Are you aware of a wandering mind?

Or can you focus intently on what you are doing and not get distracted?

I was at my annual Australian Rehabilitation Medicine conference at the weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed a three hour workshop on Mindfulness with Dr Craig Hassed. We had opportunities to practise mindfulness, communicate while the other party is distracted or fully attentive, and do mental arithmetic under time and audience pressure!!!

Craig presented many research articles he has either been involved in or referenced in his talk. One of the very interesting facts about a wandering mind and longevity relates to telomeres. What is a telomere? Well it is similar to the end of a shoelace and comes out of either side of the coiled up DNA in each cell. When we are born we have long telomeres and as we age our telomeres shorten. Is there anything that makes them shorten more rapidly? Yes a wandering mind…. People who worry a lot or who have anxiety may appear 10 years older than their true age.

So if you want to maintain your youthfulness, why not give regular meditation a go. If you can manage even 5 minutes twice daily you may well notice some benefits. You could find a guided meditation online or find a quiet place to sit/lie down, close your eyes, scan your body from your toes to your head, listen and focus on your breathing, and if you notice thoughts then let them go and return to focusing on your breathing. There is no need for “perfection” in meditation, rather taking the time to sit down and not be connected with anyone or anything than yourself for a few minutes is just right.