A Modern Malady

Ever feel like your brain is a small furry creature furiously gathering acorns and then promptly forgetting where the last batch was stored?

Welcome to the club of being a modern human being.

It turns out that the most effective antidote to that squirrel-brain syndrome is to do exactly the opposite--sit still and do nothing. An old Zen adage goes something like this: you should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.

Which is another way of saying, the busier the brain, the greater the need to quiet it.

I’ve been a casual meditator for years but never developed the discipline of meditating on a daily basis. My reasons for resistance are many: it can feel tedious, frustrating, non-creative…plus twenty minutes seems like a big chunk of change in my world.

I’ve since learned it really only takes 10 minutes a day to affect the brain’s wiring.

Structural changes in the brain can be measured after only 6 hours of meditation. That’s about a month of daily 10-minute meditations. Studies show that the potential benefits of regular meditation are significant whether in reducing stress, increasing focusunleashing creativity, or fostering healthier relationships.

Making Some Headspace

There’s a lot more to meditation than you might think. It’s a proactive way of training the mind, like taking your brain to the gym or on a run or to a yoga session. Thanks to some really smart people using smart technology on smart phones, learning to meditate has become ridiculously accessible and, dare I say it, even fun.

The best meditation app out there hands down is Headspace, developed by Andy Puddiecombe, a former Tibetan Buddhist monk, and his business partner, Rich Pierson.

Their mission is to make meditation and mindfulness “accessible, relevant and beneficial to as many people as possible”.

You can sign up for the free Take 10 program, which includes 10 days of 10-minute guided meditations, along with several clever and enlightening short videos.

If you like what you’re experiencing, you can subscribe by month ($13) or by year ($96). The completely free option, of course, is to combine the Take 10 pack (all you will ever really need to know to about meditation) with the timer on your phone.

Some of us, namely Yours Truly, need the infrastructure that a subscription provides, not unlike the obligation of a gym membership that gets one out of bed on many a cold dark wintry morning.

But just like the public library, a whole universe of unobstructed learning is truly right at our fingertips.

So as we begin afresh in this precious sparkling New Year stretched out before us, consider joining me in gifting yourself a year of mindful living, 10 minutes at a time.


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