This week my own challenge is to try to focus. I have an important document to write by next week. And I have this blog to write. I was going to write this blog about the document called “Initial Thoughts” I have to write next week because I thought it might help me galvanise my ideas as it pertains to me re-entering my third year on my MSc Studies in Mindfulness with the University of Aberdeen but even this I have left to the last minute. It’s what I want to do more than anything right now so what is going on? My ability to articulate my initial thoughts is being swamped out out by other initial thoughts – thoughts or is it subtle beliefs? that are blocking me, taking me in different directions.
Suddenly, there are so many things to do. I have known about this for months.
Despite the fact that my children are all grown up and I am not juggling self-employment and children under my feet any more, I once dreamed of that day when I could focus – with so much time and space on my hands to read, work, study…
and yet it seems to be that there’s a constant flow of still and yet more things to do. Just like once I naively thought that one day I might just get to the end of the washing pile, like I was also sure the washing pile would just miraculously disappear as soon as the kids left home; but that pile even though I have been on top of it over the year, this looming deadline appears to have some correlation to the size of my washing pile, and the dishes are all still there. It’s not that this time I am distracting myself with housework ( that’s a common one for me) – this time I feel so overwhelmed I can’t seem to make any headway with anything. It all feels a bit frantic.
The peeling away of these previous assumptions and projections leaves me sitting here realizing the buck stops with me, right here, right now. These are my dishes, and that is my washing pile; they make great distractions at other times, and I’m even distracting myself from that now too. They are not diverting me – I can’t bring myself to do them either right now – What I am experiencing the log jam effect. I haven’t had this for a while so it’s interesting to look at from a mindfulness perspective. My panic button has been hit.
If you saw my office, well, you are not going to see my office or my desk. I can’t even see my desk. I have SO many books, notebooks, sticky notes that I am trying to cram into my brain; I start reading a book about one thing, then realise I know nothing about this so I read or start to read another, then another, with more coming in from online book sellers.
I am the common denominator in this picture. I’m seeing a pattern emerge. I’m hoping (in my dreams!) that maybe I’m channeling Einstein at his desk. I need to calm down. I need to meditate.
“I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”
said Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity
I need to move! Get up! Get out! Maybe Albert has it and I need to get on my bike. Even Albert had a break from his desk and his washing pile and look what happened!
My sympathetic nervous system is triggered and I’m in freeze mode. Freeze manifests as a log jam. The first log has got stuck. It’s not budging. It’s the trigger of the thought of too much to do. It’s the thought that I am stuck and that I am overwhelmed.
This morning I woke up with Shakespeare’s words from Hamlet foremost in my mind,
“To be or not to be, that is the question.”
To be (Mindful and present) or not to be (Mindful and Present).
I’m THINKING about doing instead of just doing, I think I have so much to do and that thought alone is paralysing me as I don’t know where to start.
The feeling is that I need to do something quick! But where to begin? Begin by stepping out of the conditioned habit, and maybe go and look at my bicycle with beginner’s mind.
I was just also reminded myself about Jacky’s blog on procrastination which I have just re-read which is excellent and makes me feel better about myself immediately. You can read that here. There are subtle attitudes at work behind the scenes, self-doubt being one, excitement and fear all mixed up.
Jacky’s advice helps me:
- Pause and focus on my breath, feeling my feet connected to the ground.
- Notice any negative self-talk and give myself some kindness for feeling the way I do.
- Realise that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Give myself a deadline to just begin…. Then the rest will just happen.
I thought at the start of my blog that my challenge was to focus – but I’ve realised it’s the opposite. I have given myself metaphorical eyestrain trying to focus on too many things! and like our mindfulness practice, when we are continually pulled away by this and that we cannot even hope to be present and experience any space around our unfolding experience in order to make space for that which needs to unfold.
If you have a sense of too much to do this week, or any inkling that overwhelm is coming your way…Sometimes we just need to just notice that…and let go. Let go of worrying about outcomes, let go of the tight grip of perfectionism, let go of being stuck! Getting ourselves out of a state of high anxiety can be almost as hard to get out of as a vat of treacle.
But it’s only as real as that imagined VAT of treacle.
Time for a walk. Take the Mindfulness based Living APP with you and listen while you walk. Make time for meditation every day this week, even short practices are extremely beneficial in difficult times.
Time to dust off the bike. Time to go be with the trees and the bees. And maybe, like Einstein we can just find the answer blowing in the wind.
Warm wishes until the next logjam moment!
My continuing blogs will follow me through the final year Master’s course which may take me 18 months as I read and write up my research project.
Next time I will tell you about what I wrote in my document “Initial Thoughts” which I need to submit to the University of Aberdeen next week in order to progress into year 3.
It will involve Mindfulness, Neuroscience & Art, The work of Psychoanalyst Carl Jung, Tara Rokpa Therapy, Mindfulness Based Art Therapy, and the Art of Chogyam Trungpa and Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.