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August 8, 2014

Learning to Calm the Turbulent Mind. ~ Gadadhara Pandit Dasa

Photo: Gadadhara Pandit Dasa

According to the American Psychological Association, the average person has between 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day.

It’s no wonder we often find ourselves exhausted with little energy at the end of the day.

The question to ask is, how much can the mind take before it gets overwhelmed?

The American Institute of Stress gives us a simple breakdown of the different factors in our lives that cause us stress:

46%—Workload
28%—People issues
20%—Juggling work/personal lives
6%—Lack of job security

Almost half of all stress we experience is connected with our workload. This should come as no surprise since at least half of our waking time is spent with work related activities.

If we’re getting seven hours of sleep, we’re awake for about 17 hours, of which about 10 are spent with work matters.

I like comparing the mind to the hard drive of a computer. Like a hard drive, the mind stores incalculable amounts of data. The gateways to the mind are the senses—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Through our senses, we take in hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of impressions each day.

The amazing thing is that we will not remember 99 percent of all these impressions just like we will not remember 99% of all our thoughts. We can’t even remember all the thoughts we’ve had in the last hour.

Sometimes, we forget people’s names five minutes after hearing them. We embarrass ourselves by zoning out during the middle of a conversation and hoping we don’t get caught.

Our mind is the control center for our entire emotional and physical well-being. When we become stressed or anxious, our entire body feels the effects.

The sad truth is that even though our mind so strongly influences us, we do very little to strengthen it and nourish its needs. To keep our body healthy, we need to eat properly and exercise. The mind needs the same attention and care. As the saying goes, “out of sight out of mind.” Because we can’t see the mind, we forget to take care of it.

It’s important to remember that what goes into the mind affects the body and whatever goes into the body, affects the mind. The following three food and drink items add additional stress to the body.

Caffeine

According to Duke Medicine, “Caffeine’s effects are long-lasting and compound stress.”

Red meat

Red Meat, in addition to raising the risk for colorectal cancer and other health problems, can actually shorten your life.

Alcohol

A CNN Health report states that “Alcohol [is the] most harmful drug, followed by crack and heroin.”

These items may seem to provide stress relief, but in actuality, they increase stress on the body and negatively influence the mind.

If we want to develop greater willpower to overcome these harmful habits and reduce our stress, it’s important for us to consider taking up the practice of meditation.

According to Forbes magazine, “meditation refreshes us…makes us wiser and gentler…and makes us more productive.”

According to the Psychology Today, “…meditation reduces anxiety, stress, and depression.”

Even if it’s only five minutes a day. We can look at it as a small investment into the part of our existence that controls almost everything else about us. It doesn’t have to be long and complicated. Just take a few minutes every day to clear your head, breathe deeply and keep your mind only on our breath. When the mind wanders and starts to plan, just bring it back to the breath.

Here’s a short meditation that I lead toward the end of my TEDx speech.

Good luck and thank you for taking the time for this worthwhile investment.

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Apprentice Editor: Karissa Kneeland / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Gadadhara Pandit Dasa

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