Whilst researching for an essay on Modern Mindfulness I came across a study I want to share about how uncomfortable we are with our thoughts and the lengths we'll go to, to get away from them.
Ok so get this; participants were invited to spend 10-15 minutes alone in a room, with nothing to do but think. Afterwards most participants reported they had not enjoyed the experience, they found their mind wandered. Which isn't surprising is it? People prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, we habitually distract ourselves with books, phones and news online.
What makes this study so interesting is just how unwilling some of us are to be left alone with our thoughts. The participants were put back in a room for 10-15 minutes and presented with the option to once more do nothing, or; press a button that would deliver a painful electric shock to themselves.
The participants had all received the electric shock before this second stint in a room by themselves, and everyone said they would pay money not to receive an electric shock like this again, given to how unpleasant it felt.
So... into the room they go to be alone with their thoughts or opt out of that alone time and self administer a painful electric shock. 67% of men took that option, and 25% of women. The researchers concluded from this that
"Most people seem to prefer to be doing something than nothing, even if that something is negative".
It's difficult to direct and focus our mind, if left to itself, the mind can wonder, or stray to darker more anxious spaces.
This is not new information. Humans have recognised the challenge of being with ourselves for millennia. This poor chap was trying to meditate 3000 years ago, but someone was noisily carving a stone impression of him and his jagged arms (earliest form of insta?)
So rest easy that you're not alone, and there are mindfulness, meditation and yoga practices to support your kind and gentle training of your mind and body. It's going to take a while, but what's the rush?
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Keep enjoying these blogs which offer bitesize (and sometimes witty) insights. But if you're interested to read a little more, email me and I'll send you some book recommendations.