Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users’ questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: I need help. How do I quiet my mind when meditating? I have been trying for a long time without any success. Thank you for all the wonderful contributions you make and share with us.
— Virginia S., Cape Town, South Africa
Thank you for the kind words. In meditation, any attempt to quiet the mind using force won’t work. The everyday mind is full of thoughts, feelings, sensations, worries, daydreams and fantasies. But at a deeper level, the mind begins in silence. Finding that level deeper than thought is the essence of meditation.
Here are some clues about how to make your meditation work:
Have no expectations. Sometimes the mind is too active to settle down. Sometimes it settles down immediately. Sometimes it goes quiet, but the person doesn’t notice. Anything can happen.
Be easy with yourself. Meditation isn’t about getting it right or wrong. It’s about letting your mind find its true nature.
Don’t stick with meditation techniques that aren’t leading to inner silence. Unless you transcend the everyday mind, you aren’t truly meditating. Find a technique that works more or less automatically. In India, there are many kinds of mantra meditation, for example. Or simply follow the in and out of your breathing, not paying attention to your thoughts at all. The mind wants to find its source in silence. Give it a chance by letting go.
Make sure you are alone in a quiet place to meditate. Unplug the phone. Make sure no one is going to disturb you.
Really be there. If your attention is somewhere else, thinking about your next appointment, errand or meal, of course you won’t find silence. To meditate, your intention must be clear and free of other obligations.