How to Reduce the Mental Dialogue

Posted on by Sen.



You will notice that the brain has the tendency to “voice out” thoughts in a language that’s native to you, or the language you are comfortable with. However, the efficient/normal mode of operation in a brain is when it operates in “silence”, without translating every thought into wordful noise. Translation of thoughts is an additional “burden” on the brain, and it takes up more resources and energy. Also, the constant translation of thoughts leads to a noisy brain, which is a huge source of irritation and discomfort. In an unconscious state of being, one can develop the habit of translating all the thoughts happening in their brain, causing an inefficient and sluggish mental process, plus the discomfort of a noisy mind. In a state of consciousness, you can simply “disable” the translation process and allow the mind to operate in silence. Remember, that translation of thoughts into “language” is just a feature available in the human brain, and it’s not required to be activated all the time.

Before languages were developed, the brain naturally operated in silence, and hence was highly efficient and caused very little fatigue in the being. Language provides a huge advantage in allowing us to communicate thoughts with each other, but it’s completely unnecessary to keep talking to ourselves (as if we were talking to another person). You don’t have to talk to yourself in a language; you can understand your thoughts without requiring language. Remember that “language” was devised, or invented, by humans, whereas “thoughts” are inherent to your being. You don’t have to use a language to know your thoughts, you can know your thoughts in silence itself – thought in its pure nature is always silent. It’s the translation of thoughts that makes it noisy. Some translated thoughts can get stuck in the memory due to over-repetition (owing to your unconscious attention to it), and can become a source of irritation and discomfort – the solution is to be more stable in your awareness so that you are not fueling the repetition any further, and thus allowing its dissolution.

Ability to switch off the translation feature in the brain

Before the advent of languages, in the primitive era, humans had pure silence in their brain while being intelligent and wise in their movement, guided by their instinct and intuition – this sharpness was necessary because even the slightest lack of instinct could result in them being a prey to a predator. You can see this sharpness in animals in the wild where their brain is constantly alert to their instincts. Animals don’t have a language, and hence their brain is always silent – their communication is mostly emphatic and the noise they produce is also a way of conveying their state of being through the “frequency” of their voice. You can also process thoughts in silence and function in a highly efficient manner, with more connection to your instinct and wisdom, if you simply turn off the necessity to translate all your thoughts.

A level of awareness is needed before one can start thinking in silence, without the need for translation of all the thoughts. In fact, even the translation of thoughts into “images” is quite unnecessary, and in the presence of awareness the brain is mostly just processing its thoughts in silence. You can, of course, enjoy some mind noise and mind images as you per your desire, while having the ability to process thoughts in silence whenever you want. When you are helplessly translating every thought into words and images, it makes you feel powerless, a prisoner to an unconscious habit – translation is an ability in the brain that you can enjoy, but when it’s an unconscious habit you are operating at a much lower efficiency and much lower intelligence than your brain is capable of.

You can practice this right now – just for a few minutes, stay in a state of awareness, so that all your consciousness is taken up simply in staying aware. In this state, you will notice that the brain is silent (it’s active but silent), and you seem to understand thoughts happening inside you without “translating” them into words. Staying in this awareness can seem like an effort because you have developed the habit of translating thoughts into words, and feel uncomfortable with the silence. However, the more you allow your brain to just operate in awareness without requiring it to translate every thought that goes on in it, the more comfortable you become with this mode of silent operation. This is a highly efficient way of functioning because not only does it relieve the brain of the additional job of translation but it also ensures that the “mind noise” does not cloud your receptivity to your inner voice of instinct and intuition.

Mind’s self-images can blur your core personality

You will notice that brain tries to translate your core self into some form of “image”, what we call the self-image. In many cases, this self image is highly distorted and ambiguous, created from the brain’s mood at present and the brain’s ability to create images. Not all brains are good with creating “accurate” mental images – some brains are naturally good at imagining in the form of pictures, while most have very little cognition of scale, angles and length. To see how good your brain is with images, just look a picture of car, or look at a car in real life, and after a few minutes try to imagine that car from all angles and see how close you can get to the original picture – some brains can produce a picture perfect, well detailed, image of the car, and see it clearly from all angles (these are the people who are good at painting, architecture and designing), while most brains would just have a hazy image of the car lacking in proper scale and detailed definition.

