How to Quiet a Busy Mind

By Angie Parris-Raney, LMT, Chopra Center Certified

Even as a healing professional, I continue to seek ways to restore balance and harmony.
Looking back, I was the person who knew meditation was a good thing, yet disregarded it as something only for “peaceful” people. I’m a physical gal who likes to hike, run, ski, camp, and more. In my mind, meditation wasn’t anything I could possibly do. I can’t sit still. My brain has too many thoughts. My version of meditation is through activity. And sometimes, that’s OK. There is something to be said about getting into "the zone." It is, in fact, a kind of meditation and healing of its own. But it’s not the same.
Two years ago, however, a well-respected mentor asked me the question, “What is it you’re not doing for yourself?” When I thought deeply about it, I decided I didn’t have enough time in my life to simply be. I wasn’t creating the space and time to go within. What a primal thing to crave! And so the journey and dedication to wholeness began. But how to quiet my busy mind? I looked to the teachings of the Chopra Center.

Vibrations for Healing

The use of sound is a powerful tool to connect with our nervous system. Just like listening to music or the healing sounds of nature can nourish us, so does repeating a mantra with a certain tone and vibration. Whether you repeat the mantra inside your mind as a thought or out loud as in song, with the right sounds, you can align yourself with the vibrations that foster healing.
The use of mantras is a powerful tool to redirect the mind to one focus. It doesn’t mean the mind won’t stray to other thoughts, but now you have a tool to come back to. Like other vibrations or sounds, you slowly begin to tune in to, feel, and flow with the sound. You almost become it. And just like a body of water with powerful waves, the thoughts begin to settle into tiny ripples, then stillness. Now, you can settle into a space of just being. Like sleep, this quiet is the space for healing.

Mantra Journey

Through the journey, this is what I’ve learned to be true:
1. It’s called a meditation practice for a reason. The very name of it implies one must practice. And for that, I’ve indeed experienced a cumulative effect of a daily practice. For example, instead of reacting to circumstances, I can now witness my thoughts and emotions rather than identifying with them. It creates a sense of centeredness. I’m not always successful, but again, it’s a practice.  
2. Start where you are. If you only have three minutes a day, then commit to three minutes a day. See how that feels after 21 days. Then, after 60 days, you might discover, as I did, that it’s somewhat akin to going to the gym—three minutes turns into 10 minutes or 20 minutes or more. Then, your body-mind starts to crave it. And when you experience the benefits from your practice, it motivates you to continue.   
3. Tuning into your breath will provide you with information if you stop to observe it. Is it fast? Is it slow? Can you breathe deep or is it shallow? How do you feel when you tune into your breath? As the Chopra Center has taught me, tuning into your breath puts you exactly in the present moment. Why? Because you cannot breathe in the past and you cannot breathe in the future. You can only breathe in the now.
4. Let go of judgment. This is your safe space for yourself. Give yourself permission to simply be. Enjoy yourself and enjoy the process.
Take it from someone who thought it impossible to sit still and be quiet with oneself. Using natural sounds, mantra, breath, or whatever vibration you choose can be a powerful tool to overcome a busy mind and facilitate self-healing.  

Angie Parris-Raney, LMT, has been practicing massage therapy and bodywork in Colorado since 2001. She is certified through the Chopra Center as a meditation teacher and has expanded her practice to serve children and families living in poverty in Peru through her nonprofit, Project Inti.