Updated: Nov 18, 2020
This fact still blows my mind AND YET it fits. Studies show that we most likely average over 6,000 thoughts per day. Another study shows that "an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. If we repeat those negative thoughts, we think negative way more than we think positive thoughts."
We will leave human negativity bias for another day coming soon. BUT, lets address the very "un-present in the moment" mind. Also dubbed "default mode mind," the everyday train of thought (ETT) is, in many ways, breaking new records daily for it's interruptive effects and damage to our state of calm and focus in any one moment of time.
I like the image that "train of thought" draws. I picture a huge, sleek, built for speed locomote coming at me from the past or speeding away to the future, denying me of the present moment, which, truly, is the only living moment. We ruminate over past events, what we should have done differently, often blowing them out of proportion and giving them huge weight with constant revisit. Modern technology cuts in constantly, our phones dinging, calendars updating, social media enticing us and making us feel like we need this or need that item, holidays and other events approaching. And then there is worry. There is plenty in our world to concern us. We spend a great deal of time worrying about and trying to control future possibilities.
SO WHAT DO WE DO? We call in some of the most powerful and proven techniques of our time to STOP THAT TRAIN, call in focus, live in the moment, command ease when needed, perhaps even catching that spark of joy that one small event or connection, thought or occurrence, recognized and truly felt, can bring.
1. BREATH - I often hear Aimee say, "you cannot have a future or past breath." This is fact. Strong truths can anchor us, as can our breath. The breath is always there, a tool even closer to us physically than a swiss army pocket knife, so why not use it to anchor the mind? But awareness comes first. We need to become aware of when we are stressed, when our mind is not in the task or interaction at hand, how it makes our body and mind feel. Then, intervene with your mindful breathing techniques, from which the incredible mind/body possibilities of Relaxation Response come. You cannot be anywhere else if you are paying attention to your breath. And once you attach to breath, you can come back out to ONE task, one point, one time. Using breath awareness again whenever needed, which may be two minutes later:).
2. SUPERHMAN IMAGERY - Those who have taken our classes know that Aimee and I have a visual technique to stop the past and future thoughts when practiced awareness alerts us of the intrusion. We visualize ourselves on a railroad track, the past to one side, the future on the other. With a vision of wonder woman in our minds (I prefer the newer version and modern attire;), we jump on the tracks, powerful arms stretched out to stop the train from bowling us over from the right and/or racing us to the future left. Strongly, powerfully, "I am here now and I will be in this moment." If you combine 1 and 2, breath and visualization, just wow right?
3. SENSES - In our PART course, we start learning mindfulness by chewing on one teeny tiny piece of food and noting all of its qualities. Amazingly, you can bring on a state of ease and present moment simply by doing this. (not to mention more gratitude for what we eat, how it tastes, better digestion, etc.;) Why is this simple act so potentially powerful in stopping the default- mode- racing- modern- mind? Like the breath, when we turn attention to our senses, we are calming the thinking, analyzing, perseverating, worrying, planning thoughts that typically take 90% of our waking hours. Mindful Nature Connection
is another great and powerful example (deeper blog for another day). In essence, combining the critical and transformational benefits of being in our natural world with the focused breath and BRINGING IN THE SENSES, is an amazing three shot bang for your buck. When we attach to senses - hearing, smell, taste, touch, sound, we connect more powerfully with where we are at the moment, truly connect, and stop the train, relax. As an aside, it is from this place that great creativity can spring, because the mind has been cleared out a bit. I often go into nature mindfully when I need to solve a problem or call in creativity.
Yes, there is a VERY purposeful reason we are called breatheIN2IT;). Whether it be Meditation, Mindfulness, HeartMath, Nature Connection, all start with the breath, or are EMPOWERED by attaching to the breath and it's ability to bring the mind to present AND calm the nervous system.
Can you imagine if those 6,000 thoughts were even 1/10th present moment? Again, just wow.