Another great post by Laura that just gives a bit more inspiration to try meditation.
By Laura Garren
Why is it so hard to empty the mind? I manage to do so, every once in a great while, for two or three seconds during my yoga practice. However, I immediately become aware of it, at which point my inner voice jubilantly cries, “Hey, I did it! I’m thinking about nothing!” Which, of course, defeats the purpose.
My occasional brief foray into an empty mind feels wonderful, and I can understand why people seek this state. The brain, which controls everything we do, must love being at rest. Imagine the responsibility born by this three-pound organ: involuntary processes, such as breathing and digestion; voluntary functions, such as following through on an impulse to walk or to pick up an object; figuring out problems and negotiating interactions with other people. The mind boggles, literally.
So why is it so hard to empty the mind of thought? My answer is one of mankind’s greatest inventions: language. With language came thought. We went from visual images of saber-toothed tigers to streams of consciousness and verb chatter, interfering with simple awareness. We’ve come so far, yet at what cost? Not that I would give up language—I’ve seen that happen and it’s not pleasant. My husband lost all form of language to aphasia after suffering a stroke and can no longer talk, read or write. Although we both miss his being able to talk, an advantage is that he lacks an interior monologue, and therefore is able to remain a stable emotional state because he can’t obsess about his condition.
A middle ground does exist, if we can only get there. I got a glimpse of how difficult it is and how wonderful it feels, and I understand why people practice for years to achieve the ability to quiet that chatter. The brain craves the opportunity to rest, at least in part, from the enormous responsibility of taking care of everything. I, for one, plan to continue trying to empty my mind, through mediation and yoga. It’s the least I can do to reward my brain for all its hard work.
Aside: A Theory About Language
Some scientists believe that language was made possible by dogs. According to this theory, when they became domesticated, dogs proved an early detection system for, and protection against, intruders and predators. Humans no longer had to depend upon their own acute visual or auditory awareness, so the areas in the human brain formerly used for these purposes were freed up for other things, such as the invention and development of language.