Monday, 4 August 2008

Less is more


The retreat, which was not an organised event but a self-directed stay in a silent retreat centre, was not demanding, with just a few hours of sitting meditation every day and many hours of sleeping and reading and walking in the countryside. With lots of rest and only very, very whole, whole foods, no alcohol, no coffee etc, it was really as much of a rest and detox cure as a meditation retreat. I left Devon a little less grey-white in the face and flabby in the belly, and feeling healthier than I had for rather a long time, got on the train for a 4 ½ hour journey – crowded train, very hot day, air-conditioning not working properly – and got off in London with all the symptoms of a lousy cold, which has had me rather ill for the past week.

Perhaps the discomfort and high fever, along with the usual major backlog of work that follows a holiday, account for the tone of my blog posts. Reading the comments, I thought: oh dear, do I sound depressed? I’m not actually depressed. More the opposite, actually. I’ve noticed for some years now this rather disconcerting syndrome: when I’m ill I get more done, and with less anguish! I can see exactly why this is. It’s because with only about 25% of my mind available it just all gets on with the job in hand, perhaps a bit slowly and perhaps not very imaginatively, but gets it done. Out of action is the other 75% which normally busies itself frantically with reflection, self-reflection, reaction, over-reaction, thinking it all through again and again, assessing and reassessing the many alternative approaches and priorities, rejection, anger, boredom, obfuscation… Aiee. Are many people like this, I wonder?

7 comments:

marja-leena said...

I'm glad you are not depressed, Jean, though your cold doesn't sound nice of course. As for your question, I think I can get like that sometimes when my creative juices are their most active while other parts of my life get too hectic at the same time, and I may be sleep-deprived as well. It passes thankfully and usually life is quiet for me. I do need time alone to keep in balance, like your retreat does for you.

Rosie said...

That is the trouble with detoxing, it leaves you nice and clean and available for new bugs to settle in! I am not much good for anything other than detective novels when I am ill...I think you must have grey matter to spare.
With bipolar I swing drastically between sleepless overproduction and torpid stagnation.I have to have time alone or I get tangled in knots.

Zhoen said...

Adrenaline junkie. Maybe you are just bored and under challenged. I do better when I am bery busy and very engaged - physically and mentally.

Dale said...

:-) Yes. I always get much more done when I'm sick.

Dave said...

Yeah, I think our entire society runs on sleep-deprivation and more or less permanent distraction.

YourFireAnt said...

I think the illness is actually the cure for what was wrong in the first place. Thus it doesn't surprise me that one gets more done when sick.

FA

leslee said...

I don't know how many people are like that, but I certainly relate. Sometimes being overtired and/or ill works like a drug that blocks the Incessant Critic in the brain. Too bad the side effects are so nasty. Feel better!