“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”
Killingsworth, M.A., & Gilbert, D.T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330, 932.

Our mind tends to wander... as much as 46.7% of the day!
Our mind tends to wander… even when doing something pleasant!

Would you believe that the average person’s mind strays from the here-and-now experience a whopping 46.9% of an average day… even when doing something enjoyable?!  That’s what Killingsworth and Gilbert learned when they completed their ingenious study of 2,250 adults in the United States.  When randomly questioned via an iPhones app, participants provided  (1) a happiness rating, (2) a description of their current activity, and (3) their response to a mind wandering question that consisted of four options:

    • No, I’m not thinking of something other than what I’m currently doing.
    • Yes, I’m thinking of something more pleasant than what I’m currently doing.
    • Yes, I’m thinking of something neutral than what I’m currently doing.
    • Yes, I’m thinking of something more unpleasant than what I’m currently doing.

Almost across the board, participants were less happy whenever they strayed from a focus on their current activity.  Interestingly, the quality of their current activity (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) did not predict mind-wandering. “Just This” is an exercise that can build our awareness of what is happening as it is happening.

Instructions:

Find a spot where you can be alone for 3-5 minutes. Because stress doesn’t quiet itself down on its own, we have to nudge it a little.  Don’t try to force yourself to do more than you can do without irritation.   Small steps will generally trump strides when it comes to brain training!

  • Pause and take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe, allowing your breath to become relaxed and gentle. Notice the fullness of each breath cycle, breathing in and out for a couple of breath cycles.
  • Now, with each inhalation, say JUST and with each exhalation, start to count to yourself, beginning with 1 and counting until you reach 10 exhalations. If you forget your place in the sequence, that’s okay. Simply start to count at 1 again. Gradually increase the number of repetitions of this sequence to strengthen your brain’s capacity to sustain focus.
  • Now, with each inhalation, say THIS and with each exhalation, start to count to yourself, beginning with 1 and counting until you reach 10 exhalations. If you forget your place in the sequence, that’s okay. Simply start to count at 1 again. Gradually increase the number of repetitions of this sequence to strengthen your brain’s capacity to sustain focus.
  • Finally, with each breath in, say JUST and with each breath out say THIS and repeat “Just this” as you breathe calmly.
  • Allow yourself to experience a state of ease as you open your eyes and go about your day.

Guided Podcast of Just This Practice 
"Just This" Guided Meditation (5:20)
“Just This” Guided Meditation (5:20)

You can download the mp3 of the Just This Practice via my Public Dropbox site.  You can also listen to it on your computer using the podcast below.

I’m including an address to the link in case the podcast doesn’t work.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/98720657/Just%20This.mp3

© 2012 Maria Hunt
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