Mindspace and Whitespace

Today, the world seems to be focused on taking mindshare. Everything tries to take your attention. And it is not different because I am on a break. I could argue it is worse because my brain has even more opportunity to switch between things. The reality is, you are so used to filling your day and mind with things, that you just keep doing it, even if with different things. It is just human nature, or maybe my nature

What is mindshare?

Mindshare can take many forms. It can take the form of worries. It can take the form of what-if conversations. It can take the form of ideas. It can take the form of a to-do list. All these are things that take space in your mind and often don’t allow you to live a life that has space and is light (and potentially allows for reflection or creativity). You may argue that some of these can be good things (like ideas) but it does depend on when they come along or if you are even able to capture them. Sometimes more ideas just create overwhelm. I speak from experience.

What is mindspace?

Over the last few years, the thing I felt I had the least was mindspace. When I have mindspace, I write more, so I can see when my writing gets out of pace because my mind is just so full.

Mindspace was also the thing I needed the most to do my job in a proper way, and where I could really thrive by letting new connections form and questions come to life. As a good planner, I would often create blocks of space in my calendar, like 2 hours first thing in the morning so I could focus, not getting in any to-dos, not go through to any emails and just focus on a bigger picture, bigger project, bigger question. It worked less and less overtime and often my mind got the best of me.

Have you tried to meditate?

The difficulty with these scheduled moment of mindspace is, that when your mind is filled, it has trouble navigating in whitespace. You spend a lot of time just having random thoughts about things you need to do or quick answers to quick problems. All time pressing immediate things that build up in your mind and need to get out.

A bit like I when I try to meditate and I spend a lot of time bringing my mind back to ‘nothing’.  Because my brain fills the space at a very fast speed and does not do well with stillness. But I have hope, they say it is a muscle you need to work on. 

Whilst I find that the bullet journal no doubt has released a lot of mindspace for me, by putting on paper the things I no longer need to have in my mind at all times, it is not a full vaccine.

But back to mindspace

This year, I wanted to have mindspace and have the opportunity to explore and, in line with my word of the year, shed some light on this somewhat crammed mind of mine. Using my newly learned AI-jargon, a bit of reinforcement learning with a balance of exploration and exploitation. Perhaps get some clarity and some ability to explore new questions and opportunities away from the daily pressures of mindshare. And some times dip my toes in areas of interest. Is it working?

A friend said to me this week ‘now that you are not busy, you can come and have lunch with me’. Needless to say shame on me for having a friend say that, but in fact there is no space for shame or blame in such friendships. I digress. My reaction to him was quite different indeed – ‘don’t worry, I am still quite busy, just with many more different things’. What happens very quickly when you have a brain that has no off button like mine, and in all honesty, for many people in today’s day and age, is that you just spend a lot of time doing stuff or planning to do stuff or both. That is how we are wired. The moment we are boarding a flight we are booking another holiday. The moment we are in the theatre’s break we are planning another night out. Hubby B would always half-joke that it would be scary not having me ‘in employment’. Because that would probably just mean I would do 10x more things. The verdict is out on whether he is right but I see early indicators.

In the search of mindspace

It has been a real trouble for me to have any kind of mindspace. Say that you consider reading a book as a way to get mindspace. That’s not what it does for me.  Reading still gets you into a story (if it is fiction I am hooked) or into a concept (if it is non fiction I am taking notes). So the definition is somewhat unclear at times. And clearly not consistent across people.

One way in which I try to create this space is to just drive silently in the car, or alternatively tune in a music that my brain knows by heart and does not engage. I spoke a bit about this when I spoke about my trips to Spain as well, to allow your brain to feel bored. That is when space exists. That is the moment when I am there and even for a short minute nowhere else. There are always the first 10 things that come to mind, and perhaps I stop to note them down (without crashing), but eventually the rush stops or at least slows down. Big thoughts come in. Bigger ideas. Bigger moments.

Am I getting as much mindspace as I thought I might? Not as much. In all honesty I always knew I am not an easy one to pull the plug. So that is part of the process, learning about myself and how I create this space. And what it means to me.

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