Ted Talk Tuesday #23: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

Watching TED Talks is a popular pastime at CN&CO. We visit TED.com regularly to clear our heads, have a laugh or get inspired. TED Talks open our minds, spark new ways of thinking and can lead to some very interesting conversations. Each week we pick a favourite and publish it on a Tuesday, because we like how “TED Talk Tuesday” sounds.

This week’s talk was selected by CN&CO team member Emiliana Adriano. Here’s why she chose it:

Living in the extremely fast paced 21st century comes with a majority of perks: faster internet, advanced technology, easy accessibility to places and spaces and of course, the general hustle and bustle of city life. However, on the flip side, we often tend to lose ourselves in the chaos and general stresses that seem to consume our thoughts, lifestyles and day to day function.

How often do we really step back, take a breath and do absolutely NOTHING? No reminiscing, no planning, no thinking or feeling; no drinking tea or coffee, worrying about where you need to be or what the rest of your day looks like, or the goal you have in mind…..just doing absolutely nothing, for a whole 10 minutes?

Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.”It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.”

In our day to day routine, we often become so distracted that we are no longer present in the world we live and tend to miss out on the essential parts of what makes us truly happy, as our attention is focused on the next step, our next move and how we’re going to solve the next problem.

The statistics show that our minds are in thought 47% of the time, and that mind wondering is directly related to unhappiness.

Mindfulness expert Andy Pubbicombe believes that all it takes is 10 minutes of mindfulness a day seeing meditation as a preventative for stress and anxiety, “Most people assume that meditation is about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it’s about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going.”

Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more fully and understand ourselves better. When we become aware of the present moment, we are able to witness our thoughts with a relaxed, focused mind and gain perspective on what we put our energy into.

“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience,” says Professor Williams, “and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful. This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.”

I cannot deny the fact that I am one of many that often get inundated with thoughts, emotions and stresses and in doing so, I tend to over exaggerate my concerns.

As Andy Pubbicombe says in his talk, we cannot change what happens to us but we can change how we perceive it. All we need to do is take 10 minutes to familiarize ourselves with the present moment which will bring focus, calm and clarity to the chaos of every day life.

All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.