Meditation Help | How to Silence the Mind During Meditation

Posted in Zen Buddhism by Anmol Mehta

Helpful Meditation Tips

Zen Meditation Technique Help

(PS: Inadvertently only a summary of this article went out to those of you who subscribe to my posts via email.  Rest assured that was unintentional and future articles will be emailed to you in full as before.  Thanks for being a subscriber :-).

One of the most common questions beginner’s have when they start any kind of silent meditation is what to do with their thoughts.  Often this can lead to frustration or confusion as beginners may feel that they are not doing their meditation correctly or are not succeeding with their technique.  This is primarily because they feel they are not achieving the "enlightened" state of a silent, empty mind.  To help you understand how to deal with thoughts during meditation, I found the following excerpt on Zen Meditation (Zazen) by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki very helpful.

From:         Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Author:       Shunryu Suzuki
Chapter:     Mind Waves – Pages 34 – 35
Publisher:   Weatherhill

Meditation Help from Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki:

When you are practicing Zazen (Zen Meditation Technique / Breath Awareness Meditation), do not try to stop your thinking.  Let it stop by itself.  If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out.  It will not stay long.  When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it.  Do not be bothered by anything.  It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer.  In five or at most ten minutes, your mind will be completely serene and clam.  At that time your breathing will become quite slow and your pulse will become a little faster.

It will take a long time before you find your calm, serene mind in your practice.  Many sensations come, many thoughts or images arise, but they are just waves of your own mind.  Nothing comes from outside your mind.  Usually we think of our mind as receiving impressions and experiences from outside, but that is not a true understanding of our mind.  The true understanding is that the mind includes everything; when you think something comes from outside it means only that something appears in your mind.  Nothing outside yourself can cause any trouble.  You yourself make the waves in your mind.  If you leave your mind as it is, it will become calm.  This mind is called the Big Mind.

Meditation Help | Analysis of Mind Waves:

There are many wonderful and helpful meditation insights in the above excerpt, which are very practical in nature and I want to highlight and discuss some of these below.

1. Thinking Stops by Itself:

This is a very important aspect of meditation to understand.  The mind has to stop itself.  The way of bringing about this cessation that Master Suzuki is referring to above, is by simple witnessing.  Allowing the thoughts and feelings to run their course and finish.  This is truly the art of observation, and is the heart of meditation practice.  For those more interested in this topic, you can head over to the article, How to Attain Enlightenment, where I go into this topic in more details.

2. Remain Beyond the Drama of Life:

This helpful meditation hint, is actually indicating how to live your life.  Unfortunately, it is of course easy to say, but hard to do.  To not be bothered by anything is the ultimate freedom, but how many of us can be Ok, with anything and everything that life throws at us?  Problems with health, finances, relationships, children, jobs, are just of few of the challenges we have to face in life.  I have discussed this fascinating Zen view of enlightenment in the article Zen Definition of Enlightenment, for those who want to read more about it.

3. Non-Duality and the Zen concept of Big Mind:

At the end of the excerpt above, Master Suzuki gives us a helpful meditation term which defines enlightenment from a Zen perspective.  He calls it Big Mind.  He also describes this Big Mind, as the all inclusive mind, where everything is understood as being within the mind, and nothing lies outside of it.  For the students of Advaita Vedanta, this is will sound an awful lot like the definition of the Big Self, and it should, because it is really referring to the same thing.  In the article Understanding Non-Duality, Hinduism & Buddhism I discuss this common thread of these great religions in more details.

For those interested in trying to get a taste of this Big Mind, you may wish to purchase a guided meditation MP3 that I created for this purpose.  You can get more detail on that here:  Consciousness Expanding Guided Meditation MP3.

Finally you can get more helpful meditation tips in the article, Tips & Tools for Daily Meditation Practice.

Sit Well!


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  4. Silent Mind Meditation Program Introduction: Chapter 1
  5. Understanding Zen Meditation – Effortless Effort in Zen Teachings

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14 Responses to “Meditation Help | How to Silence the Mind During Meditation”

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  1. 14
    Rajesh Says:

    Very nice it’s helpful for meditation and remove so many obstacles… Thanks

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    juliette Says:

    great tips. I have been meditating but usually give up and keep repeating the cycle. I think that purchasing meditative products would help. here is a link to one that is online.

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  5. 10
    Neena Says:

    Hi Anmol, just subscribed to your newsletters and articles. Could you please email Zen Meditation (Zazen) by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki, I mean teh full article?

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    Roger Says:

    Can one listen to another chant (Om for instance) to aid in one’s meditation?

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    Anmol Mehta Says:

    Hi Dcsimo,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Glad to see meditation being embraced by different modalities for sure.


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