I have obsessed done some more thinking on the subject of my mind. I feel that the intensity of my mind causes my periodic clean ups. I dive deeply into topics but sometimes I am swept away with the current or become entangled in weeds, which requires instant backpedalling and mad clean up skills. Often diving deeply is pure bliss and relaxes me. But if I try to do it in too many areas, I become overwhelmed, either timewise or energywise. I need to curate my brain. Corral it into certain areas only. So much and no more brain! Of course the internet, with its ultimate diveability, is my heaven and my nemesis. How easy to get lost in rabbit holes of information which whirl and swirl in my brain all night, causing sleepless overload as I try to process it all. I adore disappearing into knowledge and ideas but it isn't really practical with a family to look after. I am pretty grumpy and/or emotional when I lose sleep. Having to keep a household running and make sure everyone is eating well, closes the door on romantic lifestyles sacrificing all for the pursuit of knowledge or art! Of course sometimes the brain wins and I can't sleep, hence writing this at the crack of dawn after four hours sleep!
So after diving too deep and almost becoming submerged, I tell myself no more, and do extreme clean up measures to try and restore balance, only to find I've swung too far the other way and have nothing to chew on, causing boredom or worse, allowing my brain to invent things to worry about...not a good place to be. So I need just enough busyness for my brain to keep ticking over, but not too much to cause overload and derailing. Difficult balance for an intense prone mind. I am always assessing, can I reduce more online interactions? Just like with my wardrobe. I have a cull and feel all light and free, then start getting bored and start shopping again, only to have to start the cycle of purging once more. Is this a natural and healthy cycle or one I need to stop? Should I just admit my intensity and be done with it, or learn to curb it?
I also think my sensitivity to what others think has coloured what I do and why. For example, I often feel guilty if people comment on my blog, when I don't reciprocate on theirs. It just feels rude. So I run around like a headless chook, collecting bloggers and building up my readers, then find I can't sustain it and have to drop them all like a stone. I would love to be a person who doesn't feel other's feelings and just could stand alone. How relieving that would be!
A couple of practical ideas I'm trying:
Using tabs to curtail my deep diving. As I open my emails in the morning, or read blog articles or facebook posts that look interesting, I export all the links into my browser in a limited number of tabs. This gives me a visual representation of how much my mind is taking in. I then walk through them during the day, closing them as I read them. By using this technique I'm hoping to allow myself depth but not too much breadth; to keep a reasonable limit on my reading and researching and interacting.
This means my reading is meaningful and not just rubbish online eye candy...not that eye candy doesn't have its place, and sometimes I feel I should utilise it more!
Before I open an app on ipad, I hesitate and ask if my brain wants the stimulation right now. Am I seeking new ideas and experiences right now, or am I just going through the motions or feeling guilty or trying to distract myself.
Some thoughts I have aired in other spaces: This was in response to a post about an idea of enlightenment being like climbing a mountain.
Yes, I would concur, the sense of awareness of the presence of the mountain has encouraged me in my climb. Although sometimes I feel it might be a mirage and I'm just hanging in midair! This article and Dabrowski's theory are helping me put a positive spin on my years of yearning and searching. Maybe I haven't been spinning in place, maybe just maybe I have started to climb. When surrounded by others who try to be supportive but look in puzzlement at your detailed questions, or who gently patronise your frenzied angst, it is hard to feel you are on the road to enlightenment. I do think my inner drive has helped me persevere. And my ability to see things from multiple angles helps me try again. I must admit most of my work has involved counselling to find out why I am broken, which I now disagree with. I wonder if it led in an upward direction, or if I just stood at the base of the mountain digging a hole in my navel!
I have recently had some lovely conversations with readers who are on a similar path. This is so encouraging to me, as that is the exact reason I air my dirty laundry in public. Maybe I have a few insights that can save someone else time on the journey. I hope so.
I have been going through a process not only of trying to understand my brain (as in the previous post), but also of trying to once again simplify my life. With the study of my maybe gifted and certainly intense mind, I am realising a lot of my stress comes from the way I think. I have what Paula Prober terms a "Rainforest Mind" which is teeming with ideas, full of sensory stimulation and working on many different directions at once. I also have heard it termed "fractal thinking" or "meta thinking". It doesn't seem to think linearly, but more brainstormingly. Each thought sets up clusters of thoughts and my brain either heads off for the ride of its life; or becomes completely mired within the distractions it sets up, becomes overloaded and can't have a decent conversation.
