Silence is scary.
Have you ever walked into your kitchen and realised that the fridge isn’t working? That moment when you realise that dull humming sound is completely absent is a creepy one.
I don’t consider myself a particularly observant person (I’ve been known to unwittingly ignore my own family because I’m too busy looking at my own fingernails) but silence is something that gets my attention.
As I write this I’m sitting in my local coffee shop – let’s call it Smarbucks – where activity is always happening.
At the counter a couple of Jenner-Kardashian doppelgängers are ordering their frothy frappes to go, whilst a tired looking barista passive-aggressively bangs old coffee grounds into the nearest compost bin. I can hear the murmur of Mums catching up over a cuppa, kids crying for attention and Dido or Norah Jones or whoever playing her greatest hits over the store radio.
But all of this combined doesn’t seem ‘loud’ to me. It’s background noise, a comforting distraction which makes me feel part of a busy little environment where I blend in without too much fuss.
True silence on the other hand, doesn’t feel quite so comfortable.
When I go sleep at night I put my headphones in and listen to music. Whilst I do my make up in the morning I watch my favourite You Tube personalities. As I walk to work I listen to an audio book or a podcast, because I just can’t seem to enjoy peace and quiet.
I’m well aware though as someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, that I need to address this problem. I’m almost certain I’m keeping my eyes and ears distracted as a way to stop my brain from addressing any negative emotions which are bubbling underneath the surface.
I’ve tried meditating, yoga and mindfulness and although I do think all these things work, I’m personally at a stage where I need to take a few baby steps first. So when I came across this focus journal called Five Minutes in the Morning, I thought it was worth giving a try.
I’ve been making time most mornings to sit down with a hot cuppa in my favourite mug (the bigger the better) and make my way through the journal, which is essentially a set of daily prompts to encourage you to write.
I think it’s important to point out that you don’t have to be an eloquent writer to use this journal, in fact, you don’t even need to be a good writer. It’s not necessarily the writing which is important but the time spent focusing on the task at hand.
I find it difficult to sit and be ‘mindful’, wistfully staring into space for five minutes when all I can think about is how much I want to check my phone. My thoughts wander and that’s only natural.
Setting aside this time to write actually forces me to focus on something in particular, helps to start the day on a positive note and gives me space to think clearly before the daily routine takes over.
So what’s in the journal?
Most of the short exercises use writing to explore the theme of focus, whilst some simply require your attention, something which is a great task in its own right.
Some days you will practise clearing out clutter, worries, fears and doubts. Some pages encourage you to explore what really matters to you and how to put those things back at the top your to-do list. There is also a section dedicated to developing your attitude of abundance – celebrating what is good in your life and inviting more of what you wish for.
In a world where we’re constantly striving to be happier, get more done and be more efficient in every aspect of our lives, sometimes we need to stop for five minutes and take stock.
In particular I liked the final set of exercises which help to supercharge your levels of productivity and reach those goals, not always by doing more, but often by choosing how to do less. Doing LESS! That’s something I definitely need to take more seriously.
The thing I love most about this journal is that you can write directly on the pages. The book is small enough to fit in your handbag or bedside table, the paper is matt which is satisfying to write on and pale blue colour scheme is the instant wash of calm which I need every morning.
Above all Five Minutes in the Morning is a creative and emotional outlet, not an essay to be graded. It’s about writing for yourself and to yourself, maybe talking about what you’ve achieved or what your good qualities are.
One morning I wrote that I was feeling tired, drained unmotivated, and just wanted to stay home and eat junk food. I was having a day where I basically wanted to self-sabotage. I wanted to curl up under the sheets and ignore the world and binge eat to feel better. I know myself that this behaviour only heads to guilt, shame and ultimately even more negative feelings and as soon as I wrote that out in the journal I knew I wouldn’t go ahead with those bad habits.
Seeing my feelings down in black and white actually helped me separate myself from them, almost like dumping them on the page helped me let go of them altogether. I think that’s pretty powerful, don’t you?
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