Have you tried thinking less? How long do you think you could keep Covid-19 out of your mind?
If you want to forget about the virus for a bit, try this. Close your eyes and concentrate on nothing but your breathing. Concentrate on your full inhale and then your full exhale. From the instant you first feel the air on your nostrils or lips to the moment it finishes going out. Notice everything you can about the breath. Focus on your breath in and out 10 times. Nothing but the breath. After 10 ins and 10 outs open your eyes. How good is a little break from this stupid bloody situation we find ourselves in?
I've been running a no-vid-19 in recent days. It is hard. It cost me about $200 on my Radio Hauraki show. I'm personally paying out $20 to the first caller through whenever I mention the virus. Turns out shutting up about the situation for a stretch of time is tough. But little mental breaks are doable.
Even a split second here and there. Just taking a moment to concentrate fully on turning a door handle, sipping a drink or petting your dog. Colin, now there is a guy who hasn't been thinking about things too much. He's so happy at the moment. So stoked his pack is home all day. Dogs really live in the moment. Whatever is going on they are present. You just have to jump up and down in front of them and say their name and they are ready to party. No matter what they were doing. Maybe we need to get more dog-like. Not so much the barking at strangers and butt-sniffing. Just the living in the moment.
"Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future." – Seneca.
Taking little breaks from your thoughts is like restarting your laptop when it's going slow. You just seem to run better afterwards. The more you do it the easier it becomes. This is, of course, a gateway to meditation. A word that ironically stresses people out.
Those who push meditation often come across like those who knock on doors selling religion. Back in the day when people talked meditation at me I used to think, "that sounds boring", "don't tell me what to do" and "get away from me you stinking hippy".
If my mid-twenties self found out I was writing a pro meditation article he would hate me. He'd ignore my calls. He might even wedgy me. But screw that guy. No one liked him anyway. I'm running this ship now and the ship is mediating 20 minutes a day.
The old me spent his life trying to quiet his spinning mind with noise, screens and booze. Which kind of worked. In that, it changed the subject. But really he was just opening up more tabs in his lame little browser. Booze may quieten the mind at night but it will really get you thinking crazy anxious thoughts the next day.
My gateway to meditation was the celebrated American neuroscientist Sam Harris. I was using his Making Sense podcast to help me get to sleep at night. To quieten the anxious thoughts when the lights go out. The guy talks to interesting people. Topics cover everything from hostage negotiation to artificial intelligence experts and superbug fans. Every now and then the great man would bang on about the benefits of meditation. His podcast on the topic with Stephen Fry is great for anyone with doubts on the subject.
Anyway, before you know it I was reading Mr Harris' Waking Up book and subscribing to his Waking Up Meditation app. Never looked back. Mediating 20 minutes a day and feeling more sane and focused than I ever have in my life. There are lots of apps out there: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer. They all work. But I prefer Waking Up. It's strong on the science, low on the hippy spiritual vibes. Also, if you can't afford the subscription, you can email Sam Harris and he'll give it to you for free. He's that kind of a guy.
People who meditate daily include Art Green, Jeremy Wells, Bill Gates, Kendrik Lamar, Arnold Schwarzenegger, my mum (when she was with us), me and Joe Rogan.
"Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future." – Seneca
This is a crazy time. Your mind is full of spinning virus-related thoughts. You might need a restart. A brief holiday in the present. So take a break from thinking. It feels so good.