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Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's on your mind? 9/16 - 9/23 Days 259 - 266

What's on your mind...

I don't know about you all, but I easily think no fewer than 164,283 different thoughts a day.  My mind is constantly racing, jumping from "this idea" to "that project" to "what needs to be done" to "what I want to do" to "more of this" and even "more of that."  My little neurons and all the other pieces that allow our brains to produce thoughts must get tired from the marathons they run on a day to day basis in my head.

I have always thought this is problematic... aren't we supposed to be able to quiet our minds?   Isn't that what "they" say?  That to be able to relax, unwind, let go, we need to learn to shut off our minds?

I have gotten frustrated with this from time to time because I struggle with it.  I have tried meditating, but typically to no avail.  Whenever I get settled into my meditative spot and try to sit still, I start thinking about everything I want to do when I am done.  Then I get mad at myself for not being able to focus solely on the meditative process.

This year, more than any other, I have learned how to be more present, to be living more in the moment.  I spent a great deal of time talking about what a wonderful feeling that was during my Mt. Jacinito hike.  As the year has gone on I have found myself being more open to experiencing the challenge's and the day to day parts of life than I was before, but my mind is still constantly running wild.

Yesterday one of my good friends asked me if I had been to the Labyrinth at one of the local churches.  Not only had I not been there, I did not even know what one was.  He explained and I thought it sounded interesting so I choose to have that be one of the challenges for today.

Off I headed to the Labyrinth and what I found was a small square probably about 20 feet wide and 20 feet long.  Within that square was a maze like design.  The description said walk with a question on your mind.  My friend had told me that the point of it was not how fast you finish, or to even finish, the point was to just be with your thoughts, to be engaged in the process of it.

I finally settled on my question and started walking the Labyrinth.  The whole time I was trying and trying to keep my question as my sole thought, but it just was not happening.   All these other thoughts were jumping in and out of my mind.  I started to get frustrated at my seeming inability to focus on one thing, when something cool suddenly happens.

For whatever reason I start talking out loud to myself.  I talked about all the thoughts and questions I listed above.  I asked myself why is it so hard for me to tune my mind out... why do I have difficulty mediating?  A realization washed over me as I began to answer my own questions...

Why would I want to turn my mind off when I enjoy the thoughts I am thinking?  Why would I want to stop creative ideas from popping into my head.  If I am actively learning each and everyday how to be more present, why do I want to try and sit still and meditate to experience what I am already experiencing??? WHY WHY WHY???

The biggest smiled appeared on my face and I began laughing out loud.  Meditation, as I understand it is an exercise of clearing your mind, of being present.  At least that has always been my goal when going into it.  Why would I want to clear my mind of thoughts I am enjoying thinking?

I think a greater exercise for us all is rather than focusing our energy in trying to quiet our minds, lets instead focus on changing what our minds think about.  Instead of focusing on the bills that need to be paid, the weight that needs to be lost, focus on the creative opportunities you can pursue to make money and the great workout session you will have later tonight.  Don't worry so much about clearing your mind, focus on enriching your mind!

This does not mean we are going to eliminate those pesky negative thoughts altogether, they will inevitably sneak up from time to time.  What it does mean is we should focus more on celebrating and enjoying the positive ones that do exist within our head.  This means all the  "this idea," "that project," and the "what I want to do's" are really the thoughts we should spend more time embracing and working on nurturing.

 I feel as if I have just solved an ancient riddle and added one more thought to the 164,283 that are already running around in my head.  "It's ok, in fact, it is great to have lots of thoughts running through your head when you are enjoying them."  Hmmm...  I think I am going to go back to spending some more time in my head :)

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Carpe Diem,


  1. This is the rare time when I would actually disagree with something you wrote. I completely agree with your insight found in the labyrinth. However, I differ on the definition of meditation. I don't think there is any religion or spiritual center that would advocate clearing out your thoughts.

    From what I understand, meditation is a time for non-judgment. A few minutes of heightened, non-reactive awareness to observe what is in our racing, jumping minds and consciousness. By doing so, this brings about compassion for yourself and others, which then leads to more loving acts towards ourselves and others.

    You're already doing this and encouraging this - every time you take a hike, or write a blog post, you are encouraging us to be present, and not judge perceived setbacks. By having us all participate in the sunrise/sunset project, or share our stories, you enforce the belief that we are all in this together.

    It takes much more courage to face life in such a raw way - observing and not judging the ups and downs. Learning to not judge our process is the difficulty people find in meditation. And this is what makes your journey so different than someone just ticking off a testosterone-fueled "bucket list."

    I especially want to emphasize that so many of my insights about this have been learned by you! You have taught me so much about not beating myself up... so often I felt frustrated by my slow process... but you listen, observe, help source the root of the hurt and find a way to make it funny, and all of a sudden, my mind shifts back to positive again... except for the flowing robes and accent, not so different from the Dalai Lama:)

  2. There was a test on this once. I do not know who the people were, but this is how my martial arts matrer explained it. Two men in meditation, their heart and brain rythms being monitored in their meditative state. The first his reading showed a real slow and calm heart rate and no mental waves, which is what most are taught to achieve. The second, his heart rate was even lower than the first, but his brain waves were measured off the grid. This is where I am taught to be, according to my master. To have my physical body in a constantly relaxed state. Energy is always positive, never blocked from stress, never tense. Even when placed in a fighting situation. The brain is the area to have constant awareness instead. To be present always to deduce, create, be open, aware. It is balance. In. keeping with teachings of opposites for balance. Always choose calm within the body, movement in thought. Good day to you.

  3. I just feel everyone needs some quiet time, calm. I am glad that I am able to quiet my mind and think positive thoughts about my life and the world. I meditate in my own way, not by the book, like yoga.
    I do agree with Jana's comments.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I hope you continue to have some peace of mind even with a million things running through your mind at once. Continue to live your best life.

  4. "Three slow deep breaths and follow your breath." Those were the first instructions I received at my first class on meditation. "Whenever your monkey mind takes over, whenever a thought pops into your head, repeat to yourself - 'back to the breath'" At first I thought "Why? I like my thoughts", but by the second week I understood that I was able to enjoy being in the present moment and could calm my monkey mind down whenever I wanted to, which is important for a creative thinker.

    I just Googled to find out where there are labyrinths throughout the world. I've wanted to experience one, for a long time, and now I hope to visit some during my upcoming trips -- AND find some in SoCal. Thanks, Jesse, for reminding me of that.