I have been trying to work on separating myself from my mind-often I feel as though I have a million thoughts racing and swirling around in my head, and 99% of them are not helpful in the slightest. They are often judgmental, critical, and demeaning of my life and keep me stuck in a rut of unhappiness and misery. I have noticed that in times when I am fully present or make a conscious effort to be in “the now” a gap is created in my mind and the thought patterns cease, or at least lessen a bit. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I am truly, utterly happy and free from any other emotions in those moments but I get a sense of relief. The gap most most commonly occurs when I am cooking, knitting, painting or cross country skiing-all activities that I strive to do on a regular, daily basis but wouldn’t think of as particularly “special”. They are just part of my day, but I guess I have made a habit to allow myself to become so involved in what I am doing that the thoughts I normally have cluttering up my mind are a little less present and don’t take up center stage.

The hard thing I am facing now is that sometimes, particularly when I am home from work and have several days off with no structure in place, it’s hard to initiate these activities when my days seem like big empty voids of space. It seems at times so much easier just to turn on Netflix or scroll through Instagram mindlessly and I end up feeling worse about myself. I know things like being creative and exercising are good for me, but getting over that initial first step of starting them can truly be a challenge sometimes. I haven’t painted in a while which is ok since I am unable to bring all my supplies with me up north to Maine, but I thought I would be painting on my days off when I have more free time and access to all the materials. For some reason I have been avoiding it-maybe fear of not being good enough, giving myself a hard time for not painting at all in the recent past-I’m not entirely sure. Last night, despite all the excuses running through my head, I picked up a paintbrush and went for it. My mind quieted and I was able to focus just like in the past. It felt good to produce something but I don’t think that was the ultimate point. I was able to find stillness and focus on the present moment, which felt like a welcome relief. Through this I learned a valuable lesson-that despite what my mind is saying and taunting me with at the moment, I can overcome these thoughts and I am not my mind.

Observing your mind rather than trying to judge what you see there going on in there or analyze it is an essential (though terribly difficult) skill to have in order to attain peace. I found an affirmation I read somewhere a long time ago and want to share it: “In stillness I find my true self”