Our guest blogger, Mr Brian Saunders, challenges us to… STOP!
I’ve just come away from reading two very good blog posts about ‘finding thinking time’. I’m challenged and interested and ready to put some of these ideas into practice. I’m sure many of you reading this feel the same. But I wonder if it is possible to go beyond ‘finding thinking time’ into something even more challenging. Question – when was the last time that you stopped? Yes, you actually stopped long enough not to think – but to BE?Not stopping in front of the TV for two hours until you fall asleep. Not pausing from work to spend thirty minutes on Facebook. Not even stopping activity only in order to think through a problem… No! Taking time just to BE. Sitting in the garden, or in your favourite armchair, on a hilltop or even at a café and BEING. In our driven existences, ‘BEING’ is OK, really it is!
I don’t know about you, but my challenge is that since leaving school I’ve had this definition of ‘work’. You must be seen to be doing something. This means variously sitting at the computer ‘working’, or physically completing a project (with evidence to prove it) or doing something obvious that I’ll get paid for. Heck – I’ve even done the old trick of carrying around a notebook or clipboard, to make it look like I’m working! (Seriously…it’s true!)
Over the last year I’ve been gradually becoming more aware of the value of just stopping and being. Taking time to rest – maybe to have thoughts, yes, but not to feel that I must WORK on them, RECORD them, APPLY them, ACT on them – No, just to allow the thoughts time to come and to go. To be outside of the pressure to ‘produce a great idea, a product or an answer to a problem? This is taking the mind down a few gears and then slipping quietly into neutral; idling for a while and just ‘BEING’.
OK – practical ideas and suggestions? Personal experience – I found that to start with it was really hard. I couldn’t extract myself from ‘doing’ for long without feeling anxious. But gradually, with practice and patience I’ve found that I can now ‘idle’ for ten minutes, on a good day. And it is magical! It’s the one time in the day when nothing else matters.
Practically, set a timer on your phone and start with one minute – and then challenge yourself by adding one or two seconds each day. With the timer, you know that if you really calm down, breathe well, relax and ‘drift’ the timer will bring you gently back into the land of the living again, and it will mean you relax more. Move away from your normal working space. Rest, take a few slow and long breaths and then just turn-off for a while, listening to your breath and sensing how your body is and slowing the thinking. I dare you! Just STOP! Have a go and see what a difference it makes to you.