An Extraordinarily Difficult Exercise
(It is simple, but you will fail. Don’t let that stop you from trying.)
When I was teaching Creativity and Personal Mastery at top business schools, I had students perform a simple exercise.
I invite you to do that same exercise now.
Sit in a comfortable armchair.
And for the next 30 minutes, just sit. OK to contemplate something outside like the weave of the carpet or the shadow cast by a piece of furniture.
But that is it.
Don’t run over your to-do list, don’t disappear into a sexual fantasy, don’t recall that terrible meeting you attended and that brilliant remark you should have made and would have made except that you thought of it an hour after the meeting ended.
Don’t go off on any Walter Mitty scenario.
Just sit and observe something. Better yet, observe the wild gyrations of your mental chatter and how it effortlessly jumps continents and decades.
The vast majority of persons cannot manage five minutes, let alone a full half hour.
How long did you last?
Our restless minds have deluded us into believing that we have to go somewhere or do something and not waste time.
How free are you really if you cannot spend 30 minutes by yourself?
Ponder this profound quote:
“It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other. In ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.” – Kafka, Franz
So here is an exercise for you:
In the midst of your frantic scurrying, pause for a while.
Do something that brings some joy into your life. Brew yourself a cup of coffee exactly the way you like it and sip it slowly enjoying the flavor.
Read a chapter of the novel you always wanted to read but it was too thick and you never had time.
Call that old friend who you have been meaning to get back in touch with but life got in the way.
Play a game of solitaire but do it with full attention and not mindlessly as most do.
Read poetry – I like Byron – and appreciate the skill of the author that leads to a plethora of complex concepts being described in a few rhyming lines.
And then go back to your frenzied bustling.