When was the last time in your waking hours that you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? This statement came from a TED talk by Andy Puddicombe (you may check out his talk at http://youtu.be/qzR62JJCMBQ). He advocates the practice of mindfulness to help us get out of that mess of a mind that we have in this fast paced, media saturated and consumer driven world we live in. We are so inundated by stuff that our minds get overstimulated, overstretched and overwhelmed. We blame it on stress at work, school, home and relationships with family, colleagues and friends. We are often exhausted, complaining and pessimistic in our conversations and outlook on life in general.
In my last blog on `Growing Older’, I shared about having a more organised life and good habits of mindful activities to help avoid situations of `forgetfulness’. If your mind is filled with `mess’, how would you be able to find something specific? I recalled a conversation with my sister when we both were trying to recall the name of an actor that we know but the name just couldn’t come up. She would say, “It’s at the back of my head somewhere,” and I would say, “It’s at the tip of my tongue,” and she would conclude, “It will come around somehow soon.” Yes, this may not be a good example about a cluttered mind as old information do take some time to process as it was stored for a long time. It’s what we said to each other at that situation, was my focus. The information is in our head somewhere, it’s there and we know it but we have a problem accessing it.
My niece is in her mid 20s and has a modern style of dressing that is elegant and classy. One day, there was a suspected break in at the house she was living in with her parents. Fortunately, no one was home when the intrusion alarm went off. Her father had to follow the police officer to enter the rooms in the house to make sure there were no perpetrators. As they entered each room, it was all clear and safe one by one. However, when they reached my niece’s room and opened the door, the officer froze and held the father back from entering the room. When he could not find anyone in the room, he asked the father, “Is this room like this all the time?” the father was embarrassed but said, “Yes,” and the officer heaved a sigh of relief. Well, you would have guessed by now that the reason why the officer was alarmed was that the room looked like a typhoon had passed through it. I can hear her say, “My room may be a mess but I know where everything is.”
Perhaps my niece may be right to say she knows where everything is exactly in that organised-chaos-room but we know how difficult it is to find things in a messy drawer, room, store, closet, etc. The same goes for our minds that are cluttered with so many things and we hope it will function efficiently when we call it to. We bombard it with all sorts of media from an array of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets persistently checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, or watching drama series, talk shows, sitcoms, reality shows, etc.
We go through numerous emails at work and chat with several persons and groups on the office PC as well as use our smartphone to chat, and this all done simultaneously. On top of that, we meet our friends, family or colleagues after work for meals and will still be checking our smartphones while having meals with them who would also be checking their smartphones. If a conversation happens, it would be a miracle if it was not about what they were checking their smartphones on. When going to bed, we bring our devices with us and will do a last check before we sleep but more often than not, the device will tarry with us till wee hours of the morning before we finally fall asleep.
That is why the 10 whole minutes of doing absolutely nothing, not even thinking about anything, is so hard for anyone of us to do. For us to get organised, we need to declutter our minds from all these things and when we take the time to be still and rest our minds, let it have some peace, that we can begin to declutter.
In the beginning, it will be difficult and you may find that you have some sort of addiction to your work, devices, etc but keep working at decluttering allowing some peace and rest to come into your life in your mind before you can even begin organising. For me, I learn to pray more and ask God to help me declutter my thoughts and to be still to know why I am here and for what purpose. This is where I find peace.