Several weeks ago, I posted some musings on transitions: why they're important and what they can reveal to us. I've been thinking a lot recently about the latter and trying to be mindful about what comes up in the moments between other things.
I am the kind of person who does best when I am busy (and not just a little busy, but really, mind-numbingly, chaotic, schedule-the-day-into-15-minute-blocks busy). I get more done, I'm happier, I take better care of myself, and I make it a priority to fill every quiet moment with something that feels meaningful (spending half an hour with my husband, catching up with a friend, putting in the people-hours that make crazy days a little more bearable). I know a number of people who thrive on this kind of schedule, but it's not sustainable in the long-term and can really do a number on your health. So why then is this chaos so appealing? Why do we love filling our time and knowing we have somewhere to be and something to do at every waking moment?
I have several great yoga teachers who are careful to point this out during a class. Between poses, where does your mind go? In moments of stillness, does the mind bring up distractions, other thoughts, things to take you out of the moment? Why is the silence so scary? Are we afraid of what we might find there, or just uncomfortable being alone with ourselves?
Maybe the reason that is the busy-ness is just distraction. It's very difficult to dwell on your own issues when your brain is packed full of other things. Without moments of quiet, we're not forced to confront the bigger stuff marinating in the deeper part of our minds. It's a little like having iPod headphones in all the time: you don't have to focus on what's really going on if Jay-Z is preoccupying your mind with other things.
It's important to be able to embrace the silence and the down-time for what it is: a chance to reflect and live fully in the moment, whatever that moment might be. An unstructured moment doesn't have to lead to seeking out filler -- which I think many can relate to. Have you ever been bored and turned to food for entertainment? Or picked up a snack or a coffee in the time between activities, even if you weren't really hungry? Have you ever spent time with people who drain your energy rather than spend a little time on your own? I have done all of these things - it takes a lot of conscious effort to think about what's going on in the moment and assess if I'm looking to kill time or fill an emotional void. I'm learning how to identify these tendencies and instead just sink into the moment and be present.
Michael and I have friends who actively practice 'introvert recharge time' - I love this! I have begun using this as tool to untangle the pile of things that make up my thought patterns on a given day. I would highly recommend to anyone who might be looking to sift through the negative self-talk, the fear, the worry, the doubt (all of the stuff that's easier to cover up with busy-ness or distraction). Spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Note what comes up, observe it, and let it go. Dont' judge. Don't try to fix anything. Just get comfortable being in those places of silence and stillness with you -- it will have an enormous impact on your interactions with others and give you a little perspective on how you spend your time: in action, transition, and stillness.