Need to clear your head? There’s a lot of talk nowadays about headspace, focusing on the present, opening up your mind, and finding inner peace by releasing some of the clutter in our thoughts. Mindfulness is synonymous with a healthy state of mind and a wholesome approach to nurturing our mental health, with advocates imploring us to indulge in positive thoughts about the here and now, and to block out the rest. Naturally, meditation often comes hand in hand with mindfulness, and there’s nearly always a reference of some kind to a breathing method. I appreciate that this works absolute miracles for some people, and that’s fantastic. But I’m giving mindfulness a miss.
Serenity holds little appeal to me. Stillness makes me twitch. I’m the person itching to leave the room as soon as there’s mention of retreating to the Savasana pose at the end of a yoga class. While I’m happy to immerse myself into a tranquil environment, stillness in my thoughts I find unbearable. A moment of quiet for me offers the time and luxury for my mind to run wild – I have no inclination to ‘switch off’. I’m more likely to sleep easier after a day where my mind has been jam-packed to the rafters full, after I’ve been intrigued by topics that are harder to comprehend and less comfortable to digest, rather than leaving my thoughts to meander aimlessly, unchallenged and unperturbed by the realities of the world. And if I’m feeling anxious in any way, breathing in positive thoughts and out negative thoughts will only amplify it. So why would I want to suppress my overactive imagination when I find more comfort from feeding it?
Over the summer I read an article by Laura Freeman for The Times (definitely worth a read). It’s a wonderfully written piece that recognises that mindfulness isn’t for everyone. The following paragraph in particular stood out to me:
“The problem is not that we are exhausted by a rushing world. Many of us are under-stimulated by days spent poring over emails and Excel, and then over-stimulated by nights full of twittering screens. What we lack isn’t silence, it’s sustenance. Something for starved imaginations to feast on. At 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock in the morning, as the minute hand ticks towards sleeping-pill despair, I choose a book over counting my breath.”
It’s something I could immediately relate too. I’m a mummy to two amazing girls and run a business as a freelance writer. It would be easy to jump to the assumption that my mind must be exhausted from juggling it all. Remembering school trips, keeping track of clubs and activities, pick ups, drop offs, making sure everyone gets out the door in the morning, work deadlines, never-ending to-do lists, and always being late for the next thing. Yes, my mind is pretty frantic, but what I knew I was really craving was the ‘sustenance’ mentioned in the article.
So, I’m challenging myself to open up a new quarter of my brain and embarking on a quest to be more ‘mind-full’. I want to stuff my head full of new things, allowing my curiosity to thrive and my opinions to run wild. I’m not sure how this is going to work, but this is where I am going to document it all.