When you can see how limited the brain’s ability to work with images is, just imagine what it can do to your self-image – it can create a highly distorted self image of your body, and your personality, based on its limited capacity and its mood of the moment. For example, when you feel fear, the brain seems to translate it by creating a image of a frightened face (basically your face in a frightened profile) and this image can get stored in your memory and be repeated several times to create an ambiguous self-image of you as frightened person. You will be surprised to notice that your brain may be carrying images of you as a frightened child, and is still using this image to define you – which is part of the child-identity (as discussed in the post – dissolving the child-identity).

To take another example – you may see your face in a mirror (when you are not looking your best), at a certain profile, and your brain can record this image in a hazy way and keep using it to project a negative self-image. And even when your look has changed, it still maintains the old image and creates a feeling that you are looking your worst. This is just an example to show how the brain’s use of images cannot be trusted and in a state of unconsciousness, you can get identified with the brain’s negative self-images, and become completely disconnected with your true personality.

Why do we get addicted to the brain’s translations?

Translating thoughts into language becomes a habit owing to unconscious fueling of this process. This causes us to feel uncomfortable when we are not translating thoughts, we feel as if we are in the “unknown”. However, you need to realize that brain’s natural proclivity is to process thoughts in silence and it can do a much better job of erasing negativity and finding solutions if it did not have to keep translating every thought that it’s going through in the process of finding a solution. This is one reason why we find solutions much easily when we sleep on a problem, when you go to sleep there is a period where the brain can operate in silence without being asked for translations – and in this period of silent operation it efficiently comes up with a solution in connection with your life-stream’s intelligence. You can follow this mode of operation in your waking hours also, where you don’t ask your brain to translate its thought process and are comfortable allowing the brain to function in silence.

You must have noticed some highly unconscious people actually “speaking” their thoughts out aloud (we call them mad, sometimes), but actually they are just one level deeper in unconscious than a person who is translating all the thoughts into “words” in one’s own mind – and having an internal dialogue in the mind as if talking to another person. Both of these are unconscious habits, one being deeper in unconsciousness than another. A conscious human being, with a high level of awareness, is not lost in a noisy mental dialogue (unless he/she wants to enjoy the wordy thoughts) and has the capacity to just allow the brain to work out solutions, and process reality, in silence. A noisy mind is not only far less efficient but it also clouds the reception of your inner guidance and instinct, leading to less wisdom in your daily living.

Allowing the brain to operate in silence can feel highly uncomfortable initially, owing to the pull of your old habit of translating all the thoughts. But as you grow in the power of your awareness, you develop the stability to stay rooted in a calm, allowing the brain to operate in silent mode, without being too concerned about knowing its thought process – the brain in such a case is able to interact easily with your life-stream’s intelligence and hence comes up with solutions, insights and understandings that you may not have access to when you stay stuck repeating a noisy thought pattern. Being addicted to repeating some noisy thought patterns, stuck in your memory, also causes you to resist the brain’s natural movement, it’s like you rewinding a tape constantly instead of letting it play in harmonious manner – the pointer, here, is for you to let go into awareness and stop “holding on” to the brain. Reducing your mental dialogue is a natural benefit you accrue as your level of awareness increases.




20 Comments

  1. Vero

    Fascinating point.
    I remember, when I was about 10 or 11 and started reading more serious literature, that I was highly surprised at the descriptions of people thinking their thoughs in nicely rounded sentences. I remember how stunned I was, because up until that moment my own thoughts were of a very swift, fluid and non-verbal nature (but rich with images as I was drawing and painting a lot). I remember asking a friend of the same age: “Do you think your thoughts in words, like they do in books?” and her replying: “Not at all, I am always surprised to read about people having whole conversations in their minds.”
    Which, I think, proves your point of the mental translation being an aquired skill, very probably thanks to being red aloud when one is a child and then the child starting to read by himself. I also remember that in the period between my 11th and 14th year, roughly, my thoughts had acquired that “wordy” quality and I started thinking in sentences rather than being immersed in a stream of fleeting “somethings” between images, emotions and words. Funny enough I remember being aware of that transformation and considering it a sign of me “growing up”. While in fact I was on my way of becoming more unconscious :-).

