Try to stop thinking (for 30 seconds)

You can notice one of the most important insights into the human condition in about 30 seconds. It doesn’t require consulting any great books or teachers. It only requires a few moments of looking within. 

Think of the following as a kind of internal science experiment. But it requires no special equipment. Just a timer and your attention. 

Are you ready? Here goes: 

For the next thirty seconds, try to not think. You can close your eyes if you wish, or just stare at the numbers as they as they descend. But whatever you do, just don’t think. 

I’ve got the timer right here, just push play: 

(Feel free to close your eyes; there is a buzzer at the end): 

 How did you do? 

If you’re human, and you’re reading this, chances are that you failed. Stopping your thoughts, even for just thirty seconds, is a seemingly impossible task for most people. If you can’t do it, you’re normal

This is not something that just happens while watching a thirty-second timer. For most of us, this constant thinking happens all day long. 

Why is this important to notice? 

The lesson here is so subtle you can almost look right past it: 

Continually ruminating—as you probably do while driving in commute traffic, standing in an elevator, taking a shower, waiting in the grocery line, or just laying in bed before you go to sleep—diverts your attention from the present moment.