There are many ways to go about clearing one’s head of thoughts. These are some of the ways that helped me greatly in cultivating this basis for meditation. I’m no master at this as I am constantly working to keep a clear head. It seems that when you get a leg up on the practice life tends to throw you curve balls in the form of life problems, rampaging emotions, or compulsive thinking. Here are some ways to approach this technique.
The traditional way of helping someone get rid of thoughts, in many systems and cultures, is to teach them to concentrate on their breathing. This works very well unless you obsess about controlling your breath. Then you can run the risk of not breathing enough or hyperventilating. Taking long breaths and keeping your concentration on the act of breathing, with practice, will force you to clear your head. The hard part is when you let the breath be, and you just allow yourself to loosen your concentration and allow yourself to simply be. As thoughts come, concentrating on the breath and repeating the process trains you to rely on the breath when you become distracted. At first this technique will seem impossible because of the sheer volume of thoughts but paired with the next technique clearing one’s head can be easier.
Sometimes when doing the breathing exercise, one will still be plagued by many thoughts. Thinking is ok when you have a clear mind. At first stopping thoughts seems almost impossible. The attachment to thoughts disturbs the mind. If you can have a thought, but not pay attention to it the thought will pass like a cloud in the sky. If you do this enough times it will become natural and the thoughts will dissipate over time. The breathing technique helps when you attach to a thought. This practice creates a foundation for waking life as well. Non-attachment is a powerful tool in life.
Another thing one can do if the above proves too difficult and is an excellent exercise in itself is to develop pinpoint concentration. To develop this, choose an object, preferably one that isn’t moving and focus your concentration fully on it. When you get to the point where you don’t need the object anymore to visualize the object move on to an object that moves, like a candle flame. Once you can visualize that, practice on things that you don’t have in front of you. This newly developed concentration can be used in many aspects of your life. Concentration helps in the breathing exercises, and can be used to concentrate fully on the moment allowing you to let thoughts enter and leave your head unimpeded.
One of the coolest things of having a mind with no thoughts is that it comes naturally to most of us. It happens even when you aren’t noticing! Have you ever sat on a beach, or in your backyard, with a beverage relaxing and you are so relaxed that there is a moment where you just take it all in. Time seems to freeze, and you feel complete bliss and peace. That is that moment! There are many situations that provide that state. It is something that we do naturally. When we deem this practice as hard, we fulfill a self-fulfilling prophesy. Something is only as hard as you make. Anything is possible with enough time and dedication.