    1. Gairmac

      Great post – In my own new practice of relaxed awareness i seem to be going thru that initial period of feeling very uncomfortable with this allowing the brain/mind to find its inherently natural silent processing. Do you recommend maybe shorter periods of sitting? I’ve been going 40 minutes in sitting and then coming back to it during the day when i remember – at work and such – maybe however, just sitting 5 minutes doesn’t allow me to really see and sit with the uncomfort to move past it… any advice?

    2. Sen Post author

      Gairmac, From here on, just follow your comfort, don’t force yourself to sit in relaxed awareness if you don’t feel like it. Just be more focused on being at ease and allowing what arises to arise, without suppressing it. Live as much as possible in a state of surrender to life, let the fears and negative energy arise in your being (coming from past negativity/unconsciousness), be open to it without try to suppress them in any way. If joy arises let it arise, but don’t try to hold on to it. During this phase just be in a place of surrender, don’t try to hold on to anything, just allow yourself to be moved by life, stay in your ease. Soon you will come to a clearmindedness, because this phase of surrender will cause the past negativity to ebb away.

  2. Cihan

    Sen, wonderful article.

  3. Fabrice

    This is very interesting. I have felt confused at times by the self inquiry process explained in many non duality teachings. They often suggest to follow words such as “me” or “my” back to the source, see if they are pointing to something real. But often times I feel this sense of self is there, even if I hear nothing in my mind. There is no “me” or “my” to follow and yet I feel the tension in my face, I feel the weight of “me” is there. If my eyes move, I feel the identification there, the feeling that it is “me” who is directing the eyes, even though these teachings seem to point to the fact that “I” have no control over it, and it is true I do not “premeditate” any of my bodily movements, and if I do, I did not “premeditate” the thought about it.

    1. Sen Post author

      Fabrice, for a while this inquiry is useful to start building the power of “awareness” in your brain. It helps your self-awareness grow. But at some point it can become a “philosophy” and a mind game. Who you truly are is life energy, and this body is presently a temporary expression of this life energy. As this body, you have a brain and it has self-awareness. The brain references itself as the “I” or the “me”, and that’s totally fine because this self-reference helps it build a structure. The brain has a center of voluntary control, using which it can move the limbs, control breathing for a while and it can also direct its thoughts – but it cannot really control several thousands of function in the body in a voluntary way, this is done involuntarily using the intelligence of the body. The “me” you are talking about is the “me” of the brain, and of course it’s not possible to know a thought before it happens – so premeditation is just not possible, in fact there is no such thing. You are the body, and you are also life-energy as a whole – there is no separation.

  4. Susan

    A friend pointed me to this site today and the Universe has answered me! Thank you for such an interesting and informative article. I have been through an enormous amount of stress in the last while and had realized that on wakening, I already had a conversation going on in my head. It frustrated me immensely to feel that I had no control over my own thought process, but now I know I do! I will start slowly, practicing silence, and hopefully will get better and better at it.

  5. Sanjay

    Sen

    I have tried to practise staying for a few minutes (1/2 hr or so) everyday and just watch my mind without trying to be totally identified with it as much as I can at this point. But what I have noticed is that when I try to watch my mind consciously, it does not bring in as much negative thoughts or emotions. It is as you have mentioned in one of your posts “How to Reduce the Mental Dialogue”, the mind seems to process thoughts in silence in such moments. I am not sure if I am suprressing any thoughts/emotions. I am trying not to. My question is that if my mind is not throwing up negativity while I am watching it consciously then it kind of defeats the purpose of allowing the negativity in the mind fully to understant the natural make-up of the mind and allow it to settle to a balance. Also, please note that when I am engaged in activites that I am not particularly interested but still have to perform as part of my daily routine, my mind does throw up negative thoughts/emotions every time I get struck or delayed and am unable to complete these tasks on time. I feel if I can stay aware in such moments then it can serve the purpose of allowing the negativity without totally identifying with it. It seems ressitance of some sort is needed (in this case the resistance is probably coming from an activity that I don’t enjoy much) for the mind to throw up it negativity. But then it becomes diffcult to suddenly switch your attention from doing the activity and becoming aware of the what the mind is doing. Can you please provide some insights on this situation?