My first inkling that all was not well was the way I felt around online time. I enjoy it so much and yet it seems to drain the life right out of me. It feels like standing in the middle of a busy party and trying to have conversations with all the partygoers simultaneously. Kind of like living in my brain sometimes! You think I would be used to it, but obviously not! So then I backed right off and withdrew from Facebook and reduced my blogging interactions to almost nil. However this felt too far removed and I missed my friends and all the stimulation of ideas. So I have now come up with a new strategy which I am finding useful.
For Facebook I have unfriended people who I don't know in person, and those who post negative ideas constantly. But I still had a few people who I wanted to keep in contact with like family, but who posted things I found hard to read. I then found my lifesaver...unfollowing. This allows me to stay friends but I don't have to see their posts in my feed. If I tap on the notification button it will tell me a summary of their posts and I can pick and choose which I will read. This has given me a really useful filtration tool and has been great for my mental health. The side benefit of emptying my feed is that I now receive posts from the groups I am following which were previously crowded out by someone's breakfast photo or some such. These group posts are much more on topic for me as that is why I followed them in the first place, and I can have much more relevant interesting conversations based on them.
I have also removed myself from Instagram as I found it tended to be doubling what I was doing on FB or my blog, but it just opened me up to way more interactions. Too many for my brain, fun though they were. I have long ago also pulled away from Google+ as well, as that tended to duplicate FB. I explored posting my BeautyScopes in various photography groups, and while successful, it required much interaction with others' photos to keep the group alive, and I just couldn't sustain it.
So I have reduced my daily interactions to Email lists, Blogging, Facebook and YouTube with occasional forays into Pinterest and Podcasts. I have set up my apps in a folder on my ipad in order, and every day I walk through them to make sure I have caught up and covered everything. If I have a gap, if I'm away for instance, I tend to just start again from there, rather than trying to catch up with everything that has gone on in my absence!
I have reduced my lists to a manageable number, and when I find a new one I want to follow, I remove one I am not reading as much, with gratitude. Like sorting out my wardrobe! This way I can keep things under control, and I can interact more deeply with those still on my list. Deep communication is my natural way, and I have been finding all the scattered surface reading did not suit me. However I must admit this is still only partially successful as I still peep back at the people I removed. Mostly I have removed fashion bloggers as I have stopped being so interested in clothing for the moment. But the problem is I find those people are the nicest, kindest, chattiest people! If I want to make space for my other research, I need to move away for a time. Still working on this!
Another issue I've been having is that I forget to read the ibooks I have downloaded because there is no physical presence to prompt me. Do you find that? I have put my kindle app in my daily folder to help me remember to finish these ibooks.
And in this same daily folder I have myItalianpod101 app which gives me a word of the day. I do enjoy starting my day with a little Italian!
Finally I have a Chill app that gives me a saying and beautiful picture to brighten my day and give me a calm image to think about and dwell on.
Phew, listing all this makes me realise that even in my relaxed organised state I am full on!
After reading all these, I then head off to do some yoga with "Yoga With Adriene", free on YouTube. This sets my body up for the day and stretches out all the little kinks. My ultra taut nervous system can wreak havoc on my poor muscles. My yoga time is helping to smooth the way...ahhh! The focus on the core during yoga has helped me come back to myself, feel my grounding, feel my body. So I am gently working towards more simplicity, stillness and focus. I am thinking more of nature, spending more time at home, working more with my hands, and working only on a couple of projects at a time (or at least in a day)!
Working towards simple pleasures of having a tidy, clean, beautiful functional space. Filled with well crafted good quality products and finishes. I notice buying things secondhand as I do, it's easy to pick up junk. We need to filter our buying, not just buy a lot of stuff because it's cheap. We need to make sure we adore it and it is quality, and we need it! I am working on negotiating this with the magpie inside!
So that is my brain dump on my latest move towards simplicity. Getting this all sorted through my brain and then implementing it and finally writing about it, has been an enormous undertaking! I feel cleaner and lighter and simpler. Yay!
Do you have strategies you use to organise your brain and your online life?