Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Brain Breaks for the Meditation Challenged

My mind is never quiet.

I’ll never really be sure if this is “normal.” I’ve talked to other women that concur. Perhaps it’s the female brain that’s always going. Always reliving past conversations. Always thinking about the future. Worrying. Planning.

A Lego version of myself. I think she's doing Warrior III.
But I’ve also been a part of numerous yoga classes, the instructor insistent it’s possible to “empty your mind.”

That instruction is sure to bring me stupid thoughts. Are people looking at me through this big window? Why couldn’t that woman put her mat a little further away from mine? This music is awful. I can still hear the road.

It goes on and on.

“Envision your thoughts floating away like little puffy clouds,” the instructor continues.

I try to put the road noise and the music on a cloud, but they won’t float away. I decide everyone is lying about their mindful meditation. They’re clearly just compiling a grocery list with their eyes closed. They must be.

Since meditation is a bust, it’s become necessary to look elsewhere for mental rest during my waking hours. As technology advances, I find myself more and more having my mindless time on social media. There’s something intoxicating about the scrolling newsfeed. Always more little snippets of different topics. My mind can wander and jump without judgment.

Of course, the things I read during idle moments filled with screen time entertainment aren’t good. All the trouble in the world is just a hashtag tap away. More fuel for overactive ramblings of a constantly active brain. Add to that a compulsion to check in and see if anything is happening and the enterprise becomes not rest but fixation.

So I’m cutting way back but it’s left a bit of a hole in my life. Sometimes I need to sit down during the day. And sitting quietly, unoccupied doesn’t work for me. Since there must be some replacement for the social media, I’ve come up with some idle time fillers that occupy my mind without overstimulating it.

Sudoku

From sudoku.com: The popular Japanese puzzle game Sudoku is based on the logical placement of numbers. An online game of logic, Sudoku doesn’t require any calculation nor special math skills; all that is needed are brains and concentration.

An iPad app version takes the edge off my mental wandering. I’ve found it even relaxes me to work on one last puzzle before bedtime.



Crocheting

Repetitive motions and a desire not to mess up and waste yarn make crocheting a good mental relaxation activity. Basic crocheting is easily learned from a few steps on an eHow article. So far I’ve created almost two shoddy looking scarves. When I finish the second scarf, I plan to make a bunch of coasters.



After just a short time of heavily restricted Facebook and Twitter use, I do feel better. I don’t reach for my phone at all anymore and I don’t feel addicted to the iPad for entertainment. Sometimes, I even let unanswered questions go without googling them. Though I’ve long given up on my mind ever being “empty,” it seems to be filling with better stuff. That has to be just as good as meditation.