Solitude: Quieting the Overactive Mind
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | November 2016
We are not constrained to live chained to unwholesome and meddling thoughts, with work, our thoughts can constructively serve our interests.
The human ability to plan has blossomed into the technological wonders of our modern world. This fantastic ability extends possibilities, providing not only grand discoveries but an escape from simple reactionary behaviors. The ability to plan has shaped the world and can shape our lives. With planning, we become active players in creating futures. But a thinking mind isn’t all wonder and no ache. Consciousness contributes to complexity but disrupts harmony of the moment with worries of tomorrow.
Thinking has flaws. We entertain justifications, invent blame and over-think ourselves into depression. We ponder victimhood; and ignore responsibilities with complex theories to excuse personal culpability. Thinking is a burden and a blessing. We are not constrained to live chained to unwholesome and meddling thoughts, with work, our thoughts can constructively serve our interests.
Thinking is an activity of the brain, mulling over the past and considering possibilities for the future. Thinking gives additional meaning to experience that we can access to productively guide choice, but thinking can disrupt calmness. We should be sleeping in a quiet room but noise in our head keeps us awake. We need space from chaotic thoughts that continuously haunt and intrude. We need the calmness of solitude.
Thoughts aren’t simply turned off on command when we need a break. Escaping disrupting thoughts requires skill and practice. We invite solitude through practices like meditation, prayer, Tai-Chi and Yoga. Many people enjoy solitude through controlled reflection, religious practices, music or nature. The possibilities are many. Most rejuvenating practices must be invited through intentional scheduling. Long absences of solitude, indulging in the overactive mind, make excursions into peace disquieting (see article Quieting the mind). Feelings previously ignored with distractions of business often surface during quietness. When Habitual thoughts disappear, raw feelings are exposed.
Moments of solitude and the rich rewards of quietness are often feared. Mindless clicking of facebook, blankly watching another repeat of an evening sitcom or a barrage of superficial text messages effectively distracts with noise, escaping the frightening feelings we wish to avoid.
Our demons must be faced to grow. Confining our life to a narrow existence protected with limiting adaptations prevents the richness of the wondrous world of the feeling existence of a conscious mind. We can challenge the fears and be freed. Like many things in life, if we want the benefits of solitude, we must structure quietness into our busy schedules. In the dark corners of our minds, away from thinking, away from distraction, we find the secrets of life, the secrets that bring the richness we seek.