Early Lessons from the Porch

I’ve been sitting on the Porch for six days. Here’s what I now know: When I said this would be easy – I lied. Unintentionally, because I thought it would be easy. In truth, it’s more than a little challenging.

The good news, it’s still possible! With almost a week under my belt it is becoming more normal. Those first few days were not what I thought they would be. Looking back at the experience using what I wrote in my Maple Journal and Notes I can tell you this: Slowing down is much more than stopping.

I sat in my chair, took in the view, and became still. Well, physically still.

Mentally, I was all over the place. “I have to mow the lawn, the appointments for this month are not settled, there’s nothing for dinner, don’t forget to reconcile those accounts, do I have enough points left to eat a brownie…”

(Sidebar: my solution was closing my eyes and focusing on the sounds around me. Who knew crickets and frogs chirped at 3 p.m! I thought they were strictly nocturnal noises. Eyes closed – I heard them.)

To slow down, you’ll need to have a reality check with your mind. It needs to slow down too. Call it the mindfulness movement or being present or whatever you like. Life races by because our minds are too busy to take in everything that is happening right now.

I knew all this, but being on the porch made me hyper aware. It became real.

Then, I could not stop noticing it. My mind was either racing or – worse – looking for more things to take in. SocialMediaToday.com claims people spend an average of 2 hours per day on social media. That sounded crazy until I noticed how often I was checking, and I’m not a big SM person. Why was I checking my apps again, when I had checked them only 15 minutes earlier during a commercial?

Because my brain was looking for more input! And I had a way to satisfy that craving right at my fingertips. My sitcom came back on and I was so distracted by the latest Twitter post that I muted the TV. Missing out on life. Again.

Day 3 had me questioning why I was even on the porch. I considered giving up. My bad mental habits were about to win. At the last moment, I doubled down. No devices on the porch unless they were there for journaling, reflecting or gathering insight from the porch experiment. They had to feed my mind not distract it. I banished list making. I outlawed surfing. I forbid Tweeting, Liking, Following, Snapping, etc.

Honestly, it’s detox, and, I’m not a social media devotee. Still I found myself antsy at the prospect of being without. But I’ve done it (yea!) and I’m going to keep doing it. Because the porch has shed a light on a collection of bad mental habits – constant stimulation, shallow thinking, lack of focus. None of which I was expecting, but I’m grateful to recognize and work to correct now.

Here I thought I was just going to sit there.

Stick with me! Who knows what else we’ll discover on the porch!!

#31DaysOnTheFrontPorch  #MapleThat

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Christine is a consultant, coach and collaborator. Her vision is a tool to nudge people towards the insights that are just out of reach; connecting their deeper thoughts and truest selves to make big leaps forward.

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