How to Silence the Mind

Meditation Help | How to Silence the Mind During Meditation

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.

How to Silence the Mind

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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15 replies
  1. Jae
    Jae says:

    The explanation does not take into consideration that all humans are connected. We are all separate individuals and all one at the same time. Calming one’s mind to silence may be influenced or made impossible by his/her telepathic abilities to hear the thoughts of others.

  2. Neena
    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?

  3. dcsimo
    dcsimo says:

    Great article. I find it really interesting that a lot of the concepts from meditation such as witnessing and mindfulness are finding their way into western psychotherapies. Therapies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and even CBT are borrowing heavily from eastern practices.

  4. Carol E. McMahon, Ph.D.
    Carol E. McMahon, Ph.D. says:

    A very useful how-to-meditate book has just appeared(PRESS RELEASE follows). The book is being made available at no cost to meditation retreat centers world wide. Retreat center recommendations are welcome.

    Contact Carol at


    Research Psychologist Proposes Solution to Meditation’s Perennial Problem of Wandering Minds

    In Carol E. McMahon’s Straight Line Meditation, the goal is harnessed attention for fail-proof meditation

    COLDEN, N.Y., March 18, 2009 – Straight Line Meditation: How to Restore Awareness and Why You Need To by Carol E. McMahon with martial arts master Deac Cataldo, introduces a feedback meditation method, a fix for the wandering mind.

    Meditation requires attention, says McMahon, but attention is hard to hold on to. Meditation, she says, needs a way to monitor attention, a way to see what you are doing. Her feedback method provides it. In this method attention is focused on the bull’s eye of a disc. Attention holds the eyes still, keeping the image in the same place on the eye’s retina, using up photo-pigment (as in exposing photographic film), and creating visual distortion in the form of light. The light is feedback. By seeing the light, explains McMahon, you literally attend to your attention. Instead of drifting and dreaming, feedback lets you mind your mind. The light of enlightenment is explained as “receptor fatigue.” Put to use as feedback it harnesses attention, stops the wandering, and guides you straight to the goal.

    Meditation’s goal, according to McMahon, is awareness. Low awareness, she argues, is a universal problem that keeps us from happiness. Self-tests for measuring awareness are included in this step by step guide. Full awareness, McMahon explains, is nothing less than highest enlightenment.

    Master Deac Cataldo is the sixth and only living Master in his martial arts lineage. He contributes to the book his tradition’s wisdom, passed down through centuries by word of mouth in face to face teachings, a wisdom source now made available to readers.

    For more information or to request a free review copy, members of the press can contact the author at Straight Line Meditation is available for sale online at,, and through additional wholesale and retail channels worldwide.

    About the Author
    As a National Science Foundation Trainee, Carol McMahon earned a doctorate in psychology from Penn State University. Her research has been supported by government and private foundation grants, and she has published widely in professional journals, including the American Journal of Psychology, Psychological Medicine and Medical Hypotheses. She holds a fifth degree black belt in Karate, and is also the author of Where Medicine Fails.


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