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reclaiming our quiet

reclaiming our quiet

The last couple of weeks have been a bit strange for me. It’s like I have lost my focus and have somehow paralyzed my brain. I am distracted in all directions and not much is coming out of my hands.

I’m still a fully functioning person, but at the same time there are deeper things that I am longing for, dreams, desire, purpose, that I don’t seem to be able to access in a real “lived state.” I’ve become quite confused about what I really want and what could help me feel like I live my purpose and provide a sense of fulfillment. And it feels frustrating.

Many days I wake up and think; today is going to be different; now there will be space to do xy and z, but most days there isn’t. Yesterday I decided to go out for a short walk and sit and write some things in my journal. While I sat in the grass under my favorite hornbeam tree I was thinking how it is just standing here and being, rain or shine, summer or winter, sometimes giving me shade, at other time a shower of small yellow leaves.  After writing for a bit I was simply lying down and listening to the whistle of the wind through the grass. Maybe you can imagine that sound. It was so soothing and calming. 

And I realized it was first and foremost deep calm and quiet that I was craving and missing.. When we are in a natural environment, we mostly encounter fractal patterns, patterns that repeat at all levels. Our brains are used to these patterns, they resonate with us on a deep level and they are soothing. These are moments without the kind of  input that my brain has to work hard on to process. They are restorative and healing.

Johann Hari has just published a book that is talking about what I could be experiencing – I might be suffering from an overloaded brain right now. The title of his book is “Stolen Focus – Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again”. Up till now I have only read the last chapters, because I don’t want to overload my brain with more info than necessary at the moment but was keen to see if there was something new and any practical solutions and suggestions there.

One thing really stood out to me, and that is what he shares about his chats with ex google strategist James Williams. James has been thinking about attention deeply for many years, and he has created a beautiful metaphore.

He believes there are 3 types of attention:

– The first layer is Spotlight, which allows you to focus on immediate actions like walking to the kitchen to make some lunch, or make an appointment.

– The there is your Starlight, which is about your longer term goals and projects over time; such as starting a business, moving abroad. If you become distracted you forget where you are headed but you can look up to the stars to remember where you are going.

– Then there is your Daylight. This is the type of focus you need to even know what it is you want. Without space for quietude and reflection, you can’t access this kind of focus and get clarity. You lose your mental space in a cascade of distractions and can become obsessed with petty goals.

The only remedy is sustained periods of reflection, mind-wandering and deep thought. And our current society does everything to distract us from that. In Hari and Williams’ words; we are dealing with an attention crisis and we are losing our light.  

Most of Hari’s book is talking about our current digital-and-device-age and how it has stolen our focus. And how we need to wean ourselves from our screens and the incessant info uptake.

I’m thinking that without reclaiming our focus we are not able to access our intuition and inner guidance, we are not able to live our purpose and share our gifts. We are not able to solve today’s problems together.

Reclaiming our quiet is not only something we do for ourselves, it is something we do for the world too.

I’m taking this book and my recent insights as another reminder to consciously cultivate more quiet in my life; time in nature, time journalling, time painting and sketching, time in silence and solitude. It’s winter here so it’s the natural thing to do, and because I’ve not been honouring that enough I might be feeling the avalanche of info more right now than usual.

I’m curious to see what will emerge when I create more breathing space in my mind.

1 Comment

  1. Irene Purcell

    So beautifully expressed Helena. Here’s to you and me travelling on together whilst uncovering our distinct paths, hearing the whispers in the grass to guide us.


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Hi there, I'm Helena and I write about my journey of creating a happy and meaningful life, close to nature and with the heart as compass.

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