Inner chatter. You know what that is, right?
If you’re not quite sure, just pause for a moment, close your eyes and listen.
Here’s what the last ten seconds sounded like for me.
“You gotta finish this blog for your team. Hurry up. You don’t have time to sit here like this.”
“Oh, crap, I didn’t pay the garbage bill and now they won’t pick it up this week.”
“The sun is shining outside. Can’t you just go lay down and soak it up?”
“That spot in the middle of my shoulder blade is tight again… another day of a cramped back…”
And on and on and on.
It never stops for me.
Hardly a night goes by without a 3am visit to the chatterbox. I usually resort to covering my head with a pillow just to try and fall back to sleep.
But wait? I thought this blog was about the secret to eliminate the chatter of the mind! And now you’re telling me that it never stops for you??
That is correct, and that’s how I’m able to share this secret with you.
The secret is that eliminating inner chatter is the WRONG goal.
Ten second experiment…
Try this exercise. Close your eyes and try not to think of anything. Just for ten seconds. Do it right now.
Did your inner chatter sound anything like: “Ok, I’m not going to think of anything. (but that thought is something…)(and that thought is something too…) ARRRGGGHHH. I give up.”
Maybe you pulled off a few seconds of quiet before you noticed it was quiet (which is thinking of something…)
My point is that if you decide to seek silence in your mind, you will always end up frustrated.
The nature of the mind is to have chatter.
The mind needs something to think about.
Much like the nature of the ocean is to have waves. Waves are a vital part of the cleansing of the earth. We can’t do without waves.
There might be days when the waves are gentle, but imagine how frustrated you would be if every time you went to the ocean you expected it to behave like a lake.
And yet this is what we do with our mind.
We think that we are the only one who has way too much crazy going on up there. We think we are the only one who can’t shut it off.
We think we are the only person bingeing on Netflix all night cause we are trying to avoid thinking of something painful, or scary, or unknown, or uncomfortable.
The secret to conquering the chatter of the mind is to change our strategy.
Ten years ago my inner life was so overloaded with chaos, I was afraid I would crack. My marriage was suffering. My children would try and talk to me, but I would only half hear what they were saying. Stress was tearing me apart at the seams. Cravings ruled my emotions. I was genuinely afraid of myself.
Then my teacher appeared.
I had a “coincidental” meeting with one of the best meditation teachers on the planet. Just being in his presence, I knew he had something that I wanted.
A few weeks later he was sitting in my living room teaching me to meditate.
Now, you have to understand, this guy worked with The Beatles, Micheal Jackson, Anthony Hopkins… and the list goes on and on over 30 years. If ever there was a guru, it was my teacher.
So you can imagine my shock at his answer to my question:
What is the secret to eliminate the chatter of the mind?
“I’ve never gotten rid of the chatter in my mind.” He answered.
“In fact, at one point in my life, I sat next to a lake for almost 2 years and pretty much all I did was meditate, and my mind never got quiet.”
My hopes of a pardon from the prison of my mind were dashed. I had just spent $6,000 to learn that I would never be able to make thought go away.
“BUT THAT’S NOT THE GOAL…”
“The goal is to release stress from the nervous system and get to the stillness within. We do that by giving the mind something to do with all of that chatter. When we give the mind something to play with, our body goes into its natural resting state, and we experience inner peace.”