“Remember to clean the toilet…when the snow melts, pick up the dog poo…and send that email to Susan…why does my knee itch?…yawn…no Stewart, I am not petting you now…Alexa, what is the temperature?…I wonder when the bird was last fed…ommmmm”
This is what it sounds like in my head for the first minutes of meditation every morning. My mind can be like an incessant toddler demanding attention, yanking my pant leg, repeating the same request over and over again. I am pretty sure she experiences this as one of the only quiet moments of the day and wants to make sure she gets all her concerns stated before the sun comes up. As the minutes progress, I thank her for the reminders and tell her to “scoot and go play”. Eventually my mind calms down…allowing the mantra du jour to take the place of the demands and I begin to notice my body relax into a quiet rhythm of “in and out” breaths.
It isn’t headline news to say our minds are busy. Thoughts try to keep us safe, or attempt to get us what we think we need. (Read: Make people happy, keep it together, make sure everyone likes me and no one is mad at me…you get the drift) Experts guess that we have 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day, which breaks down to about 3000 an hour, or 50 a minute. That is a normal day! No wonder we can feel overwhelmed and want to medicate ourselves into what we think of as some sort of “peace and quiet.”
The challenge is not the number of thoughts. It is that we BELIEVE the thoughts that fly around in our heads and we follow their advice. Some are lovely, maybe even uplifting – however we all have repeating messages that tell us some version of how inadequate we are, how we are not enough, and that we will never be enough. It is a rough crowd that hangs out between our ears. Researchers say 98% of the thoughts we think today, are the same ones we thought yesterday. 98%.
Rather than staying stuck on repeat, consider this: first of all, try paying attention to your thoughts. See if you can notice what is actually running through your head. Second, think of a way to interrupt the pattern of negative thoughts. For me, it is meditation or a walk in nature. My daughter skates, my husband fishes… These are helpful “pattern interrupts.”? What might be your pattern interrupt? This week, explore your thoughts, what do you hear? What might be one way to change what you are listening to? We can change our thoughts, one moment at a time.
Practicing the “pattern interrupt” with you,