This is a 1600 word piece and about a 6 minute read. Last edited: February 2022.
This is a crossover with the Weapons Grade (red pill) project.
For many people, silencing mental chatter is one of those impossible tasks. Well the good news is that it’s actually quite simple to do, once you become aware of the nuts and bolts of it all. Like everything else in my playbook, it doesn’t take a lot of effort. If it did, I for one wouldn’t be doing it. I’m just not built that way. Career spiritual types will be spit-roasting in their own amber at that statement, because as with all of life’s other simple things, it’s hard to monetise.
In the Weapons Grade piece called Dharamshala Night Fever, I introduce the concept of the fire triangle, and alchemically transform it into something esoterically useful. Silencing the mind requires the very same approach, e.g. it’s based on the same principles that are discussed there. This is another, but more expansive take on that.
Four Easy Steps
1 Study the fire triangle. This is the standard arrangement that’s used to teach the principles of fire fighting. If you isolate or remove any of the three components, you halt the reaction, and thus extinguish the fire. Things are rarely so binary for the big blazes however, so in reality some of the components get isolated and thus only some of the fire is extinguished. Anyway, the end result is a contained and manageable fire at worst, or dying embers at best.
You may wonder what on earth this has to do with silencing your mind? Well, it’s a principle, and principles tend to be applicable to many things. Approaching problems using a well-known toolkit is a good start in actually solving them. In this case though, the terms heat, oxygen and fuel need to be transformed into the context of the problem.
2 Identify the core elements of the problem at hand. It doesn’t have to fit within the triangle diagram, but it does need to fit the concept. In other words, you don’t have to identify three things that create a given problem. It could be two, or one hundred. The core principle is about isolating something to stop something else from happening. Once you know what that something is, you’re on the road to success. The original fire triangle relates three independent things, however it’s okay if that’s not directly the case, which is how the following plays out.
What are the components? Well it’s not an exact science, and you might think of a different list to me. I’m going to identify three things in keeping with the triangle structure:
Sounds familiar? I hope so. These form a logical process of cause and effect, meaning it’s sequential and unlike the classic fire triangle. Reaping the rewards of the fire triangle approach doesn’t have to be a binary thing. It doesn’t matter what mix you put in the muffin maker; you’ll still get muffins.
By way of an explanation: thoughts can lead to the formation of words; and words can lead to the formation of sentences. This is nuanced, in that before mastering this process, thoughts appear to create words, and words sentences, whereas post-process, thoughts are clearly independent from words and words don’t result in sentences. Entirely within the context here, sentences equate with actions, because words and sentences follow on from one another as cause and effect. It’s the formation of sentences that perpetuates the reaction, the mental chatter and that’s the cycle which needs to be interrupted. Therefore, removing any of the three components will disrupt the process.
3 What to isolate and how? Isolating thoughts seems the logical choice, but thoughts aren’t the sole driver, as much as they seem to be. Besides, the whole point when beginning this process is that thoughts can’t be isolated.
Next up are the words. They are the linchpin, and there’s a good reason why: the mind struggles to complete a sentence once you’ve discarded the current word. That is, refrain from think-speaking it. The mind simply halts, and then thrashes about in panic, until it learns better decorum. This is where the main technique of how-to-do-it kicks in.
4 The process of letting go. Initially, this requires a great deal of effort, involving mindfulness and concentration. In time it becomes second nature, like breathing. I’m not exaggerating.
- You need to mentally relax and let go. This means you don’t police yourself whilst remaining self-aware. If you do, you’ll create more noise. When you witness yourself thinking words, don’t try to block or contain them. It’s the equivalent of throwing fuel on the fire if you do; you’re adding energy to the equation. It’ll just end up with you telling yourself that you shouldn’t be talking…
It’s a conditioned physical reaction to exert a force over something in order to control it. The inner realm (usually) requires the opposite approach. In this case, you don’t block the word, you release it by not completing it. There’s a giant qualitative difference. In other words, you take the energy out of the equation, which is one of the principles behind the fire triangle.
- Dropping the completion of a word is difficult at first. The mind loves to complete words, amongst other things. You’ll struggle, but the key is not to be the slightest bit concerned about it. In a sense, don’t draw attention to the words that you’re monitoring. Self-kindness works wonders; you’re not being measured or tested. The mind kicks back like a naughty child, and things begin to speed up in a desperate attempt to find more words to plug the gap and keep the reaction going. It’s an interesting experience. You’ll form word-sounds inside your mind that’ll be more akin to a buzzing mosquito. And it keeps getting faster, until the words are finally exhausted.
- Words will flare up from time to time, like embers catching fire. Mindfulness starves them of the next-word oxygen they need to survive. It’s like ‘mental popcorn’ popping here and there. The more you release the words, the quicker the heat dials down. Once you’ve reached this far, you’ll discover something else too: you don’t need words to think; thinking is instantaneous; and remembering (those) thoughts is now a lot trickier than it used to be. Don’t worry, it’s not that you’re doomed to be wordless forevermore; you choose to be wordless when it suits.
It’s possible that you’ll hit a point where your mental background noise switches off. You’ll know when that happens because until it does, you wouldn’t have known it was there to begin with. Imagine a pilot has lived his entire life on a spaceship. The background drone of the engines is so pervasive that he can’t hear them, because that’s the sound of ‘silence’. The spaceship lands on a new world, the engines shut off and the pilot experiences silence for the first time. Not only that, he realises just how exhausting that noise was before.
Look at things, like a tree or a flower in a garden, and experience it without falling into mental dialogue. The keys are to keep thinking, remain present, and most importantly of all: feel the moment. Without that, it’ll be a largely mechanical experience. ‘We the people’ are something far greater than the biological robots science is comfortable with. But we’ve got to want it. This method is something I strongly recommend practising and playing about with. If you’re able to experience that flip between mechanical and emotional observation, it’s analogous to the 3d and 4d states I talk about in other Weapons Grade pieces. Unless you’re a fully-caped flying yogi though, it’s not literally that, because that’d be more of an implosion experience.
When thinking-without-words, random ‘soft’ words trigger just below the usual thought-word surface. That’s not a concern as long as you allow them to release, and don’t jump on their thought-trains. Those ‘soft’ words are easily managed by-products of a mind that’s been trained to form them. Hyperactivity and trauma will create a lot of froth, so be gentle with yourself should you fall into that category. The more adept you become, the weaker their impact.
You’ll notice that you already know what the sentences teeing themselves up will ‘say’ before you’ve walked them through; that is, you are in a state of knowledge. The words are essentially yesterday’s fashion and a really slow way of being. It’s like being at the head of a bucket-brigade line, and you fill the first bucket with a certain colour of water. However, it’s not until that water finally reaches the end bucket that you remark what colour it is. Why? Yet that’s what we’re trained to do, and it’s very hard to stop.
Having a silent mind doesn’t have to be a binary thing. Few things in life are binary, even though we default to such simplistic (and sometimes harmful) thinking. Silence is merely a threshold to be crossed. The above provides a set of tools to get there. It’s up to you if you wish to apply them. Good luck.