I have a busy mind. Who doesn’t these days?
Gravediggers and chimney sweeps, that’s who. But this isn’t about them.
“Busy” isn’t necessarily bad when it comes to brains—they’re designed for it—but there is such a thing as too busy.
In any given 10-second period, my brain pings through the following thoughts/images/concepts (or something similar):
What will I eat for the rest of the day?
The Plaza Theater should play Big Trouble in Little China.
Robots that look like turtles.
The global coffee shortage is coming.
It can’t really be 2016. Can it?
Problems with leadership succession helped bring down the Roman Empire.
Robots that look like robots.
And that’s just ten seconds. Extrapolate out to a minute, five minutes, an hour—you get the idea.
So I’d love to unbusy things. I don’t think grave diggers and chimney sweeps are still a thing, and neither is an attractive career option to me anyway.
That just leaves meditation. Some call it mindfulness. I call it tough.
The mind of a regular meditator is very not busy, or so the literature tells me. There is an entire industry of books and internet write-ups on the subject.
It heals. It calms. It makes you more productive. It can slow down time itself.
It helps you grow grey matter.
Grey matter. Could there be a worse name for something desirable? Be out in a few minutes, dear; I’m meditating. Need more grey matter.
I’m particularly interested in the calm and productivity benefits. I love single-tasking. Multi-tasking is ok, but single-tasking is where it’s at. A busy brain makes that difficult. Toss in the internet, and it’s game over.
To that end, I started trying to form a daily meditation practice.
Ten years ago.
I often hear the analogy that meditation is like working out. Do it every day, and good things happen. Do it once a week, you won’t see much benefit.
I meditate once a week. For about fifteen minutes after the practice, I feel great. Calm, focused, a master of time and space. Same thing a week later for 15 minutes.
Why not every day? All one has to do is sit and breathe for 10 minutes. I can’t think of anything that takes less effort. Sleeping, maybe. Staring at things. Burping.
Is meditation really no different than other good habits I fail to do consistently, like eating well, exercising, and cleaning?
All the futurism in the universe won’t help me this time, either. Robots will be able to clean for me, prepare healthy meals, and act as a personal trainer that carries me outside for exercise.
But they can’t meditate for me.
I suppose I could program a robot to force me into a chair and not allow me to move for ten minutes, but that’s just asking for trouble.
No, I have to do this myself. I’m currently trying out Headspace, an app that offers a wide range of guided meditations. It seems help. Externally-guided meditation works better for me than self-guided meditation.
Using the app, I’ve upped my rate of meditation from once a week to once a week.
Some say if you adopt a new skill or task but can’t hit the ground running, then you should “fake it till you make it.” It has become a cliché, but I’m willing to try anything now.
I’ll go up into the mountains, find a bunch of picturesque cliff ledges, and takes pictures of myself in lotus with eyes closed.
Each week, I will post one of those pics along with an inspirational quote. Once everyone thinks I’m a master at this, protecting my new public image as a Zen master will become a priority.
I’ll have no choice but to start doing it for real.
Who among you meditates? Every day? How? Can you teach me to sit still for 10 minutes and breathe?
I need your help. I’m a single-tasking brain trapped in a multi-tasking brain’s body.
* Gravedigger is still a thing, it’s just done with machinery.
* “Gravedigger” is also the name of a popular monster truck.
* The problem of emperor succession was a major factor in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
*I love that there is a WikiHow article titled “How to Slow Down Time.”