Close your eyes
'I close my eyes and count to ten
And when I open them you're still here' - Dusty Springfield
I was looking at that Dusty Springfield lyric recently. It suddenly connected to something that had been nestling in the back of my head for a while.
It's the concept that if you close your eyes and count to 10, the person (or inanimate object) you're with may still be there - but they're also often accompanied by some new thoughts and ideas.
My minor revelation stemmed from something we probably all know:
We're over-stimulated in this world we live in.
Look at this, look at that, look at me.
Watch this, that and every other thing going.
Look at your phone, this meme, that cat video.
But... just close your eyes for a minute.
Yes, I realise you won't be able to read this post. But don't worry. As Dusty says, I'll still be here when you come back.
Close your eyes and count to 10. Slowly.
Now bat your eyelids open.
Hello. Welcome back! Did you see anything while you were away?
Did a thought about something on your mind creep in there?
Did you remember something you needed to do?
Did you lose count?
None of it matters. What matters is that you shifted your perspective from the external world to your internal world.
By paying attention to the internal world - learning to observe and accept what's there - you can discover things. Not only about yourself, but the power of your brain can make shifts to new or unconnected thoughts in mere milliseconds. Which is what's otherwise known as ideas.
Some people find this scary. Their internal world is one they spend most of their lives trying to escape from, by diverting their attention onto all those attractive, external distractions.
Looking inward is a creative muscle you can exercise. And it should get a workout from time to time. The good news is the only effort required is to just close your eyes. This is an amazing tool, pre-installed in our heads. We don't pay nearly enough attention to it. We mostly just let the brain do its own thing, and only really 'look after it' when it starts to malfunction - either physiologically or when it's presenting as anxiety, depression or another mental health condition.
Nurture, appreciate and notice your internal world. Just as Dusty suggests: by closing your eyes and counting to ten. And when you open them, the world will still be there. Along with a bunch of new thoughts, I imagine.