Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Grasshopper brain

My brain has been a little scattered lately, so in order to try to get things back on track and work out why it is trying to run in all directions at once (like a grasshopper* on speed) I tried doing a little bit of my own version of mindfulness meditation.

When I say "my own version" I don't mean that I came up with it myself, I just mean that it is the way that I do it myself. I'm neither a Buddhist nor an expert.

The best brief explanation on how this would work, is just to be aware of, and name the thoughts and general feelings that are going through your head at any moment. You can do this while meditating (i.e. sitting still somewhere quiet and comfortable), or while doing simple actions like driving the car or walking between classes. If you are into journaling, you can even do it in a written form.

You try to keep your head clear, and pay attention to the emotion you are feeling at that moment. Then you name it. Then, try to work out why you are feeling that way, or what these feelings are specifically about and name that, without being judgemental or involved. It is a good way to recognise what you are feeling in an objective way.

I was in my car driving to uni this afternoon, and the conversation in my head was going well, until I discovered that I was rapidly getting bored and annoyed with myself for asking how I was feeling. Some things don't work for all people, all of the time! It did help me focus.

Sadly, I learned that I don't always think very nice thoughts about the people in the other cars on the road around me, or the pedestrians on the side of the road. Who would have guessed that I felt annoyed by the pedestrians walking past me as I was stopped at the traffic lights? And don't even ask what I think about cyclists. (It's usually fear, on their behalf. I have been where they are, and buses are big and scary.)

This, and burning candles are about as new-agey as I get, folks. Actually, actively practicing mindfulness is beginning to attract attention around the place as a good therapy technique. (If you look up "mindfulness" on Pubmed, you can spend hours/days perusing the results. Interesting stuff.) Personally I think that anything that makes you understand yourself better can only be a good thing.

* I tried to find a picture of a grasshopper that didn't make me cringe. I figured I'm not the only person on the planet who can't stand them - ever since I had one land on my face in the middle of the night (a "present" from my cat) as it was flying around the room, I haven't been able to stand the things!

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