Mindfulness Exercises to Silence Mental Chatter
Stop Talking Negatively About Yourself
We all have an inner voice or nagging mind chatter that serves zero purpose in our lives. We give the voice so much control that it navigates our decisions, moods, and circumstances. The voice is not you, so where does it come from?
It’s constantly talking.
This inner voice has been in our mental background for so long that we are not even aware of its presence. It has become part of us, like a parasite. It doesn’t have to be this way as you can break free from the control this neurotic voice has in your life. The first step is to fully recognize this voice [and everyone has one] so you can silence the mental chaos.
You can’t stop something if you can’t acknowledge it.
What is the “inner voice?"
Let's start by saying it’s not Jiminy Cricket leading you to make good decisions in your life. Far from it! The voice is reckless and messes things up for you far more than it helps fix your circumstances. Here’s a quick exercise:
Sit quietly [you can close your eyes, but you don’t have to].
Without making a sound, mentally say:
I like blue cats.
This is dumb.
I said it was a quick exercise!
That voice that said “hello, I like blue cats. This is dumb”--well, that’s the inner voice or mental chatter that is constantly playing on repeat in your head. That voice has something to say about everything that you have experienced, are experiencing, or anticipating.
It’s highly opinionated and it loves to argue. It’s like there’s another person in there with you--like a rambling diva that you would never go to for advice, yet you always get so involved when the voice talks. You interact without hesitation to the madness that is mistaken as an internal guide.
You get angry, hurt, and resentful by things the voice says. In a matter of seconds, that voice can completely destroy a great day or even a meaningful relationship.
The Voice is a Jerk
The inner voice makes you feel busy while accomplishing nothing. It thinks everything and everyone requires some kind of evaluation. It’s completely indecisive and can flip flop in a matter of seconds from one opinion to the next.
It convinces you that you embarrassed yourself, that people don’t care about you or your ideas, or that someone is angry at you. It's often wrong and not apologetic. It also tells you that you’re old, fat, stupid, slow, or lazy. It also puts down other people. It’s like an abusive relationship that you can’t escape because this voice can follow you--in bed, doing the dishes, in the shower, on the toilet. There is no escape unless you learn to control the voice through mindful action.
Mindfulness is like any form of exercise meaning it must be practiced daily to be effective. Once you’re mindful of the voice, you’ll become better at recognizing it and not attaching yourself to the thoughts that lead to a downward spiral.
Silence the Mind Exercise
Set a timer for 60 seconds. Do not count for 60 seconds because counting is performed by the inner voice that we’re trying to stop during this exercise.
Take deep breaths in through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Do NOT count the breaths. Just sit in silence for 60 seconds while breathing in and out.
If the voice even makes one statement: this is easy...I’m doing it.... Okay… Uhhh….In and out...Nice...boring…Quiet... Restart the 60 second timer.
Do not stop the exercise until you’ve successfully gone a full 60 seconds without a peep from your inner diva. Just a tip-- if you have to ask yourself…”was that the voice?”, the answer is yes. Restart the 60 seconds.
Michael Singer does an amazing job of discussing this voice, which he refers to as “the inner roommate” in Untethered Soul. Hopefully this article helps you recognize the voice so you can live a more peaceful life without the nonsensical noise, but for a more thorough explanation, I highly recommend reading Untethered Soul.