So, I’ve been listening to this podcast, and it makes me feel a tad bit depressed. I won’t name it here, but I’ll say that it is a great work of art. It’s a really thoughtful look into the lives of some complicated people. I’m pretty hooked on it, and there is only one episode left, so I am indulging and finishing the series. But the reason it makes me feel depressed is that it hits a little too close to home. The real-life people in the documentary are brilliant and funny and also disturbed and depressed. They remind me of so many people in my life over the years. They leave me feeling that life is very sad. Yes, also quirky and interesting, but mostly very sad.
The reason I am writing about this is to point out how sensitive we are to the feelings and stories we take in. Some of us are more sensitive than others, for sure, but we all take on the moods that swirl around us. This morning, I had a hard time getting out of bed to come to work. The weather is so beautiful. I could see the sun beginning to light up the sky from my bedroom window, but I just didn’t want to rise and face the world.
Some of my malaise was the residue of the podcast I was listening to all weekend. Some of it was the residue of some worry and stress I hadn’t completely shaken off over the last few weeks. And then, of course, lots of people are feeling depression surrounding the state of world affairs these days.
My point here, is that what we take in with our minds has a big effect on us. Our minds consume media, conversations and even our own thoughts in the same way that our bodies consume food. We all know that if we eat junk food and drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes we are going to feel cruddy compared to if we eat healthy foods and drink water and spend time out in the sunshine. If one was to go eat out of the trash can, one could expect to get sick. And yet, people frequently give very little thought as to what kind of thoughts they are consuming.
Since I became aware of this notion, a few years ago, I have become more and more selective about what I will watch and listen to. And also about what I spend my time thinking about. I’m not suggesting that we bury our heads in the sand and ignore anything that doesn’t feel good to us. Not at all. We have to open up to those things to help them heal, which helps all of us.
But we also have to be aware to do it in small steps with lots of breaks to come back to the sunshine and fresh air. I call it cleansing the energy palette, and when I don’t do enough of it, I can tell, because I don’t feel as vibrant, clear, and happy.
The reason I just wanted to curl up and stay in bed this morning was due to the fact that in the last couple of weeks I have allowed myself to go from one thing to another without coming back to center. Maybe I start out with some of my own thinking, then I go to being at work and doing what is needed there, then I go to listening to a podcast, then I help my son with his homework, etc. You know how easy it is to get into the grind without coming up for air.
Ideally, I would take time between these activities to cleanse my palette. That, for me would look like some sitting meditation or a walk in nature. Something to bring me back to a balanced and open and positive state of mind. Music can also be a palate cleanser, which is why I keep a playlist titled “Mood boost” on my Spotify. A bath with aromatherapy salts is a favorite palette cleanser of mine. And exercise is a well-known way to cleanse the energetic palette.
If I have spent some time thinking hard or staring at the computer, time for a palette cleanse. If I have been watching or listening to an intense movie or story, time for a palette cleanse. Basically, I need them scattered throughout the day. At least 30 minutes a couple of times a day, and sometimes longer and more often.
These palette cleanses are so important. Without them we can stretch ourselves far from our center and go down some unpleasant and unhelpful rabbit holes. I’ve found that as long as I keep returning to center, I can allow myself to experience all kinds of perspectives. But rather than dwell in them for long periods of time, I limit them and then come back to those things that I know will bring me back to a good state of mind.
I good friend of mine used to always tell me “No horizontal thinking!” She felt that if we think when we are laying down, we tend to worry more. It took a while for me to connect with that saying, but I get it now. I always know that the sooner I get up and out into the world and into the flow of life, my energy will get moving and feeling alive and grateful for the day. So, that’s one thing. No horizontal thinking.
As I was getting ready to drop my son off at school, I heard my own voice in my head say to me “Some days are just not for deep questions.” Sometimes we just have to turn off the thinking. We have to recognize when it is helpful and when it isn’t. It depends so much on our frame of mind. If the frame of mind is sad because of a podcast we were listening to or tired because we just woke up, then our thinking will be counter-productive. At these times, I find that it is just better to quiet the mind and put one foot in front of the other.
Perhaps I’ve been working a little to much or maybe thinking a little too much, both things that I tend to do when I get a little off center.