I was listening to “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” — an entertaining quiz show on NPR. A question was asked concerning a recent scientific study. Would a human rather do what than be alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes? The answer was: Give themselves an electric shock! The study was as follows: Leave a person alone in a room for 15 minutes and all they had was a button to give themselves an electric shock if they chose to. They were given the shock one time before the study began to feel the power of the shock.
100 people were tested and the results were as follows:
2/3 of the men shocked themselves
1/3 of women shocked themselves (I guess there are fewer women who don’t like to inflict unnecessary pain upon themselves, or they have more common sense — hmm, food for thought.)
They reported that one man shocked himself 190 times. I will reserve comment on that person.
Yes it’s true, we are addicted to distraction. Getting quiet with our thoughts is too much for many of us to handle and it’s exhausting. One common complaint I hear about seated meditation is, “Ellen, my mind gets busier when I meditate.” The truth is that their mind was always that busy. It is when we try to subdue our thoughts, that we notice just how crazy and busy our mind is. It is less painful to inflict shockwaves upon ourselves, than get still. In the yoga world, they refer to this as “monkey mind”- it swings from branch to branch, eats bananas, and loves to be entertained.
I understand — I am guilty of checking my cell phone too often and I know I am in the vast majority. How do we help to calm the endless chatter of our mind?
1. Understand you cannot “stop” your mind and if you do try, it will resist and get busier.
2. Learn to notice your thoughts without judgment. Your thoughts are like a cloud in the sky changing shape. Sometimes they move quickly and other times they hang around.
3. You need tools and consistent practice to find inner calm, it is no easy task. Below is a simple beginning:
As I have said before, the breath is a great help and an easy way to start. Similar to your thoughts, your breath has movement. Begin to notice the full movement of your breath cycle. Every time your mind gets too busy, come back to your breath, over and over again.
Keep in mind that there are many ways to quickly calm the chatter, other than sitting still and noticing your breathing. Years back, I could not sit still for more than a minute and even now there are days when my mind is crazy busy, so I need to use a different technique. This is called: normal. It is not helpful to force yourself to stay with one specific technique. It is much more beneficial to have a variety of techniques to choose from. You will feel comfortable in your own skin, without the need distract yourself with busy thoughts. Then, when the big challenges come along you will be able to handle them with ease.
It is worth your time to gain the skill to calm your mind. The benefit is a life where you are able to focus on the task at hand. You will get more done, have more fun, transform your fear, lower your pain, improve your focus, and increase your stamina.
Sound unachievable? It isn’t. Find out for yourself and sign up for my free teleseminar:
How to Stop the Endless Chatter in Your Mind: The surefire way to calm the voices in your head so you can finally have some peace and joy. Thursday, August 14th at 7pm. http://customcalm.com/mind-chatter
Until then, begin to become aware of your busy thoughts. Notice when you feel rushed, distracted, or anxious. See if you can let go of judgment and simply notice as if you were noticing the clouds changing shape and moving through the sky.
I admit, I am often entertained by noticing where my thoughts can take me, and I am sure you will too if you do not take this too seriously. If you want to dive in a bit deeper, when your mind get’s distracted, notice the cycle of your breath. For now, enjoy the process, be kind to yourself and let me know what you noticed. Remember, a little awareness will go a long way.
The best part is, you don’t have to press shock buttons for distraction!