    Thanks!
    Sanjay

    1. Sen Post author

      Sanjay, you don’t need negativity to understand the natural makeup of your mind. When you sit with yourself, and bring awareness to your mind, you don’t have to look for negativity, rather just try to get a sense of what you truly desire in your heart, what your mind’s natural inclinations are, get a sense of your mind’s personality. The challenge of course is to develop the courage to stay true to your natural makeup once you become aware of it, if you continue forcing yourself against your natural inclination it will always feel like a struggle. The issues at your job could be for many reasons including a sense of self-criticism, meekness and jealousy. You can identify these patterns in the mind as you grow in awareness. Your inner being is already focused on the ideal self you desire to be, and the ideal reality you want for yourself at present, you just need to allow it in by letting go of holding on to limiting thought patterns.

  6. alchemista

    Hello Sen,

    This article took me back to when I started interpreting my thoughts. I was around 25 or 27 years old and following a traumatic event in my life that shook me at the core and led me to severe depression when I reasoned that it was time for me to grow up and control myself and my life. That perhaps parents and society are right and my instinct ‘knowing’ is not the mature way to live life. So I decided that I need to be more aware and ‘catch’ my thoughts and heed their messages!! I took it upon myself to interpret the thoughts that cross my mind searching for hints as to what I need to do and how to plan my actions, etc. I remember suffering and being overwhelmed by this daunting task but somehow figured this is what it means to be responsible and adult. I was afraid that there was something wrong with me that I was unable to focus on my thoughts, that I was slow. Needless to say it was exhausting, confusing and soon enough led me deeper into talking aloud with my thoughts. When I would talk aloud, I would become aware of myself and it would confuse and depress me even more because I knew that this did not feel right but I was at a loss with what to do. I spent about 10 years going in circles in my mind until I started having breakthroughs. Looking back now, I can’t help but wonder why would take oneself into unconciousness? Can you please shed some light on this for me. It feels as if I’ve asked this of you before but I’m not sure and obviously I am still struggling to understand the wisdom behind this path to growth. I am very thankful but still it feels it was a high price to pay, all these years of suffering followed by disentangling oneself from fear and all the learnt habits, to learn the truth about our mind.

    1. alchemista

      Sen, after I posted this comment I found my way to your article “You are here for growth” and the words “growth towards inner stability” kept jumping back at me. It seems as though the thought of “what if I were not to find my way out” is lingering around.

    2. Sen Post author

      The question of “why should it be this way” only has one answer – this is how it turned out in this stream of consciousness – this was the journey that happened. Dwelling upon the “why” is just waste of time and energy, and usually ends up in a lot of philosophy – what’s more prudent to see where you’ve reached and how you seek move forward in your new awareness. Clinging to the past will not serve any value at all, you can simply let go of it and start moving forward towards living life now from your higher awareness and understanding. Usually it does take some suffering before one starts waking out of the mind’s trance – so the suffering had its value, and of course the experiences that you had enabled you to gain several perspectives that will be part of your understanding going forward.

    3. Alchemista

      And upon a little more search, I find my answer in your art ke “The Non-physical Perspective”

      Sen says: ” In order to know wholeness, it would need to become imbalanced in someway and then return to wholeness from this journey of imbalance, thus “consciously” knowing what wholeness is and thus consciously appreciating it. It’s a very simple logic.”.

      I just Love your Blog!! Thank you so much Sen.

  7. IG.

    I have mental translation. I had it since I can remember myself. I even used to ask people in what language are you thinking and usually get just a look back! Is this translation becouse of fear. If I just stay in this allowing space of fear and thoughts will the chatter melt away.?

