… In just 10 minutes
|“||Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it’s … about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going.”
I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.
There was a research paper that came out of Harvard, just recently, that said on average our minds are lost in thought almost 47 percent of the time. Forty-seven percent. At the same time, this constant mind-wandering is also a direct cause of unhappiness. Now we’re not here for that long anyway, but to spend almost half of our life lost in thought and potentially quite unhappy- it just seems tragic.
But there’s something we can do about it. There’s a positive, practical, achievable, scientifically proven technique which allows our mind to be more healthy, to be more mindful and less distracted. And the beauty of it is that even though it need only take about 10 minutes a day, it impacts our entire life.
But we need to know how to do it. We need an exercise. We need a framework to learn how to be more mindful. That’s essentially what meditation is. It’s familiarizing ourselves with the present moment. But we also need to know how to approach it in the right way to get the best from it.
Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind, but actually it’s quite different from that. It’s more about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going, emotions coming and going without judgment, but with a relaxed, focused mind.
(he’s juggling balls…)
So for example, right now, if I focus too much on the balls, then there’s no way that I can relax and talk to you at the same time. Equally, if I relax too much talking to you, then there’s no way I can focus on the balls. I’m going to drop them. Now in life and in meditation, there’ll be times when the focus becomes a little bit too intense, and life starts to feel a bit like this. It’s a very uncomfortable way to live life, when you get this tight and stressed. At other times, we might take our foot off the gas a little bit too much, and things just become a sort of little bit like this. Of course in meditation — (Snores) — we’re going to end up falling asleep.
So we’re looking for a balance, a focused relaxation where we can allow thoughts to come and go without all the usual involvement.
Now, what usually happens when we’re learning to be mindful is that we get distracted by a thought. Let’s say this is an anxious thought. So everything’s going fine, and then we see the anxious thought, and it’s like, “Oh, didn’t realize I was worried about that.” You go back to it, repeat it. “Oh, I am worried. Oh, I really am worried. Wow, there’s so much anxiety.” And before we know it, we’re anxious about feeling anxious. You know, this is crazy. We do this all the time, even on an everyday level. If you think about the last time you had a wobbly tooth. You know it’s wobbly, and you know that it hurts. But what do you do every 20, 30 seconds? ..’ It does hurt.’ And we reinforce the storyline, right? And we just keep telling ourselves, and we do it all the time.
Only in learning to watch the mind in this way that we can start to let go of those story lines and patterns of mind.
When you sit down and you watch the mind in this way, you might see many different patterns. You might find a mind that’s really restless. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit agitated in your body when you sit down to do nothing and your mind feels like that. You might find a mind that’s very dull and boring, and it’s just, almost mechanical, it just seems it’s as if you’re getting up, going to work, eat, sleep, get up, work. Or it might just be that one little nagging thought that just goes round and round and round your mind. Well, whatever it is, meditation offers the opportunity, the potential to step back and to get a different perspective, to see that things aren’t always as they appear.
We can’t change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it.
That’s the potential of meditation, of mindfulness. You don’t have to burn any incense, and you definitely don’t have to sit on the floor. All you need to do is to take 10 minutes out a day to step back, to familiarize yourself with the present moment so that you get to experience a greater sense of focus, calm and clarity in your life.
Excerpt from the TEDtalk, Andy Puddicombe: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes
Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says that mindfulness meditation makes perfect sense for treating anxiety.
“People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power,” she explains. “They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.”
If you have unproductive worries,” says Dr. Hoge, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. “You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” says Dr. HogTo get a sense of mindfulness meditation, you can try one of the guided recordings by Dr. Ronald Siegel, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. They are available for free at www.mindfulness-solution.com.