Everyone around me is always plugged in. Whether it’s on the bus, walking in the street, or sitting at a computer, I’m always in the minority of not wearing earphones. It originally stemmed from the fact that my ears get sore quite easily from the pressure. I’ve tried all sorts; headphones, earphones, different types of cushioning etc., it doesn’t matter, I can never last long. The same goes for screens, while other people might enjoy watching something or strolling through social media on their commute, it makes me feel nauseous.
I sort of just got used to taking this time to think. I thoroughly enjoy looking out of windows and contemplating life. I can spend hours planning weekly menus or the days of work ahead. I used to think that I was really living in the moment, and enjoying my surroundings. The problem is this can often lead to overthinking and over analyzing. Spending hours to myself just thinking about things would sometimes lead to anxiety or ‘what if’s. I’d think too much about work, and then get stressed about things that were no longer relevant.
This of course made me want that distraction of music, or watching something on my phone, instead of having so much time to just think. I started packing a book with me whenever I had a long journey, and would read a few pages at a time. While I was glad to have picked up an old hobby again, I began to feel disconnected from my surroundings, and missed appreciating the things going on around me.
I guess it’s all about finding balance. The more I’ve tried to practice mindfulness, the more I’ve been able to understand what it really means to be in the moment. So I began integrating both of these approaches. I let myself stare out of the window to start off with, taking in the trees outside, the bustle of people walking outside, and when I feel my mind begin to worry, I’ll take out my book and start reading. Because at the end of the day, you can’t truly be present if you’re in your own head.