In 2014, I participated in a year long Mindful Schools program to learn how to teach mindfulness to children. It was my first experience with mindfulness, as I had never had a regular "sitting" practice before. In case you aren't familiar, mindfulness isn't about clearing your mind of all thoughts, but rather paying attention to the present moment without judgment. If you have a thought, you notice you are having a thought, and then let it go.
The thing that stuck with me the most from the year was this statistic - texting hits the same opiate receptors in the brain as heroine - which explains why many people are seemingly addicted to their phone. I found this information hard to believe at first, but I was a latecomer to the world of texting. Now I seem to get jittery if my phone isn't within arms reach, and have a hard time getting through my son's hockey game without sneaking a look at it. (All the while tsk tsking the parents who spend the whole time on the phone, and lamenting what has become of society and in person social interaction.)
I started another Mindful Schools course today called Difficult Emotions. I was looking forward to having encouragement to sit again on a regular basis, and return to a practice I found really calming and beneficial, but had let slip by the wayside as life returned to it's frantic pace.
During the first 18 minute video for the course, I had a hard time staying focused as the speaker seemed to drone on at a snail's pace.
"Why is he talking so slow?"
"Oh my goodness, pick up the pace."
"Maybe I'll just surf Facebook while he is talking."
It was then that I realized how insipid this slope really is. How quickly I allow the pace of my thoughts to head off to the races. How my attention span seems to mimic the length of a 3 minute YouTube video.
What would it take to stay in the present moment, and observe my thoughts without judgment? I'm grateful to have the chance to find out, and to practice slowing down again.