Nick Ang profile picture

Nick Ang

The uncommon (and invaluable) ability to recognise a noisy mind

water droplet noisy mind metaphor Photo by Levi XU on Unsplash

One of the biggest benefits I’ve personally gotten from meditating daily is the invaluable ability to recognise when my mind is noisy.

“Why does it matter?”, you ask. Because our quality of life (and work) is always directly affected by clarity and peace of mind. I’ve noticed that when it’s noisy up there, my every decision and action becomes less deliberate.

Less deliberate in getting me closer to where I want to be.

Isn’t that what we’re all striving for? To be more loving, to be more appreciated at work, to be someone who has done meaningful and useful work?

I’ve learned that the first and only step towards maximising the effect of every decision we make and every action we take is having a clear, peaceful mind.

Through my own experience with being a peaceful state of mind, something I occasionally glimpse from daily meditation, I concur with what Eckhart Tolle says in The Power Of Now:

[…] about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before.

Looking past the choice of the word “enlightened”, these anecdotes paint a vivid picture of the need to have a quiet mind.

And the first step towards a quiet mind is the uncommon, trained ability to recognise how noisy it really is at every moment in our life.

For that, I find daily meditation to be a tremendous tool.

In a 10-minute session of meditation, carried out right after brushing my teeth and downing a glass of water in the morning, I’m able to strengthen the muscle capable of snapping my self out of my thinking mind.

I’d snap out of it, noticing how unrelentingly busy my thinking mind has been in the past 10-15 seconds, and within another 20 seconds, I’d have to snap out of the newfangled thought that is now keeping my mind busy again.

Every time I meditate, this pattern repeats. The struggle is always ongoing. I suppose what Eckhart Tolle means by “enlightenment” here must be the state of having no sub/unconscious thoughts spawned unwittingly.

That’s a tall order and not something I’m actively striving for. Just the ability to “snap out of it” on demand is good enough for me. That in itself is a huge benefit. And when I notice the noise, I just sit down and meditate once again - that usually calms the rough waters so that I can once again make good decisions.

Nick Ang profile picture
Senior software engineer, dad, writer-thinker type. Big on learning something everyday and trying to have fun before the lights go out.
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