We usually identify being on the hamster wheel with multi-tasking or climbing the corporate ladder to name just two. But there is another hamster wheel: The continual flow of thoughts circling in our minds. We go from thought to thought thinking we will arrive somewhere. Eventually we realize we have gone nowhere and more thoughts are added to the wheel.
Recent research from Queen’s University in Canada, revealed that the average person has 6,200 thoughts per day. Though 6,200 is considerably less than previous studies, it still a big number. Additional research shows that 95% of these thoughts are repetitive and 80% are negative. Spending time engaging them is a lot of wasted mental energy.
Before my business career I spent several years as a monk. When I entered the monastery, I asked my teacher: “My mind is full thoughts. When will they end?” He responded: “Five days after you are dead.” That answer was not much consolation because I thought that meditation will help me eliminate thoughts. It does not. That’s not the point of meditation.
Meditation trains our minds to remain focused on what is right in front us and not becoming engaged with the thoughts circling around in our mind. It is one of the ways of focusing our attention on what is most important. There are additional ways. They are all important because our ability to critically think, imagine and create are part of what makes us human.