Happening Upon

Should we look? Should we search, seek high and low? Should we wait? How do we come upon ideas and inspiration?

There I was, on a crowded rush hour tube thinking about what to write for this post, but nothing would come. The busyness of commuter trains? The fact that the man next to me has a suit made of the identical fabric as my wedding suit (true story)? Nope. Wrack my brains trying to think of something and then it dawned on me, I should write about not being sure what to write.

I’ve recently started meditating. When I say started, I have done it a couple of times and each day have good intentions, but I have started. The fundamental principle of meditation is not to clear the mind (that’s impossible) but rather to calm the mind to the point of being able to let thoughts go, rather than following them down a rabbit hole (like when you’re lying in bed at night and running through the altercation you had over some playdough in kindergarten, but damnit I shall not rest until this is resolved!). Much to most people’s (myself included) chagrin, we cannot work for ideas. It’s not like mining gold, where it is guaranteed that the more rock you sift through, the more chance you have of finding some. That doesn’t mean you definitely will but the mathematical likelihood goes from zero (or practically zero unless you’re Marvin Martinez) to something above zero (with one being you find some). Sure, we have meetings and brainstorm ideas but be honest with yourself, when was the last time you had a truly great, original or near-original idea? I’m willing to bet a pint that it wasn’t while you were trying. It was more likely in the shower or driving or trying to solve a Rubik’s cube. It’s bloody frustrating. It would be great if we could just work at the coalface of ideas and ta da! there they would be, but alas that isn’t the case.

Meditation is a way to deliberately put blocks of time into our day when we free our minds to come up with ideas, or not, or well whatever frankly. We all meditate, we just might not realise it. In the shower, the feeling of water on our skin is essentially overloading our senses and letting our brains switch off. The scary one? Driving. Ever driven along a road for an extended period of time and remember precisely nothing from the last half an hour? Your brain is concentrating on the task at hand and your mind wanders.

Another good example of this weird do-less-get-more thing is (I’ve been told) a golfer’s swing (people even blog about it…). The harder you work at your swing, the worse it gets, or at least the less thinking you do, the more likely it is to improve.

So, the next time you’re thinking of thinking, maybe try not to.

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