Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
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Are you someone who can just be? Can you sit in silence, at peace with yourself and with your thoughts?
In this day and age, most of us find ourselves busier than ever. Work demands more of us than ever before, mobile phones mean we can always be contacted – and if we have kids they are probably involved in 101 different activities that require us to provide a taxi service. TV and the internet tend to be major sources of entertainment these days, so that even at times when we are on our own, there is always the opportunity to fill our life with sounds and pictures that occupy our thoughts. More than ever in the history of mankind, we are bombarded with external stresses and external stimuli.
Do you sometimes get the feeling that you’d like the world to stop for a bit? Being able to get away from the hustle and bustle can be important. Some people meditate, or walk, others might listen to music or take a long hot bath. There’s something about being in the open air that is relaxing – and for many people something about being near water that is very helpful. Hence, I suppose, our love of sun and of seaside holidays.
Over Easter, I visited the Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern and found that just sitting with the images he’d created took me to a very, peaceful, happy, secure place and left me enormously refreshed afterwards.
Some people, however, find it really hard to escape the real world in any way. The idea of spending an evening in is really difficult for them – they need to be busy, to be out, to be in the company of others. I think that often these people are keeping busy to protect themselves because, for whatever reason, they are not content just to be – they don’t like their own company – they don’t like themselves.
This is connected with boredom – which can be a defensive mask – a reaction to unpleasant situations. It is also connected to addiction; one of the triggers for an addictive activity can be boredom and very often the addiction is another way of masking bad or unpleasant feelings. In the moment, the addict feels good, euphoric – though typically this is quickly followed by negative feelings.
One of the keys to beating an addiction is to find an alternative behaviour. This can be an alternative addiction – and some addictions are a lot healthier than others. Replacing a drug habit with a fitness regime, for instance, is a big step forward. But learning just to be – not to rely on external stimuli – can be an immensely important step for an addict, who can learn not to need any kind of masking behaviour, but to be content in their own skin.
It may be something that you find difficult – it may even seem impossible – but actually it’s something that we can all learn to do. Just sitting quietly for ten seconds can be a start – and the ten seconds can become a minute, and so on. There may be demons lurking inside you, but it’s surely better to turn and quietly face them than to blot them out, to mask them, to run away from them.