You’ve probably heard the expression: an idle mind is the devils workshop? It basically means that we need to have something to keep us busy in thought or action in order to keep the bad thoughts at bay. If we let the bad thoughts in we may become depressed or we may act out and do something wrong just for the sake of having something to do – both works of the devil, in so far as this saying goes.
I understand the need to have interests, hobbies, activities, and outlets for one to focus on, they can create fun, develop artistic talents and skills, and can lead to promising careers that will help us to provide a living for ourselves and our loved ones. But I think it is actually very important that one spend some time with an idle mind.
In my personal battle with depression, I can remember on numerous occasions, turning to an excess of activity to keep my mind busy elsewhere, focusing on anything else other than how much I hated myself, or how deep in despair I was. I would spend hours in the gym, working on my body, I would study for hours on end, determined to finish number 1 in my graduate school class, I would meet friends as often as possible, so we could hang out, I would read books on any subject under the sun, and I would watch tv: comedies, documentaries, drama etc. whatever it took to keep my mind and body occupied and keep the devil at bay.
I don’t mean to say that any of these are bad: I am grateful for having developed a strong, and healthy body of which I am proud through my hours in the gym. I am glad for the effort I put into my studies: I learned many subjects, was able to secure employment and I learned the value of hard work. I am grateful for the laughter shared with friends, and the bonds that were developed and strengthened. I gained so much knowledge, and wisdom through my readings, enjoying many exciting stories, and discovering for the first time many of the works that I reference here in my blog. The tv, sure, I don’t even regret that, it gave me a great outlet for entertainment and could put a smile on my face when so few else could.
The problem was not what I was doing, but why I was doing it. As I mentioned, I was doing it because I was too afraid to stop and be alone in my own thoughts. I was too afraid of what I would come to find out about myself if I let myself have an idle mind. I am definitely not advocating that you be nothing but a sentient blob who does nothing: no career, no relationships, no hobbies, no passions, these are many of the things that make life beautiful and worth living. I do think though that you need to be able to be alone in your thoughts. If this is painful or frightening right now, then I think you have some serious reckoning to work on with yourself.
I would highly encourage you to practice meditation. Many cultures have a history of meditation and differ accordingly, but the core principle is in clearing the mind and getting in touch with your inner self. It is about finding peace and belonging in the universe simply in ones existence. Meditation is something that I try to do every day, I began practicing using the Headspace app which taught me the basics. The important thing about meditation is not how long you do it for, or even how good you are (you probably wont be able to clear your mind at first) but simply that you do it at all. The act of being still, idle and focused within will have a calming effect and can help remove the stress or need for constant stimulation.
I hope you all have exciting, stimulating lives, full of strong relationships, exciting hobbies and adventures, but I hope that you are able to sit still, be idle, and be perfectly content doing nothing at all, and find happiness in yourself.