Your best ideas exist in your body. Feeling tapped out probably means it’s time for a specific type of reset, one that allows you to access new flow.
The near stillness recalls what is forgotten, extinct angels.George Trakl
Yesterday morning, I reached for my planner, scanned the day’s appointments and deadlines, and began calculating how I was going to get it all done.
I engaged in mental gymnastics, trying to solve for x in the following equation: The square root of not enough time multiplied by the inverse of the fraction of I need to get crackin’.
A feverish anxiety started circling, and it was strong enough to call me back from the edge of the canyon. I reached for a different decision, thought, and feeling state. How about I open the window, listen to the rain, and pretend I have all the time in the world this morning?
Reset Your Nervous System, Unlock Your Best Ideas
I placed my French Press on the bedside table along with my treasured mug, a pile of journals, and my fountain pen. I leaned my head back onto a giant pillow, closed my eyes, and put my attention on the soft rustling of rain against rhododendron leaves.
5 minutes passed. My coffee was ready, and I had completely reset my nervous system. 5 minutes.
Writing in a couple of my journals continued the wash-and-rinse cycle of slowing my breathing, settling down, and leaning in to listen to what my now-calm mind had to say.
I picked up my laptop and wrote the following post on Facebook:
A bit before 5 am. Resisting the urge to dive into what needs to be done work-wise. Coffee. Journaling. Sophie’s head is on my lap. She’s trying to keep her eyes open. Me, too, but I’m not tired. My fatigue is an insatiable desire for awareness.
I’m thinking about how it feels to be in a lacuna of choice and craving. To react to the chemical patterns of push to get further along, making progress on an arbitrary track.
I’m really good at that game. Driven, they say.
More and more, I let the sweetness of stillness cloak my shoulders. Slowing my breathing, my movement, my brain waves.
I mourn the state of hurry and collect shells from the breakers that surfaced the sediment of me to the shore’s edge.
It’s still dark, but I can feel light curving toward the morning sky. I’ll stay still and not rush the dawn.
I closed my laptop and returned to my journals. I knew the pickaxe that I had been swinging toward the cave wall was nearing a vein of gold. Pick, pick, pick. Little shards of gold dust. And then a block of mud calved from the cave wall, revealing a mother lode of ideas.
Record Your Best Ideas
I wrote quickly to capture it all. The more I wrote, the more ideas came. Page after page after page.
When I had scribbled it all down, I stopped and leafed back through my journal. I was stunned, delighted at the quantity and quality of what had come in the idea torrent. I had inspired, fun exercises for my Sketchbook Entrepreneur Masterclass students, an outline of a short story, and notes for a series of videos.
I was also very clear that if I had not proactively reset my mind one hour prior, nothing would have come from the rusty tap of my imagination. Remember that your best ideas exist within you, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically accessible.
Being still is completely counter to our overachieving selves. We are desperate to race and hurry and fly through tasks and lists. We hurl our bodies toward goals and dreams, and in the process, we can lose touch with the very aspects of our true selves that connect us powerfully to precisely where we want to be.
Give Yourself the Opportunity for Quietness
Our intuition and ideation need gentleness. Quiet. Reflection. Movement. They invite us to listen in all the time, but it is during those moments of stillness that we can pick up the signals and remember to lean in with clutter-free attention.
We are rewarded, greatly, with renewed energy, clarity, and self-trust. Out of the dark cave walls, emerging as sprouting seedlings, we are gifted with some of our most stunning idea angels, once forgotten or extinct.