes life much more comfortable and more fulfilling if the mind remains calm and under control. It takes practice, but doing things such as breathing techniques, meditation, and focusing your full attention on the task at hand can make a huge difference. We all want to feel more peaceful, and luckily, we can achieve this state by making a few adjustments.
Keep in mind that our brains tell our bodies what to do, so you have an immense amount of power within you. You have to learn how to wield it so you can master your thoughts and not allow them to control you. Many people struggle with getting their minds to calm down, feeling overwhelmed with life’s constant pressures. However, you have to remember that no one else but you get to direct your life.
If you can win the ultimate battle, the one with your mind, then you can overcome anything life throws your way.