tame your monkey mind - use meditation for mindfulness
Don’t you totally miss Seinfeld? A show about nothing that worked its way into the American psyche, like few before or since. What’s funny about that show is that they never worried about the future. They were all about living in the present. Consequences be damned!
We all wished we could be like them. Unfortunately, in the real world, sometimes that worry about consequences so much we can’t enjoy the moment. Have you ever obsessed about some conversation or thing that happened so much that you couldn’t sleep?
We’ve all had that experience where we can’t let something go. The whole time you’re trying to tell yourself “stop obsessing, you can’t change anything, but you’re coming up with all kinds of replies you WISHED you had said.” But your brain just keeps replaying it over and over and over.
Well… that’s where mindfulness can help.
Is this the same thing a meditation?
Mindfulness is a TYPE of meditation. I find it the easiest to do. It seems less judgy and more approachable than other forms. It’s NOT about being perfectly focused for 17 hours a day while sitting cross legged on a pillow in the Himalayans, it’s about acknowledging that we have crazy thoughts, and then letting go of those thoughts. And seriously, that commute would get old FAST.
I mean, we all have monkey brain. That part of our mind that just won’t SHUT UP. You’re not trying to stop it, because that would be impossible. Mindfulness helps us bring focus to something, usually your breath. And when, not if, but when your monkey brain starts chiming in with your To Do list and how your shoes are pinching your feet, you accept that, “yes, my shoes are pinching” and go back to focusing on your breath.
You acknowledge the interruption, and that kind-of lets it go.
The idea is that once you start to do it regularly, you’ll start to let other things go. Like that jerkwad that just cut you off in traffic. Or the clerk that can’t find your daughter’s birthday cake you ordered a month ago. Or… god willing… that kid screaming at the next table over during your anniversary dinner. It helps train your brain to stay in the present moment. The right now that you get to experience. Because you can’t change the past and you might not get a future.
And there’s some really great emerging science that shows that in just 100 minutes (that’s just 10 minutes a day) can start to “rewire” the neural synapses in your brain, which could lead to better memory, better focus on tasks and reduced symptoms for people with ALS, Alzheimer’s, Anxiety and maybe even cancer patients during chemo.
Of course, the science is still in its infancy, but it certainly is promising. And it’s been around for 100s of years, so there’s got to be something to it. And even if there’s isn’t… what’s it gonna hurt you? God forbid we have more calm people out in the world?!
Just 10 minutes a day. You can do 10 minutes. Set a timer on your phone and go someplace quiet (that might be the hardest part, right?!). Or use one of the apps out there if you need a guide to get started. Almost all of them offer some type of free trial. I like Headspace because his voice is just heavenly. But also, it allows you to pick a topic (sleep, flying, grief, etc.) and the time you want dedicate (10 min, 15, 30?), and then the guided meditation is tailored for you.
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