September 10, 2010

Feeling bored? Unstimulated? Concerned about Alzheimer’s? Click here!

New places to visit. New operating systems. New books, new magazines, new faces.

We’ve been on this kick ever since that first toy we were so thrilled to get no longer excited us after we played with it for a day or a week, and we had to nag our parents to get that other one instead.

Even if you’re not a “seeking out the new” kind of person, even if you’re happy with your routine, you do still want something different. Same coffee, just maybe a different flavor now and then. Or same cuisine, but how about trying that new restaurant. Or same type of hotel experience, just in a different country. “The same… only different” is a motto that Hollywood understands well, as it churns out sequels, remakes, and copies of old formulas to address that part of us that’s happy with minimal changes… while independent filmmakers and artists typically give us fresh stuff, unusual perspectives, ethnic and gender and cultural twists that stand the formulas on their head.

But whether you go for old wine poured into new bottles or something that actually is new wine in new bottles, we’re still prone to that momentary thrill of novelty fading into the ho-hum-ness of the old, and we need another fix. And another. And another.

Unless we live at the survival level, our entire life is based around this cycle.

There is a different way out of the cycle. And it’s something along the lines of what, to paraphrase Marcel Proust, is “to see the old with new eyes.”

The first time you held a styrofoam cup, you might have paid attention to it and how it felt in your hand. The subsequent times you might only pay attention to if for the fact that it’s single-use, it’s wasteful, and it’s environmentally costly. The question is, is it possible to go back to the same kind of pristine mind with which you experienced it (or anything else) for the first time? Can the brain be sensitized again toward those things that make everyday life lack specialness?

Why, yes, glad you asked. It’s called meditation. In as little as twenty minutes a day, sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, paying attention to the mundaneness of your thoughts and drawing your attention back to the sensations of your slow, nasal breath, you can accomplish that pristineness.

Twenty minutes into this, and your brain will have shifted into a “Dude! I’m stoned!” feeling that when you open your eyes and mindfully go back to life will reveal a plethora of sights, scents, sounds, tastes and touch sensations that’ll have you wondering why you don’t do this everyday, all the time.

And well, you know how doing crosswords and assorted math puzzles is supposed to help keep the brain agile and fend off Alzheimer’s? Learning something new may be far better than doing crosswords. Discovering may be far better than learning. And the feeling of discovering a ton of things on a regular basis as a result of that pristine mind may yet be the real deal in delaying or even negating the possibility of Alzheimer’s.

So if you’re bored, or feeling unstimulated, or want to do something that may help your mind someday, just one less news program a day or twenty fewer minutes on-line will donate the needed time to get your mind to that “everything feels new” state. Or that “Dude! I’m stoned” feeling, whichever you prefer.

Just bear in mind you don’t get the munchies in this particular brand of stoned.

(Need help with more structure on meditating? Check out my “The Top 5 Tricks to Meditating Regularly.”)

Photo Credit: Diego Sevilla Ruiz

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