It’s crazy to think, but I’ve listened to the gentle hum of my Sonicare toothbrush for the equivalent of 21 complete days over the last 20 years or so. Needless to say, it’s a sound I know exceedingly well. Regardless of the familiarity, I’ve conveniently ignored the the little “_” pause it makes every 30 seconds on the dot.
While I admire the cleverness of a toothbrush that prompts me to cycle through the four quadrants of my mouth, I've never taken advantage of it. I guess I’ve always assumed my natural timing would land close enough to the two minute mark.
That changed about a month ago when I randomly became curious about how my brush time stacked up against the dentist-recommended two minutes. Within a couple days of observation, I discovered I was not nearly as perfect as I’d imagined.
Sure, my timing wasn’t perfect, but it was my struggle to keep track of the pauses that most surprised me. With even the slightest loss of concentration, I’d miss one (or two, or three) pauses and be none the wiser. Turns out, I find the thoughts floating around in my mind far more interesting and important than the monotonous hum of an electric toothbrush.
Its been incredibly humbling to work toward keeping my mind focused on this basic task for a measly two minutes at a time considering how much I’ve poured into training mental discipline and meditation over the last few years. Even still, I’m buoyed by the knowledge that this is a skill, and it can be developed like any other. With a bit of determined practice, I’m confident of getting to the point where I can effortlessly slip into the peaceful flow of complete focus each time I brush.
What a magnificent gift to give my future self — four minutes a day of thoughtless attention. Ah, the power of zen.