TV. Mobile Phones. MP3s. Computers. People. Every day we are surrounded by sound, and it becomes so much a part of our daily routine that we hardly notice it. But its effects can have a serious impact.
In 2009, Professor Clifford Nass, who works at Stanford University in the US, conducted research on the effects that ‘media multitasking’ (e.g. using more than one electronic device at the same time, such as answering an email while on the phone) can have on us mentally. Needless to say, those who did a high amount of media multitasking gave a lower performance in certain tasks than those who did a low amount.
I have to admit that I am one of those high amount media multitaskers. I have to do it when I’m at work, that can’t be helped, but when I do get time to myself I don’t stop: I tweet through TV programmes and I text while listening to music. I’m not saying that any of these things shouldn’t be enjoyed (but I do watch an unhealthy amount of TV and Twitter’s just too addictive) but it can get a bit much and cook your brain, so wouldn’t it be nice to switch everything off for a short while?
I read an article on TIME Magazine’s website that mentioned a study about meditation. In that study it was found that “intensive meditation can help people focus their attention and sustain it — even during the most boring of tasks“. It was also found in another study that meditation can improve your brain’s performance and concentration by exercising its ‘muscle’, the grey matter. Personally I find it really hard to concentrate on anything for a long time, especially if it’s boring, and my brain’s grey matter is more like slop than a muscle, so I decided to give this meditation thing a try.
My erudite galpal Helen showed me a book based on this idea of daily meditation, called ‘Get Some Headspace: 10 Minutes Can Make All The Difference’ by Andy Puddicombe (which I have already bought as you are reading this). In it he gives you different meditation techniques that you can use when you want those golden minutes of silence, which apparently have ‘life changing results’. I can’t wait to read it, but until then, every day when I get home from work, I sit in my room and meditate for ten minutes.
I’ve been doing it for about five days now, but honestly I’m finding it difficult. I’m constantly thinking about something, whether it’s a song (or two songs mixed together which I can’t stand – what is wrong with my brain?!), or a book I’d like to read, or something I need to buy, or some stupid thing I did in school which was like OVER TEN YEARS AGO. But I’m willing to persevere. When I told my mum about it she understood completely. She said that, like most things, it was something that couldn’t be perfected overnight – it was going to take time and determination. So hopefully around, say, 2020, I’ll be able to just shut down my brain and be in complete silence for ten minutes without difficulty! Hurray!
I’ll try and give you an update on how it’s going after a couple of weeks or so, but for now, why not give it a go yourselves? Just ten minutes of your time every day to spend in silence. And by the way, if you want to read Andy Puddicombe’s book to get you started, you can do so here.