  8. Trevor

    “Before the advent of languages, in the primitive era, humans had pure silence in their brain while being intelligent and wise in their movement, guided by their instinct and intuition – this sharpness was necessary because even the slightest lack of instinct could result in them being a prey to a predator.”

    Humans can act instinctively without thought, but we can’t think (in the normal sense of the world, ie ‘to ponder’) without words. Words are the scaffolding for thought. Without words, we have no capacity to ponder, just like a rodent. It smells and acts. It doesn’t deliberate. That would require words.

    1. Amit

      Hi sen..
      I have been like this since i was as little as 4 or may be 3 i.e. perhaps since i learnt some language first up…
      Its absolutely normal for me unless i read this article..so then what to do…one place u say allow everything as it comes and do not resist…so then if i resist the self talk doesn’t it contradict with what u say …?? please give insights …Thanks..

    2. John

      HI my name is John, I am 15 years old, I have been searching for answers for about a year now because I have these voices in my head when ever it is totally quiet that yell really loud at me telling me to do random scary things. It sometimes sounds like the voice is almost warning me about things but the voice seems to tell me to do horrible things and its really stressing me out because some of the things the voice say sound reasonable but if I follow them I will get in huge trouble because they are illegal. But here is the weird part when I try to listen in on the voices or try to here what they are saying they go away as if the voice doesn’t want me to here his comments directly. Please give me advice I really need help.

  9. smithy

    Hi Sen

    I am currently practicing watching my thoughts and I found that when I do this I find myself talking to myself or answering myself while im sitting in the practice. eg ow im relaxed now, keep allowing, stay open, are these the types of dialogue you are talking about in this article? and is it best to just allow this mental voice/dialogue in and watch past them???

    1. Tyler

      Smithy,

      The self talk you describe is natural for a person going through this process. The fact that you are aware of this dialogue going on already shows that you have found space from the mind’s chatter through your practice, and have begun to gain freedom from mind thoughts.

      You are indeed correct that it’s best to just allow this mental voice/dialogue and watch them pass. Right now the mind is trying to create what it “thinks” this process will lead too, or what it “thinks” it is doing right. For example “wow now i’m relaxed”, “keep allowing”, “stay open” all point to the mind’s efforts to hit its imaginative future state. Really it’s about allowing all the mental noise to die down so you can experience the freedom and space that you already have (the mental noise just cloud’s up the space). Of course, it’s all fine and it feels good to be relaxed and staying open, etc. At this stage of the game this is a pretty normal thing for people to experience. Just continue to allow these thoughts and let them have their play without making any huge meaning about them. The important part is you are developing the freedom from the thoughts by openly allowing them to appear and disappear and let the thoughts act on their own accord, until they loose a strong hold on you. This is true be it a good feeling or a bad feeling, both sides must come down to really experience the freedom. You’re on the right track my friend, with your understanding of allowing and like you have already said, just continue to allow the mental dialogue.

      You can also use your current scenario to get an early experience of freedom from your mind. When you have freedom from mind you can just allow and enjoy it’s thoughts, prejudices, judgments, fantasies, expectations, etc. without them pulling you around. For example, the next time any self-dialogue comes up just be aware of it and watch how the mind kind of plays with itself, trying to get somewhere. As you drop more and more into being more aware and silent (rather than trying to get somewhere) you will notice yourself laughing at all the crazy stuff that can come through your mind, since it no longer really means anything to you.

    2. smithy

      Tyler.

      Thank you for your response, prior to reading your response I continued to allow the dialogue I mentioned freely and without judgment or being captured by the visual projections. at present I find long gaps of no mind and in these gaps I feel a background of energy that I can only describe as a really good energy with-in. thank you for clearing up my query Tyler and You are absolutely right I have already silently laughed at the minds random visual projections and dialogue, I don’t get fazed or identify with the minds natural movement regardless of situation or practice as much as I use to, I will continue my awareness and feel I’ve already come along way as I’ve only being raising my awareness to the mind for 6 weeks now.

      Thanks again Tyler

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