August 29, 2014 10:18:09 AM
I was channel surfing through a morning program not too long ago and stopped long enough to hear a guest discussing meditation with the CBS hosts. There was the obligatory Harvard doctor who was doing research on the benefits of meditation and then there was a hip-hop mogul who was hawking his book on the subject.
Normally such talking head discussions fall on deaf ears and I can't get away from them quickly enough, but today for whatever reason I got distracted and lingered on the station long enough to hear something that gave me pause.
The phrase that intrigued me was "a calm mind is a creative mind." It started me considering when I have my most productive and creative thoughts. I have often prefaced my latest and greatest ideas with the comment of while I was in the shower this morning or while I was driving. When I say that, I get many heads nodding in understanding around me. For me and apparently for others, the shower and driving offer good thinking time.
With all the hundreds of channels of music and television and our ever-present computer masquerading as a cell phone, we have allowed ourselves to become addicted to watching or hearing something from the time we wake up to when we fall asleep. I have a friend who even sleeps with the military or history channel running all night. There are very few times during the day when the mind isn't challenged to be listening or watching something.
That opportunity to be still and think was an unappreciated pleasure from my years of flying. One of my favorite flight schedules with Delta was to pick up a "red eye" from Seattle or San Francisco back to Atlanta. With a midnight departure, once you switched over from the airport departure controllers to the air traffic controllers for the center of the region you were traveling through, they would often clear you direct to the outer marker in Atlanta. From that moment, it was the glow of the cockpit lights and the light from the stars as you made your way to the east coast sunrise with little interruption in between.
The radio calls were minimal and unless you had a "chatty Cathy" for a copilot, your thoughts were mostly your own. It was silent time that allowed for reflection with the majesty of the solar system as the backdrop. I honestly didn't realize what value that time held until recently when I thought about how I don't have it anymore.
About the time I turned 10 we moved out into the country with almost 15 acres around us. After work, my father would mix a crown and water and go out on the terrace in the back to watch and listen to the whippoorwills and the crickets and the horses as they settled in for the evening quietude. I always thought he was just unwinding from the day but now I am guessing that was one of the few really peaceful times during the day he could claim to just sit and think about anything or nothing.
Technically what I am describing from my personal experience and observations may not be meditation in the accepted sense, but it may be as close as some people will come to conventional meditation and still achieve some of the same benefits. It is that contemplative time that allows for the free flow of thoughts rather than the deliberate focus on some problem or issue plaguing us.
It could be meditation will have to be like exercise, a planned event. I absolutely believe our mental health and temperament are greatly improved by exercise and it would seem that meditation falls into that category as well. If that is the case then it might behoove us to dedicate time for that into every day.
According to Psychology Today the benefits of meditation besides improving creativity are helping to "reduce stress, enhance concentration, improve sleep, manage pain, and lower blood pressure" and they even claim that brief mini-meditations can be done as needed throughout the day whenever you want to calm your mind and relax your body.
I haven't tried it yet, and just on principle it sounds a bit "touchy, feely" for my taste, but in the interest of being open minded, I plan on giving it a go for a couple of weeks to see if there is really something to it. If that doesn't work I just may have to take longer showers.
2. Froma Harrop: Imagine a 2020 street fight between Cuomo and Trump NATIONAL COLUMNS
3. Editorial cartoon for 4-20-18 NATIONAL COLUMNS