by KATHY WILSON
Apparently, the average person has somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts each day. And it has been estimated that between 50 and 60% of those thoughts are negative and on a repeated loop – coming back over and over and over again.
Mental chatter that does nothing and helps no one.
To make the whole thing more exhausting, those statistics aren’t even seasonally adjusted to deal with Christmas. Imagine the spike of thoughts as people deal with kids home from school for 6 weeks, buying presents, breakup parties, unwritten Christmas cards and what you buy your mother-in-law this year.
If we happened to tune into the mess of mental noise that will be whirling around in people’s heads over the next 6 weeks, the volume would be catastrophic.
I’m guessing those statistics won’t much surprise anyone who has ever sat down and tried to concentrate. The notorious, “monkey mind” leaps like a sugared up toddler from one thought to the next, barely stopping for breath.
But what about if it didn’t have to be like that? What about if there was tool that everyone could use to quiet the mindless chatter and leave a calm mental space from which to operate.
Something like….. oh I don’t know… meditation.
Meditation is no longer the province of monks and hippies. The rest of the world is starting to figure out the incredible benefits that can come from as little as 10 minutes each day. Hugh Jackman swears by it. So does our dear friend Zoe Foster (and Mamamia’s own Bec Sparrow).
Over the next 6 weeks, in the lead up to Christmas and throughout the holidays, we’ll be posting a series of articles on meditation to help you be your serene, sweet best going into 2013.
With each post, we’ll also include a free, guided meditation from experts around the country.
If there was ever a time to give meditation a go, the silly season has to be it. I like to think of it like wonder woman’s bracelets – helping deflect the stress and pressures of Christmas and leaving you strong and calm to deal with what comes along.
But in the same way that (sadly) reading about diets rarely helps you lose weight, you can’t benefit from meditation until you actually do it.
So let’s get started by busting a few myths.
Myth number one: Meditation is only beneficial if you are good at it.
Nope. Meditation doesn’t just deliver benefits to people who can sit perfectly in the lotus position or control their mind so well they can hold their hand over a naked flame… Anyone can do it.
According to Matt Young of the Melbourne Meditation Centre (who has kindly given permission for us to share his gorgeous introductory meditation), meditation can offer benefits even if you don’t feel like anything is happening.
“Many people who are starting out in meditation report that they were unable to still their minds at all for the session and yet, felt calmer through the subsequent day,” he says.
Myth number two: Meditation is a religious practice and has no place in my secular lifestyle.
I believe this myth is more responsible for people steering clear of meditation than any other so let me answer this one really carefully. Meditation is practiced by people of many different religions and no religion at all. It is profoundly personal and unique to everyone.
Myth number three: You have to meditate for hours on a remote hillside near camels, to get any benefits.
Also untrue – especially the bit about camels. 10 minutes a day is plenty to start feeding the relaxation triggers of your mind. And your living room is fine.
Myth number four: Meditation is an instant fix.
Bummer, but this one is untrue as well. The real news is this: meditation doesn’t work anywhere near as quickly as downing a tequila shot. Sorry. For many people there is no improvement in either the practice or lifestyle for at least 7 days of daily meditation. For others, it takes even longer. But after that, many people report a dramatic increase in wellbeing and a curl your toes deliciousness that not even 5 shots of tequila can match. (And guaranteed no hangover)
So that’s it, cards on the table. The good, the bad and the ugly.
If you like the idea of a calmer mind and maybe a calmer life, take the time to clear your decks for 10 minutes, find yourself a set of headphones (it’s okay we’ll wait while you nick them from your kids room) and click this link.
And if you feel like it, leave us a comment on what else you’d like to know and we’ll try to answer them in our upcoming articles.