Everywhere I look these days people are extolling the values of living mindfully. Celebrities are raving about the benefits of daily meditation, and “live in the moment” memes saturate social media. It seems that “still the mind” sentiment trends faster than a Kardashian selfie. But is this conscious sentiment all it’s cracked up to be?
I tend to think a lot. I ponder, analyse, question, examine, and then think some more. It’s possible I am taking Socrates’ famed expression – “an unexamined life is not worth living” – too literally. I examine, well, everything – from the big stuff, to the small stuff, to the meaningful and the meaningless. It’s my default setting.
When I hear people say, “don’t overthink it”, I can’t help but laugh. At myself. I am a self-confessed over thinker; I excel at it. But lately I’ve been flirting with the idea of switching off. Not entirely, because that would be a little dramatic, and I don’t think cold turkey is my thing. But I do think I would benefit from reducing some of the noise. Because it’s very LOUD in there!
Previous attempts to still my mind have backfired. My brain immediately responds with a surge of adrenalin. Instead of slowing it down, it speeds up, raising my heart rate instead of calming it. I’m like a junkie suffering from immediate withdrawals if I am without my thoughts; an addict, desperate for my next hit.
Seduced by the promise of a calm, tranquil, and content mind, I decided to give meditation a go. It sounded enticing, and a lot more appealing than the methods I experimented with in my youth to achieve a similar state of mind. But try as I might I just couldn’t get into a Zen-like state.