Isn’t it weird that we fight, argue and complain how chaotic an environment can get for productivity and thinking, only to miss it’s when it’s totally silent?
It was a long workday yesterday and I decided to stop by Starbucks to wind down my day and reflect on my wins and learnings from the past week. I left my laptop and watch in the car, which I usually don’t do, I just didn’t feel like carrying them any longer. After getting inside the cafe, I realized that my phone got turned off too.
I remembered thinking, “what the heck, I’m here for just about an hour. And I’ve got my notepad and pen anyway, which is all I need.” And I went ahead and placed an order. Waited. And then this pang of anxiety struck like a ton of bricks!
No phone. No laptop. No watch. Of course, I wasn’t connected to the internet! How would I survive the next hour? What if something happened? How would anyone get in touch with me? I literally broke into a sweat!
It was a weird feeling.
Tensed, I sat down with my favorite venti Iced Tea. I was tempted to ask the time from that gentleman sitting next to my table. But I didn’t. I realized what was happening. I was out of comfort zone. But I also acknowledged how strange distracted we’ve become as humans. We now go against our primal instincts — that appreciates solitude and uses simple tools to communicate — and crave distraction! The lack of which can literally give us an anxiety attack.
In fact, I’ve experienced this while meditating as well. I’ve been practicing consistently for the last six months. I started with Transcendental Meditation (TM), but couldn’t survive a week — not because it was hard, it’s not, in fact it’s the easiest form of meditation to learn — since I get distracted very easily, which made the evening routine almost impossible! The morning and evening routines are core to the practice of TM. If you’re skipping one, it’s not TM anyway — at least that’s what I believe it. (Typical Type A, what can you expect?)
I decided to do two things:
a) Use a meditation app/service
b) Skip the evening routine altogether (at least for now)
I had been using Brain.FM (am a lifetime subscriber, an awesome service) to stay focused while I’m working. I started to use it for meditate as well. First thing in the morning (or it never gets done) every day.
Yesterday, my bluetooth headphone was out of juice so I thought of doing a TM-style session instead. It was difficult! I could only survive 12 minutes! I plugged in my studio monitors to my phone and played mediation music from Brain.FM. I realized that I need to have my headphones, else I cannot meditate! How strange is that?
The whole idea of meditation is to relax and free your mind, the focus is on emptying my mind. And here I am craving for some ambient music to put my mind to rest! I’m not alone. Millions of Headspace and Calm app subscribers are dependent on headphones.
What are we turning into? Why do we crave distraction so much?
Back in the coffee shop, I realized how busy we are. Everyone’s doing something. Talking, speaking, writing, reading, working, taking selfies/photos, talking on phone, texting… and here I was doing nothing but sipping my Iced Tea! I almost felt shameless for the first 20 minutes… but then I felt normal again. That sense of calm finally came onto me and I felt connected with the world again.
I think I will do this again. Perhaps convert it into a weekly ritual of some kind. A ritual of “doing nothing” to help me connect to my inner self and feel and express my gratitude for what I’m blessed with.
A few moments of doing nothing to appreciating silence in this world that just can’t help but do something all the time.