The Mental Noise and How to Overcome It
By Remez Sasson
Mental noise is the constant chatter of the mind that never stops. It is the inner conversation or inner monologue that goes on constantly in the mind.
It is possible that you are not always unaware of this mental noise, because it has become a deeply embedded habit, and is considered as a natural and inseparable part of life.
This mental noise is like a background noise that never ceases, from the moment of waking up in the morning, to the moment of falling asleep at night. Often, it even prevents you from falling asleep. It is a sort of inner voice that constantly analyzes everything about your life, circumstances, and the people you meet. It is a voice in the head that just keeps talking and talking!
The mind also repeats the same thoughts over and over again, like in a loop, like a record that got stuck. If these are a positive thought that's fine. However, too often, these are negative thoughts that intensify stress, worry, anger or frustration. These are thoughts that you absolutely do not need.
Thinking is a useful activity required for solving problems, analyzing, comparing, studying, planning, etc, but too often, the mind roams where it wills, occupying the attention with trivial matters and unimportant, useless thinking that wastes your time and energy.
What is the mental noise and how to identify it:
- Thoughts that repeat themselves like a tape that keeps playing the same tune.
- Reliving negative past situations or visualizing fears over and over again.
- Dwelling on the past or fearing the future. This prevents us from enjoying the present. The past is gone, and the future is the product of our present thinking and actions. The only time that exists is now, the present moment.
- Compulsive inner monologue that disturbs our peace and makes the mind busy.
- Never being here. Always thinking on something else, instead of what we are doing now. If we always think on something else we never enjoy the moment.
- Constant analysis of our and other people's situations, reactions and behavior. Analyzing the past, the future, things we need or want to do, our day, yesterday and the distant past.
- Almost all involuntary thinking and daydreaming are some sort of mental noise. This is often a constant background noise, which often intrudes into foreground in the middle of everything we do.
Too often, this is tiring and exhausting, and makes us impractical and lazy. This constant mental chatter also makes us miss opportunities, due to insufficient attention to what is happening around us.
The mind is a useful tool, but it also needs to be controlled. Wouldn't it be great if you could achieve a state where you can think when you need to, like solving a problem or making a plan, and then after that just switch off the mind?
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Switching off the mind brings on a state of inner peace. It is a state sought by all spiritual traditions and teachings, and which is of great importance to both spiritual seekers and people who wish to improve their life.
Stop reading for a moment and see if you can stop your mental noise. Just stop thinking, watch your mind and notice what happens.
You will find you are thinking on stopping your thinking, which means that you are still thinking. After a few seconds you will probably forget that your objective was to watch your thoughts, and your mind will continue its incessant mental activity. This shows how restless the mind is, and how it lacks discipline
Sometimes, on rare occasions, you might experience a brief period of inner peace, without mental noise. This happens involuntarily, when your attention is completely absorbed in some interesting activity or when watching a beautiful and inspiring landscape or picture. At these times you get a short glimpse of inner peace.
Shutting down the mental noise voluntarily, when you wish to do so, is not achieved by reading books. This ability develops gradually, and over a long period of training the mind through concentration exercises and meditation.
Speaking of concentration, people often say that they meditate, but yet, cannot calm down their mind. If the concentration power is weak, and the mind easily wanders from one thought to another, how can one meditate? Sitting down to meditate, but letting the mind run where it wills, thinking and visualizing all kinds of things, is not meditation.
This is why it is so important to develop at least some degree of concentration ability, before starting to meditate.
After your power of concentration gets stronger, you will be able to meditate without words, mental images or thoughts. Then, the inner peace would gradually increase and deepen, first, while meditating, and then in your daily life, while working, reading, talking, etc.
In time, there would be less and less mental noise, until it stops.
This condition will not make you unable to think. On the contrary, when you need to think, you will be able think very clearly. Your mind will become more alert, focused and powerful. You will be able to switch your thinking on and off at will.
Most people, when thinking about a certain matter, seem unable to let go after reaching a conclusion or finding a solution. The mind seems to go on thinking on the same subject over and over again. It is like a broken record that keeps repeating the same tune. This is why it is important to learn to stop your thinking, when there is no need to think.
Shutting down the mental noise means inner peace. This results in saving a lot of mental energy and time wasted on thinking on matters that do not add anything to your life.