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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Count Sheep

We all know the old cliché about "counting sheep" when we can't sleep.

But how does it work?

It's simple, really. There are two parts to it: "counting" and "sheep." Seriously.

This occupies two "sides" of your brain. (What keeps most people awake at night is too much "brain noise.")

Think of it as "verbalization" and "visualization."

Verbalization is that inner monologue (or dialogue) that seems to run constantly when we're awake. When counting slow moving sheep, we hold a number in our mind, crowding out words. (Monks count their breaths, or chant mantras.)

Visualization is the movies we run in our mind. If we replace them with something pleasant-but-boring, like sheep, the mind calms down.

"Counting" and "sheep," get it?

Of course, it doesn't have to be sheep. It could be classic cars, or pretty people, or dollar bills. Whatever.

Now, here's what makes this all special: it's not just for going to sleep!

Our monkey brains could stand to be stopped several times a day, just to give us a little peace.

Try it during a coffee break or at lunchtime (but be careful you don't fall asleep).

As the monks say, "Still the ripples on the pond."

You’ll be happier.

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