I unplug. I move my body. I let loose. The road, the river, the setting sun, its reflection against the buildings. Running. One of my favorite rituals.
The motor which is my mind, slows down. It turns off. It’s usually obsessing about future scenarios or second-guessing decisions I made int the past. The mp3 of my mind usually sounds like this: “What’s next? What will I do to earn money in the future? Am I where I want to be in my life? Did I make the right decisions before?” Occasionally, something random pops in like, “Why the hell did I do that to my friend freshmen year?”
My mind races, and I have trouble coming up with actual solutions.
I started running and what I discovered was a tool. A tool to quiet my mind. It’s a meditation. I’m at peace. I focus on my breath, my heart rate, and the blood pumping in my body. I listen and feel the music. Sweat drops from my forehead. My lungs open up. I’m in the zone.
Then I slow down. I almost stop. An idea pops into my head. I have to write it down on my phone. I continue running. A few minutes later, another idea. I catch it.
I’m not thinking. I’m completely present. My mind is clear.
I love it. I occasionally and jokingly hate it. Sometimes I just want to run and keep my good pace. I laugh about it. But truth is, I love accessing this source of inspiration and creativity.
Are you trying to come up with an idea or solve a problem? This might help: Stop thinking so strongly. Stop desperately searching for the answer.
It will come to you. If you try or reach too hard, you’ll just keep trying and reaching. Practice being still and look within. All the answers are right there. Quiet the mind, and let the answers come to you.
Performance expert Josh Waitzkin who wrote the very good book, The Art of Learning, said, “Our creative process should not be dominated by external noise, but be driven by internal music.”
This is what I feel when I run. Internal music.
External noises are the outside distractions. It’s the emails, the text messages, and the social media notifications. It can be people we see on TV. It’s the bad advice we receive from friends or family who are not qualified to give advice. These outside distractions speed up our already fast thinking minds. External noise leads to over thinking and over analyzing.
Internal music is tapping into a source that is much greater and much powerful than ourselves. At the same time it is essentially who we are. This is where the magic happens.
Looking for an answer? You want to create something? Look within.
What does looking within actually mean?
To me, it means trying to be present. Being present means trying to slow down your thoughts. This can be done by noticing the life around you right now. Forgetting about that problem you are trying to solve. It’s going for a walk without your phone with only one purpose in mind. To go for a walk. The same can be said for a run or a work out.
It can also be sitting down on a park bench, and taking 10 deep breaths. Feel the breath go in and out of your body. Try not to think. If thoughts sidetrack you, be aware of them. Let them come and let them go. Keep breathing and bring your focus back to your breath.
Next time the “external noise” comes, observe it and smile at it. Then let your “internal music” start to play. Wait for your answer to come.
This is what works for me. Maybe it will work for you. Maybe not.