Running From The Quiet

Do you ever just sit? Just sit, nothing else. No screens, no book, no conversation, just sitting. Letting your mind wander, noticing what you can see, and hear around you.

I don’t do it very often. Actually, I’m an expert at avoiding and distracting. Avoidance is rarely helpful, but distractions aren’t that bad, right? It’s good to distract yourself, isn’t it?  Unless you’re distracting yourself in order to avoid, even if that’s unconsciously.

I keep my mind so busy that it doesn’t have time to wander, ramble, and explore. When it comes to bedtime and there are, finally, no distractions I end up feeling utterly overwhelmed by all the thoughts and feelings that come up. Not necessarily trauma related either. Thoughts about the day, about things from ten years ago, about something I need to do tomorrow, about plans next week.

Keeping my mind busy and distracted all day usually means it hasn’t had time to sit and ponder things. I find I need time to just sit and think. I’m quite organised, so none of that needs doing, but my mind seems to need time to go over the day, and the past, and the future.

Journal writing is usually how I think, but I’ve been finding that too structured. I find myself needing a few hours throughout the day to just let my mind wander. This means no phone, no laptop, no TV. No constant distractions.

Today I spent my time on the train with my phone in my bag. I didn’t look at it except to check the time when I got off the train. I sat. I sat and noticed the other people on the train. I noticed the buildings we passed, the stations we went through. I noticed my mind wander to all sorts of things. It was oddly peaceful.

I needed that time away from constantly distracting myself to just be. I sat in silence on the train and just watched where my mind wandered.

Now, at the end of the day, I’m feeling more content and relaxed than usual. I feel like I have space in my head to deal with day-to-day tasks. It’s not bedtime yet, but I think my mediation before bed tonight will be easier as my mind has had time to wander.

Conversation inside is much easier as well. With my mind less cluttered I can hear and talk to nearly everyone inside.

I think taking a break from constantly distracting needs to be a change we make longterm. With just one day having noticeable benefits, I wonder what impact it will have on our mental health longterm.

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Just Being.

I’m wondering how often most people actually take time out to just sit and be. To not be using your phone, your computer, listening to music, tidying, planning, anything. Just sitting. Watching the world around you.

I’ve been making an effort to get more Vitamin D into me. The human body can make Vitamin D from cholesterol with adequate exposure to the sun (thank you Wikipedia). I take a supplement because my levels have been low but it’s become a bit of a goal to take some time to sit in the sun on a regular basis. It will stop me appearing so pale as well! Not that I advocate tanning because of skin cancer risks, but to take the edge off my pale British skin is a nice thing. All in moderation.

Anyhow, I try to spend ten minutes sitting outside on our verandah with my arms and face exposed. It gets the afternoon sun and it’s lovely to bask in the warmth of it. The warmth of the sun feels relaxing, calming, soothing. Add the quietness of my neighbourhood and it’s bliss. I can hear birds, sometimes the buzzing of different insects and the occasional car, maybe a lawnmower. I can see bees and butterflies moving between flowers, ants and spiders crawling across the path.

I’ve also spent sometime sitting on the concrete of our driveway, also in the sun, watching, petting and laughing at the neighbour’s cat. I don’t know the cat’s name but have met the lady who owns him/her. Playing with a cat outside makes me notice what is happening outside – the insects and birds the cat notices, the sounds. It draws me attention from all that is in the head to something external from me. It’s also much more low key that interacting with another person and doesn’t require anywhere near as much effort.

The neighbour’s cat.

The whole experience got me thinking though – how often do most people do this? How often do people notice what’s around them? So often we’re (people in general, not just my system) busy with life. Going somewhere, having to do something, meet someone, plan something. Busy, busy, busy.

It’s actually really lovely to take just ten minutes from your day and notice what’s happening around you. No technology, no planing in your head. Just sitting and noticing what’s around you. Those nagging thoughts about things you have to do – push them away for now. They can wait just ten minutes.

I suppose this is really about mindfulness. Sitting. Being. Observing. Letting thoughts come and go but not holding onto anything. Being in the moment. I actually find it quite refreshing and relaxing.