You schedule time to work.
You make time to go grocery shopping.
Even during the busiest times of the year, you manage to find time to watch television.
Everything you do has found its way into your daily routine, from getting dressed to eating dinner.
But when did you last take time to just think?
“Why do I need thinking time?” you might ask. Well, quite literally, to think! Life is lived at such a pace today that thinking—quality, intentional thinking—doesn’t just happen. Or, if you are like me, it happens at night when I’m finally still, the house is quiet, and most people are sleeping. Suddenly, my brain goes crazy and I feel bombarded with thoughts! I do everything I can think of to shut off those thoughts so I can catch a few hours of sleep. It rarely works. I wonder, though, if I could get more sleep at night if I were to schedule in some thinking time during the day. Interesting thought!
My quest to understand this thinking thing has been a little frustrating. When I try to find something written about thinking, it is usually about meditating or leadership or rather purposeful thinking. I’m more interested in the kind of thinking that frees your mind, the kind that will allow creative thoughts in. The kind that encourages curiosity. The kind that will cause you to ponder for a while. The kind that perhaps you remember having as a child when you hadn’t a care in the world. (I’m sure plenty of us remember daydreaming while watching the clouds float through the sky. Maybe we should revisit our childlike tendencies more often!)
As I thought about thinking, I began to wonder whether it would help to have a designated spot to think. There is a book that I haven’t read, but whose title I love. It is named “Find a Quiet Corner.” Somehow, I like the idea of having a particular spot—a quiet corner—to go to when I want to think. I’ve tried various spots for my thinking time, but it turns out my spot isn’t really a spot at all! It is nature. I do my best thinking when I am free from the confines of walls and doors. I sometimes sit on my front porch, other times on my patio. Sometimes I stroll down to the neighborhood lake and sit on the dock. I feel at peace at these times.
You might wonder what I think about. It wouldn’t be terribly exciting to you. It’s not terribly exciting to me usually, but it sort of clears my head of the daily clutter that piles up. You know the stuff: errands to run, housework to do, projects to complete, groceries to buy, deadlines to meet. Not to mention all of the what-am-I-going-to-do-about-this-or-that kinds of thoughts. When I am outside in nature I can just let all of that go. When I let it go, the most amazing things sometime happen. They usually don’t happen right then while I’m thinking, but they tend to manifest later. Creative ideas come more easily. With little effort, ideas for the direction I want to go in my practice (or in my community, or with my family) start to show up. Ideas start to grow and plans start to formulate about what I want in these key areas of my life.
I have come to the conclusion that if we would all take more time to think, we would find that some of the worries we have might just fade away. Our minds would be still and we would be able to see more clearly. We might come up with solutions to problems where others have failed. Most of all, we would get to know ourselves again. We might even like the people we become! We would most likely grow to appreciate more and to be less disgruntled.
If any of this is making sense to you (and I hope it is!) ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have my own “quiet corner?”
- If not, where would my quiet corner be?
- Where do I feel the most free?
- Where do I feel the weight of the world being lifted from my shoulders?
- How often do I go there?
- What would happen if I were to go there more often?
If you still have trouble getting to your quiet corner, consider scheduling in the time for thinking each day. Ask yourself:
- How much time do I want to spend thinking?
- What time of day do I do my best thinking?
- How often do I want to visit my thinking spot?
- Is it outside or inside?
I have asked several of my clients to come along this thinking journey with me. Of the ones who have chosen to do so, the reports are positive. They are finding reduced stress, more creative solutions, increased productivity, and a general quieting of their spirits. Why not give it a shot? There isn’t much to lose and there could be so much to gain. Take time for your thoughts and you’ll change your life!