Dhammabodhi wrote:In the course of my practice I've noticed that most of my thought processes become manifest with a "verbal" commentary in the mind. Of course this is not an earth-shattering revelation, everyone knows about this.
I was reading Ajahn Brahm's book "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" and he says that one must be able to stop this inner commentary in order to (begin to) gain deeper levels of concentration, in fact he proposes that breath-awareness should only be taken up once this has been achieved (if I understood correctly).
I've actually used breath meditation to calm and quiet discursive verbal thought. But this was after I discovered how to do so at will. So, I suppose that this may just be a peculiarity of Ajahn Brahm's own mental atmosphere.
But how does one go about achieving this? I'm kinda feeling frustrated on not being able to stop this inner speech even for a few minutes. If I just let things be, it totally overwhelms me and I lose even the tiny bit of mindfulness that I have.
There is probably more than one way to achieve this. The suggestions given in the Bhikkhu's YouTube talk make sense also. I think much depends upon one's own mental constitution and what the mind responds to. So, with that in mind, the method I used to first achieve this mental "silencing" of verbal thought was not a Buddhist method at all, but rather was suggested by Ramana Maharshi's method of "vichara," the direct path. I came across some information by Mouni Sadhu (one of Maharshi's students) on the Internet and thought that I'd give it a try. You can find the information here
. Disregard the talk about "self" and just try to follow the other instruction, namely:
Mouni Sadhu wrote:The method according to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi is as follows:
To immerse oneself in meditation, making a clear impression on the outer mind that the real Self cannot be any transient thing such as the body, emotions or mind. When this fact is strongly established without any doubt in consciousness, then I try to fill every possible moment with the inquiry "WHO AM I?" When any other thought enters the mind one crushes it with the Vichara. The more determined the perseverance, the better the result. The restless mind begins to give up the struggle. As I substitute every approaching thought with the magic Vichara, the periods of absolute quietness become longer. At first it is only for a few seconds, but with constant practice there come minutes of unruffled peace. The most important thing is to catch and remember what was most helpful reaching that peace of mind. I cannot describe that process in my consciousness, because it is above and beyond the activity of the mind, and therefore, cannot be expressed in words, which belong to the mental realm.But each earnest student will have the same experience.
You can also just tell the mind to "STOP" whenever it begins to proliferation verbal thought, using "STOP" in the same way that Maharshi recommends using the "who am I" whenever verbalization begins. Eventually the mind will obey, and verbal thought will just disappear on its own. I don't mind telling you, I was greatly surprised the first time this happened to me. It can be quite an emotional event! The mind suddenly going silent...
Good luck. Just be persistent, and you should do well with either of these methods (Maharshi's or the Bhikkhu's, that is).
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV