All it takes is 10 mindful minutes - Andy Puddicombe
This is a summary of the 'TED Talk' All it takes is 10 mindful minutes by Andy PuddicombeThe original TED talk can be found here: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes | Andy Puddicombe.
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We live in an incredibly busy world. We live in a rapidly moving world of obsessions and productivity, moving around, chatting, reading, processing information and thinking about the next moment to come. But we never ever seem to stop. So I ask you - when did you actually ever sit down and do nothing? Think about nothing? No reminiscing about the past, planning for the future, sending an email - just did absolutely nothing.
It's an extraordinary thing our mind. Our most precious resource of which we experience all of our life, and what we rely on to be happy content, kind, thoughtful and considerate. A mind that allows us to be creative, spontaneous and allow us to perform at our very best to create who we are as a person. And yet, we don't take any time to look after it. Instead, we're so obsessed with our cars, our families, our taxes, our relationships and the bustling world around us - that we neglect the world within us. The result is we get stressed, and our we are not ready to deal with the effects of this. We are so distracted by our own distractions that we became alienated from ourselves, as our mind almost runs away from us. We miss out on the things that are most important to us. What's sad is most people assume this is a natural part of life, that we should follow the adage 'it is what it is' and get on with it. But that's not how it has to be at all.
My Meditation Journey
I was about 11 when I went to my first meditation class. It was what you'd typically expect - it had all the incense, we all sat cross-legged, we drank herbal tea - it was the whole deal. I went along with my mum, and I'd watched a few kung-fu movies that told me I would be able to fly by the end of it so I was keen. As I was there, I assumed it was an aspirin for the mind; you get stressed and meditate. I never knew that it could be preventative.
I was in my 20s when I went through a stressful period of my life. A number of serious things that flipped my life upside down. My mind was under pressure, a pool of conflicting thoughts that simply wouldn't boil away. Some people will bury themselves in work, grateful for the distraction. Others turn to their friends for support. Others hit the bottle and taking medication. My only way of dealing with it was becoming a monk, so I fled the country to the Himalayas, quit my job and started studying meditation.
As you'd expect, the experience changed me. It taught me a greater appreciation for the present moment; not being lost in thought, distracted and overwhelmed by difficult emotions but instead how to be in the "here and now" and how to be present. It's so underrated. And yet we spend so little time in the present, it's depressing. There was a research paper that came out of Harvard recently which found that our minds are lost in thought almost 47% of the time. At the same time, this constant mind wondering is also a direct cause of unhappiness. Now we're not here that long, so to spend almost half our life lost in thought - isn't that a bit frightening? Especially when there's a positive, practical, achievable scientifically proven, easy technique to be more mindful and less distracted. Oh, and what's more - it only takes 10 minutes a day despite impacting our entire life. But we need to know how to do it.
How To be Mindful
Mindfulness is not about controlling the mind and getting rid of thoughts - it's more about stepping back and seeing the thought clearly in its motion in time and place. Emotions coming and going without judgement, but with a relaxed, focussed mind.
Let's take an example of me juggling;
If I focus too much on the balls I'm juggling, I will drop the balls. At the same time, if I focus too much on you guys in the audience, I will likewise drop the balls.
In life, and in meditation there will be time when the focus becomes a little bit too intense and life starts to feel uncomfortable with the stress. In other times, we may go in the opposite direction and become apathetic. So we're looking for a balance where we can let thoughts come and go without the usual involvement. What usually happens is we're going fine, but then an anxious thought comes and we try and block it out, because we know that anxious thought is bad. But then we start to question why we're getting an anxious thought... and before we know it - we're anxious about being anxious. A vicious cycle.
It's like the wobbly tooth - we know we shouldn't wobble it. We try and put it out of our mind, and yet we still end up wobbling it. Because we're constantly thinking about it. We think about thinking about it. It's only by stepping back and learning to watch the mind through meditation that we can let go of the patterns of mind.
Meditation offers the opportunity to step back and get a different perspective on the world around you. That things aren't always what they appear. We can't change everything that happens in life, but we can change how we experience it. You definitely don't need to burn any incense or sit on the floor. All you need to do is spend 10 minutes a day to familiarise yourself with the present moment, to get some focus, calm and clarity in your life.
WE'd love to hear about your thoughts on this article - do you or have you practiced mindfulness? what makes you continue or why did you stop before? is this video a helpful reminder?