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According to an article in the Huffington Post, humans have about 50,000 thoughts each day. (1) While some researchers estimate it to be more like 70,000, others say there are 12,000 thoughts per day for the average human. No matter how you look at it, many of us think too much and have a difficult time turning the thoughts off.
Too many thoughts can over-stimulate the nervous system, leaving the body tired, exhausted and unable to cope with stress like it used to in the old days. Many blame it on age, but according to Ayurveda, it is the non-stop mental chatter and incessant thinking that can not only disturb the mind, but your microbes and body to boot. (2)
Excess thinking can be likened to the processing speed and capacity of your computer. If you do not re-boot it, dump the cookies and cache and clear the history regularly, it will start to lock up on you. But, perform a simple reset and you are back surfing the web and changing the world once again.
Humans too have to reset their internal computer, or soon they find themselves unable to handle stress with the side effect of the body breaking down. The trick is figuring out how to stop all this thinking.
According to Ayurveda, there are three different kinds of thinking that get us into trouble:
- Conscious thinking
- Unconscious thinking
- Subconscious thinking
Conscious thinking refers to the thoughts you are aware of having right now as you read this. It is those thoughts you are aware of as you have them, thoughts about the past and future. If you are consciously aware of them, they are conscious thoughts.
Unconscious thinking refers to the thoughts that are in your head that you are not thinking about right now. They involve all the things your have to do that day, places to be, people to meet. You might not have all those thoughts on your mind right at this moment, but they remain just under your conscious awareness. They are just a thought away.
Subconscious thinking is the nervous system processing that goes on without us ever being aware of it. Your mind is thinking subconscious thoughts to keep the heart beating, the liver detoxing, the lungs breathing and your muscles moving. There are an innumerable amount of such sub-conscious thoughts.
Meditation is the Tool
When you add all this thinking up and consider its direct relationship to health, it becomes clear that it is critical for everyone to have a thought-reducing tool to regularly reset the human nervous system. Perhaps one of the most well-studied stress management tools is the practice of meditation.
The prestigious Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) recently did a review of over 18,000 studies on meditation, and ultimately suggests meditation as a tool for psychological stress and well-being. (3) In fact, here was their own conclusion:
“Conclusions and Relevance: Clinicians should be aware that meditation programs can result in small to moderate reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress. Thus, clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program could have in addressing psychological stress.”
Dr. John’s Comments
I have been practicing meditation since 1975 and teaching it for the past 15 years. Throughout my experience, I have found three common hurdles:
- People have a hard time doing it.
- People don’t stick with it.
- People don’t actively take the benefits into their daily lives.
With these principles in mind, I developed a meditation practice called the Transformational Awareness Technique (TAT): Six Meditations for Emotional Freedom. Anyone can do it, you have to love it to stick with it, and once you learn it, there are real live action steps required to experience the benefits in your everyday life.
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