This week a friend and I were commiserating about our inability to calm our minds. Coincidentally, the next day another friend posted this on Facebook:
Nighttime. Inevitably that’s when my mind goes into overdrive—planning schedules and menus, making mental lists, writing blogs in my head, replaying recent encounters and conversations, worrying about family hundreds of miles away … endless scenarios.
Not that it’s in low gear in daytime, either. Likely I have what Buddhists call a monkey mind, one that jumps from one thing to another with lots of associated thoughts rushing around.
Or maybe I have short telomeres.
A two-year-old study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science suggested that restless minds could be linked to aging cells. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, looked at whether being able to focus on the ‘here and now’ predicts better health and longevity. They measured telomeres, little caps at the ends of cells’ chromosomes, to see how fast bodies were aging. Telomeres shorten with age and, sure enough, women with wandering minds had shorter telomeres.
The scientists advised brief periods of mindful breathing to calm minds. Really?! That’s exactly what I can’t do, and neither can my friend. Back to our conversation: I told her that I am aware of the accolades and benefits of meditation but have never been able to keep my mind from, well, thinking. She shared that when she began dating her husband, who can meditate for hours, she tried meditating for his sake. He encouraged her by suggesting that she continually count to 10 for a half hour and if a thought entered her mind she should start over. “I never made it to two,” she told him.
This is the same friend who several months ago proclaimed “I like my busy mind!” when a mutual friend was preaching to us about “being in the now.”
Me, too. Thank you. Her statement vindicated me.
Oh, how I struggled to pay attention to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now CDs while driving to and from work several years ago when that was all the hype. But I constantly backtracked to play what I missed while my mind took me elsewhere … totally out of the now.
Certainly I get it that “now” is all we really have, but my mind appears to be addicted to two-way time traveling. And apparently I like those rides.
I don’t buy that aging excuse, either. I honestly can’t remember not having a busy mind. Or mouth.
While I profess to having tact and a filter, I admit to often blurting out what is on my busy mind. Frequently it comes totally out of the blue, to the dismay of my boyfriend who has no clue what I am talking about. He maintains that I talk too much. In fact, he relishes (always) winning our playful challenges of who will talk first.
Must be true, though. My ex-husband, a police chief, once gave me what I initially thought was going to be valuable advice: “If you ever get kidnapped, start talking. They will pay me to take you back.”