Why Stop Thinking?
First of all, why stop thinking? Many spiritual teachers talk of a state of no-mind where there is no thinking at all. This is supposed to be a very lucid state where your attention is solely in your senses and your own being. A greater wisdom than normal thinking arises from this. This is because thinking is often compulsive and disconnected from the real world; yet when we meditate we can connect to a deep sense of perspective and gain a ground of intelligence or “common sense” upon which to base our thinking.
Apart from gaining better clarity, when we stop thinking we are also brought closer to the sensations of the body. This allows us to feel an underlying sense of pleasure at mere existence which most miss and which actually makes pain more tolerable. When we stop thinking we reach a level of being where we are often much healthier and better adapted to life too, which reduces the suffering we go through.
How To Stop Thinking
Meditation is often recommended to stop thinking, as are zen exercises such as koans. These are very helpful. You can pick and choose the spiritual practise you want to incorporate into your daily life. If you are a beginner, however, probably the most powerful introduction into the path of spiritual refinement would be to to start up a daily meditation routine.
Recommendations about the length of time to meditate vary, though it’s usually best to think about starting with how ever many minutes a day you can do in a sustainable manner. 5 minutes, for instance, is fine. The key word here is sustainable – with a lot of self discipline many can meditate for an hour but if you can’t keep up the habit you won’t see long term results. Slow but steady is definitely better in this case, and as with weight training you will find that your ability to meditate for long periods steadily improves.
Mindfulness Meditation, the most basic meditation which goes by many names, involves observing the breath. Allow your attention to simply rest at the point where your breath enters the nostril, and observe as the breath moves in and out. Do not worry about how to stop thinking. If you realise you are thinking, be glad that you have realised, because that means that your consciousness has cleared again, and return to focusing on your breath.
If you scold yourself for thinking, stop it. The actual best way to stop thinking is to not resist it – but rather to focus on those things you would focus on if you were not thinking. In Mindfulness Meditation this is the breath. In the rest of your life this could be the sensations of the body, your feelings, your perceptions, and the real world.
The many different ways to stop thinking are too numerous to list here, so find some spiritual books and study them with an open mind. For beginners, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is highly recommended for learning how to stop thinking.
Learning how to stop thinking is a long quest, but a worthy one. With proper guidance and a regular spiritual practise, achievement may come faster than you expect.
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