Quantifying Mindfulness

StopwatchIn a moment, I will ask you to close your eyes. Write down the time before you close them. Attempt to focus on what you feel, smell and hear. You will notice that thoughts pop up in your head from time to time. When they do, just bring your focus back to your senses.

For me, there are two scenarios that occur:

  1. A thought comes into my head and I immediately dismiss it.
  2. I get lost in a thought for a while. I realize that my mind has wandered off and I attempt to bring my focus back to my senses.

Whenever that second scenario happens to you, write that thought down. Just a brief note identifying it is fine. After you have captured that thought, close your eyes again and repeat the process. Stop after you have written down 5 different thoughts. Write the time that you stopped recording.

All right. Are you ready? Close your eyes and focus on your senses. Come back after 5 different thoughts have come up.

How long did it take you to think of 5 different thoughts? It took 5 minutes for me. I was surprised that I lasted that long. I guess after all the talk and practicing of mindfulness, I am able to fight off thoughts easier.

Three of my thoughts were about writing this post (what the title would be, an image of a stopwatch, and questioning if I needed to close my eyes). Two of them were about potential occurrences within my immediate environment (people possibly stopping by my office and something I needed to do this afternoon).

During that 5 minutes, I found that closing my eyes did not really affect my ability to focus on my senses. Once I was in that mindset, sounds were just as much a distraction as sights were.

I like the idea of doing this every day for just 5 or 10 minutes. After collecting the data, it is going to be interesting to see if there are any kind of trends in my thought patterns. I wonder if it will take longer to get 5 different thoughts to take control. Or perhaps it is just the time of the day or the environment that I am in that has the biggest influence.

I also wonder if there will be trends in the type of thoughts that take me out of mindfulness. People, future events, regrets, happiness? We shall see.

Photo courtesy of wwarby 

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