A Still Mind Isn’t An Absence of Thought

Have you tried to still the mind? Or stop your thoughts? Do you get frustrated and feel deflated when you can’t? Well there’s good news because that’s not the goal. You’re not looking for a still mind.

This is what a community member shared with me recently:

Some days seem to be better than others in terms of how well I can keep my mind still.

Oh but that’s not the goal.

It’s a common misconception that – if I’m to be awakened and have the beautiful, contented, easy, flowing life that I know is available – I have to stop the mind from being so active. I have to keep my mind still.

Have you ever tried that?

You can give it a go now.

Step 1. Just sit quietly, put a stop clock on if you like, and see how long it takes for a thought to pop into your head.

Step 2. Now try and actively stop thoughts from appearing. How long did you last?

Most people can’t get to one minute before a thought pops in. Maybe it was something like ‘I can totally do this’ or ‘oh I’m doing so well, I’m at 30 seconds’ or ‘did I get the broccoli for dinner’ or ….any other random or seemingly relevant thought.

Now check, which of those felt more effortless? Step 1, or Step 2?

And therefore if you’re looking for a beautiful, contented, easy, flowing life, which of these approaches is more closely aligned with that?

Step 1. Letting thoughts pop up, as they do?


Step 2. Actively trying to still the mind?

Why is it like this?

The mind’s nature is activity. It is a thing. It is an object in awareness. Things change, move, come and go. It’s what they do.

It’s futile trying to make something stop or sit still whose nature is to move.

And this is OK.

Because stillness is before the mind.

The absence of movement is in that which knows the objects.

That’s where you want to look for stillness, quiet, peace and ease.

The goal has never been to have a quiet mind. The goal has always been to recognise that the quiet is what knows, or is aware of, thoughts. Aware of what we call ‘the mind’.

So you can stop trying to do anything with thoughts. You can give up the dream that one day my mind will be empty and still.

You don’t actually want that anyway.

What you want is the recognition of, and living as, the beauty, contentment, ease and flow of your nature.

What you want is the peaceful stillness of who you already are.

With love, Helen

PS If you felt the value of this two step exploration you’ll want to buy The Complete Book of Awakening. It guides you, using simple explorations like this, through the complete journey of recognising, and living as, your essential nature – peaceful stillness. Search “The Complete Book of Awakening” on your local Amazon, and go here for all the associated courses and free resources.

  • Helen Amery
    My work involves exploring with people who are on the awakening and enlightenment journey. They’ve already seen a lot but they can also feel that their understanding is more conceptual than felt, and lived. They can feel that there is more to be seen and understood and yet they also don’t know how to ‘get at’ that. I focus on this shift from conceptual into the deeper, felt understanding of it.

    You can find me at

More blog posts

Making spirituality a religion

I get it. A nondual (or other spiritual) exploration can be engaging, Feeling at peace with ourselves, our lives, our relationships, our world…is naturally enticing.

Read More »

Do you want to write a book?

Y’know those things that you find so easy, that you just kinda assume you are ‘average’ at? Or maybe you don’t know, because you haven’t

Read More »

Blog Archives

Recent Blog Posts

Search Blog

All Posts by Date