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Greater Peace of Mind in 10 Minutes a Day

Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants greater peace of mind. But how do we get there? About eight years ago, I started going to Buddhist meditation classes. I was going through a difficult time and looking for anything that might help. I thought meditation would teach me to clear my mind and transcend reality. I imagined myself reaching a higher plane of existence where my mind would become a sort of glowing blankness. After many years, I can tell you that has not happened. Turns out the purpose of meditation is not to clear your mind. The purpose is to change the way you relate to your thoughts.

Normally, we follow our minds all day long wherever they go. We tend to be either thinking about the past or worried about the future. Rather than being fully engaged in what we’re doing now, we might be focused on our To Do List, whatever inconvenience has come up, or what we think people are thinking of us. Research shows that 80% of our thoughts tend to be negative, and 95% of the thoughts we had today are the same as thoughts we had yesterday. This means that we have well-worn neural pathways of negative thoughts that we tend to repeat over and over and over again.

Meditation is practice at coming out of those thoughts and returning to the present moment. In meditation, we start by choosing an anchor to the present moment, such as the breath or the sounds around us. Each time we notice our mind has wandered, we tell ourselves, “This is just a thought,” and then gently return our attention to the anchor. Meditation is practice at seeing our thoughts as just thoughts. Then we let the thoughts go and return our attention to the present moment. In this way, we actually change the way our brain is wired. With continued practice, it gradually becomes easier in our daily lives to come out of our negative thoughts and reengage in the present moment. Research shows that just 10 minutes a day is enough to change your brain, so that you can start to feel more calm and less anxious.

Go ahead and give meditation a try right now. Learn to come out of your thoughts and return to being in the present. You can get a head start on building peace of mind and alleviating your anxiety.


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