What do you do when your mind gets tired and needs some rest?
If your answer is you watch tv, listen to music, read a book, or something similar then let me ask you one more question : What do you do when your body gets tired and needs some rest?
Do you run for a mile, or go to the gym for exercise?
You don’t. Right?
What you do instead is take some rest, lie down and let your body become fully inactive. By becoming inactive your body gets relaxed.
Then, if you need to make your body inactive to make it relax, then why don’t you do the same to your mind when it gets tired.
Instead of watching tv, listening to music, reading books, and doing other activities that only make your mind work, why don’t you let your mind slow down and become inactive.
Just like all other parts of your body, your mind too gets tired and needs proper rest in order to function at its peak performance.
If you keep stretching your mind all day, it won’t have any energy left in it to do more work. But if you give it some rest and let it completely relax, then it will be ready, and even enthusiastic, to do more work again.
So let’s talk about what it means to relax your mind.
Relaxing your mind doesn’t mean that you become dull or ignorant. It only means to let it rest, until your mind returns to its natural peaceful state.
To relax your mind, first you need to stop all its activities. Once the activities of your mind stop, your mind becomes clear. The key to resting your mind is to let it stay in this clear state for as long as possible.
Now you may ask how can you stop using your mind. Is it even possible to do so?
The answer is YES, it’s possible. Let’s see how.
Your mind is nothing but just another tool in your body. To relax your mind you have to learn to use it like a tool. When you work with a tool, you pick it up, use it, then put it back. Similarly, when you work with your mind, you alert it to become ready, use it, and then make it inactive again.
At the start, you may find it difficult to use your mind as a tool because it’s not as easy to control your mind as it is to control other parts of your body, say your eyes. When you want to relax your eyes, your mind simply orders it to shut down, and your eyes close. To make your mind obey your orders, you need to practice meditation and learn to live with mindfulness. You can learn more about mindfulness here and here.
If you learn to live with mindfulness you can control your mind, and start it or shut it down whenever you want, just like you control other parts of your body.
For now, let’s see step-by-step, how we can relax our mind using meditation when it gets tired.
The next time your mind gets tired, follow the below steps to give it a good dose of rest. Take your time to read this. There is no hurry.
First, make your body totally relaxed. In order for the mind to relax, the body too needs to relax. You can relax your body by sitting comfortably on your bed or you can lie down if you want. Let your body fully rest for a few minutes before you proceed ahead.
Once your body seems relaxed, try to observe what’s going on inside your body. Try to feel the state of quietness within you.
Now, take slow breaths and direct your attention towards them. When I say to direct your attention to your breath I only want you to observe it. Don’t force your attention to your breath and don’t try to concentrate too much on it, but keep yourself fully relaxed and calm and simply observe.
After few minutes the only object of your attention should be your breath. To make this task easy, think as if your breath is the only object that exists in the universe at this moment.
It also helps if you take deep breaths.
And if any thought comes to your mind, as they surely will, let them come and go on their own; don’t participate in them. Whenever you find your mind wandering away, just bring it back to focus on your breath. Again, don’t force your mind too much, but bring back your focus on your breath gently and slowly.
The key to doing this exercise is to remember to act like and observer and not as a participant.
Keep breathing more and more, and continue to observe your breath.
Do this for five minutes, and you’ll start to feel peace inside you. Your body, as well as your mind, will become quiet and peaceful. This happens because while you do this exercise, you are not stuffing your mind with any new thoughts; instead you are making it focus on only one object that it already knows, your breath.
As you keep practicing this method, you’ll start getting better at it. In the beginning you’ll find it difficult to keep your focus on your breath, and it’ll take you time to relax your mind fully. But with more and more practice, the time you need to relax your mind will keep reducing, and one day you’ll be able to relax your mind the moment you want to do so.
And then with enough practice and experience behind you, you’ll reach a state of no thought, where even thoughts cease to exist. It’s this state that you want your mind to be in, so that your mind itself becomes the object of attention.
In this state, the mind stops all its activities and instead of the observer becomes the observed.
As thoughts stop coming to your mind, a deep sense of peace arises in you. This state is even more peaceful than the earlier states of your mind. The longer you stay in this peaceful state, the more control you’ll gain over your body and mind when you wake up.
And one day, you’ll also start to see things and feel such experiences inside you that even your mind is not capable of doing. But that’s something you don’t need to worry about now. We’ll discuss about those deeper states of meditation some other time.
For now, just follow the above simple exercise whenever you want to relax your mind. You will not only find that this method works, but also that it’s way better than every other method you have tried to relax your mind. And if you face any problems when you do so, you know how to reach me. I am always ready to help others on their path of peaceful living and mindfulness.
Thank you for your time.