Take the time out?
Humph – you’ve got to be kidding!
I’m way too busy to sit around and study my navel.
Working from home is in so many ways a blessing –
I love the flexibility and fluidity to my day; but there’s rarely a moment where I feel I have time on my hands to indulge in ‘me’ time.
However, I recently experienced a bout of cabin fever!
It crept up on me quite unexpectedly and screamed in my ear –
You need to get out of here –
And no – Not go and do your usual walk, or ride your bike, or kayak across the Bay –
No, you need some time out to be totally in the moment.
1 . But Where to Start?
With no idea where this was leading I employed ‘my go to’ in these situations which is to follow the inkling gnawing at my stomach.
I grabbed a small stool, a blank journal and a pen and headed down to the muddy manky mangroves with no intention, no objective, no expectation, no ambition, no goal of going there to achieve anything –
I simply gave myself 20 minutes to go and be.
In business circles there’s an emphasis that there should always be a plan – If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
But if you’re innovative and creating new concepts from fresh ideas do you always know the end result before you get there?!
I feel giving serendipity an opportunity to come and play will take you to places you’d never have been able to imagine, so I like Lewis Carrol’s take on it –
“If you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there”
2. One Thing Leads to Another
In other words if you allow yourself the simple act of starting who knows where you’ll end up and the chances are it’ll be a place you most likely could never have envisioned.
Essentially – One thing always leads to another!
And before you know what has happened you have something like the images on this page unravelling before you.
3. 20 mins + 20 mins + 20 mins = an hour
I, like most of you reading this I suspect, don’t have the luxury of taking off for hours at a time –
But I do stop to make a cup of tea a couple of times a day –
On that initial foray fleeing from the cabin-fever I also grabbed my afternoon cup of tea to take with me which I sipped as I studied the sculptural forms of the mangroves.
Then, for 20 minutes I perched on my stool and started the image at the top of this post – the one of the gnarled mangrove trunk.
Now, if I’d said I was going to take the time out to do some drawing – being a tad puritanical – I doubt I’d have given myself permission!
But I headed off down there first and foremost to have my afternoon tea and while I was there I spent 20 minutes observing – being in the moment.
20 minutes is nothing when it comes to drawing – which is why I suspect so many people think they can’t draw as they never apply the time required to produce anything – but because I was drawing something I could return to at a later time, after 20 minutes I left off where I’d got to and returned to my work day refreshed.
A couple of times a week thereafter I’d make a cup of tea and head off back to my gnarled tree trunk for just 20 minutes each time as I sipped my tea –
Surprisingly – 20 mins and 20 minutes and 20 minutes adds up, and before I knew it I had a body of work evolving before me – All in the space of a tea break!
It’s so obvious, but I have to ask – Have you ever tried stepping out of your usual day and applying a 20 minute tea break to a project you’re perhaps putting off – or heaven forbid actually give yourself 20 minutes to spend being mindful of a moment?
4. The Process is More Important than the Product
The result or quality of the drawing you produce in this scenario is totally immaterial –
It is not for the product that you are intricately observing your subject –
It is the focus on the moment – being 100% present in the now –
How often can you honestly say you are fully aware of the ‘now’ rather than busily thinking about what you are about to do or contemplating something that happened in the past?
5. Mindfulness in the Mangroves
As a country bumpkin I’m most at ease when in nature –
So for me heading into an area of nature makes me feel the most relaxed.
I had never realised until a few years ago that there was a term for this – biophilia.
But for those of you who don’t have a patch of mangroves at the bottom of your garden most cities have Parks not too far apart where you can absorb yourself in blades of grass and the tactile textures of tree trunks.
So the next time you’re having a tea or coffee break – staring out at the view – consider the fact that after 20 mins both the tea and the view will be gone unless perhaps you too devote 20 mins to mindfully transcribing what you see before you.
And before you know it – You too will have a journal of sketches you never thought you had time to do!
“willingness or ability to show up fully in our lives and live them as if they really mattered, in the only moment we ever get, which is this one”
Mark Williams – Author of ‘Mindfulness – Finding Peace in a Frantic World’
Are you ever consciously fully present in the moment or are you always too busy thinking and projecting yourself off into the next thing?
Or, if you have tried mindfulness – do you feel it has improved your well being?
Do share your experiences and comment below 🙂