Mindfulness Made Easy

Mindfulness, by many, is thought of as a stress-reducing activity.

If I just sit calmly and breathe slowly for five to ten minutes a day I will be less anxious.

While it’s certainly a start, that’s not the inherent point of mindfulness practice. Instead, the “goal” (although having a goal kind of defeats the purpose) is to train your mind not to think every thought it has.

That may sound confusing, mostly because it is. However, those new to meditation will quickly realize just how many thoughts you can have in 30 seconds.

It’s true. Our minds race endlessly — all day, all night, and even while we’re sleeping. Research shows that the average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same thoughts as the day before. That means of the 60,000 thoughts you will have today, 57,000 of them will be the same thoughts you had yesterday.

How often do you stop to sit and slow it down for just a few moments?

I think of the mind as a baggage carousel at the airport. Each thought is another hunk of luggage taking your attention away from the present. When our minds are racing, it’s like when the buzzer sounds and hundreds of bags are chaotically released from the curtain, cascading over each other onto the carousel.

Meditation helps us slow down that carousel. We can stop its spinning, pick up a bag (a thought), and take a closer look at it.

“Why am I thinking this thought?”

By slowing down and looking at each thought one by one, we can see how silly or time-consuming some thoughts are.

Then, just as easily, we can gently put the bag back on the carousel and watch it go away.

This has real-life practicality as well. Once I started meditating regularly, I was able to notice situations, either at work or while sitting in traffic, and calmly acknowledge my emotions rising before letting them consume me. For example, if someone cut me off in traffic, instead of cursing and hoping they have a miserable day, I could think “What does this anger do for me?

Previously, I’d let that thoughtless action consume my body, mind, and emotions. That’s a waste. Instead, I’ve learned to laugh when those things happen — thinking about how much time I used to spend being angry for no good reason.

Meditation has nothing to do with stopping thoughts. It is impossible to stop thoughts. It’s about feeling your emotions and not pushing them away. Mindfulness starts with accepting your thoughts and knowing you don’t have to let yourself become them.


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