Last week I had a meltdown/breakdown/whatever you want to call it. We’ve all had them. They vary in intensity from a 30-second tantrum to a day-long struggle to stay afloat. Almost always a culmination of too much: too much stimulation, information, delays, interruptions… too much input. Finally, I decided to turn it all off. I deliberately disconnected from the world and focused on things to fill my soul. I created a floral arrangement to use as a backdrop for a product photoshoot for the following morning, listened to some meditative music, wrote in my journal, lit candles, wrote out a verse on my giant chalkboard in my office space, then snuggled on my office couch with my dog to read a book on creativity.
After a few moments, I put the book down and stared at the wall, listening to calming tunes and enjoying the scent of the candles I bought myself earlier in the day. Everything I did that afternoon was to connect with my thoughts. Most of what angers, upsets, or causes our little meltdowns are the things happening in the world that we can’t do much about, and we are constantly filling our minds with it. Every second of every day our phones, computers, and TVs are piling stress up stress until something little comes along, and then like a pin that pops a balloon, we explode.
In our excitement to be connected to the world and always in the know, we become disconnected with ourselves and with God.
I believe it’s good to be bored or lonely at times. It’s in these moments that we become silent and feel emotions and think thoughts. It’s where we can hash through frustrations or questions, and ponder. I mean, how many of us actually take time to think? We are letting random people in the world do our thinking – and it’s stressing us out.
WE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO THINK
“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds and makes of all political and social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning, we cannot begin to see. Unless we see, we cannot think.”Thomas Merton
Especially these days, it’s easy to think we must constantly stay connected with the news. I know I do. Yet as I stared at the white wall in front of me, it was heaven to sit in silence and simply acknowledge the stress I had been carrying. In the quiet, I stared at an old, vintage, wooden window frame hanging on the wall. I never even notice it anymore. The original dried flowers have faded or fallen off and now it sits barren, desperately needing something new. It’s been awkwardly hanging on my wall for two years looking like a piece of trash instead of an interesting focal point. How much goes unnoticed by me because my thoughts and emotions are consumed by the news of the day? I had to laugh. I look around and notice the dead flowers in the vase on the wood stove and in my view can see at least a half-dozen unfinished projects that will most likely remain there for the next decade or until someone throws them away.
At first, I thought this day was going to be a waste because of my little meltdown. However, when I disconnected from the electronics and gave myself time to decompress, I ended up accomplishing so much and didn’t even realize it. Perhaps I could finish these projects and be happier by simply be disconnected from the onslaught of constant input. Not to mention, the peace found in sitting and thinking.
Thinking is critical for our creativity. It is also critical for our mental health.
SILENCE CAN BE SCARY
Silence can be scary to most people. We’ve become accustomed to non-stop stimulation. There must constantly be music, tv, phone, videos, white noise, something at all times to distract us from our own thoughts. I’ve observed for some time that few people can tolerate the sound of silence without squirming and getting up to find something to look at or turn on. I think it’s because we’re afraid of our thoughts.
We’ve lost touch with silence. Within the silence, we hear the voice of God and we hear the cries of our heart. It’s in the thinking and pondering that we work through some of what is eating at us on the inside. By disconnecting with the world we reconnect with ourselves. And frankly, we all need to reconnect with our thoughts. We need to not be afraid of silence or of thinking about what hurts. Also, silence allows us to ponder what inspires and reflect on the things worth remembering.
My little meltdown the other week shook me up in a variety of ways. But, at the end of the day, I can say I am so thankful for it. It was vital I see my need to be disconnected from the world more often – at least for part of my day or week. And it was a fresh reminder that it is a physical and mental need to reconnect with my thoughts by making silence a priority.