What Does It Mean to Quiet the Mind?

Inner peace and quieting the mind is something I’ve striven for, off and on admittedly, for years now. I’ve studied works that are religious, spiritual, philosophical, and psychological in nature and I’ve always strove for knowledge of the subject. I think that’s where I’ve been going wrong. Instead of having knowledge of inner peace I should be striving to cultivate it, to experience it. One can read all the descriptions of the color red in the world but until you see it, you’ll never understand it or experience it. That is my mistake. I am, by no means, a master or expert on this subject. These are simply the surface of my notions and thoughts on the matter.

Now, this is a vast and complex topic so in this post I only mean to touch lightly upon it so that I may dive further into it in the future. Quieting the mind is living in the moment, as zen masters would say. It is letting go of anxieties and worries, letting go of thoughts of what might be, what were, and only focusing on what is. It is calmness. It is serenity. It is peace.

Think of a creek in the wilderness. See it trickling by, perfectly clear with reflections of the trees, sunlight, and birds flying overhead bouncing off of its surface playfully. The stones and sand at the bottom are perfectly visible. Fish dart here and there, crayfish scamper from stone to stone in the soft current. But someone has to cross this small river and when they do, the dislodge stones and sand and mud raises to cloud the creek. Does the creek stop and let itself remain clouded or does it wash away the mud? Say you are the creek, do you allow the passerby to remain within, stomping around, or do you let them move on and allow yourself to become clear again?

This passerby is negative thought, it is worry, it is ego. Quieting the mind means letting go, living in the moment, and allowing those cloudy thoughts to wash away after they occur. You don’t have to be perfect here, you’re not a Buddha. We’re not all creeks of the same size, we’re not even all creeks.


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