Television, ipods, and Internet all take up our attention. Texting, email, and cell phones keep us connected to each other all the time. All the noise, contacts and distractions fill up our consciousness to make a never ending din that prevents us from having any privacy or quiet time.
It takes time and energy to stay current with all our social networks. Unfortunately, it also keeps us from turning inward and listening to our inner selves. With this much social interaction, there’s little mental space left to be introspective, creative or productive.
Businesses and schools encourage group interaction to learn and create. But creativity blooms in solitude and quiet. “An artist requires the upkeep of creative solitude,” says Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way.”
In “The Artist’s Way,” a 12 week course for blocked creatives, there is one week where the reader cannot read anything or watch television. This assignment allows the mind to fill the well of creativity. If the mind is drunk on others’ creativity, it gets lazy or overwhelmed. Details drug the mind and it won’t have enough resources to hear the still small voice of the inner self.
Many companies are now insisting their workers have time away from email, phones and other interuptions. They’re more efficient and able to get more done in less time, because they’re more productive.
Social interaction, teams and groups have a place and a role to play. But if individuals are to be more productive, they need to have some privacy. They need to be alone with their thoughts and their projects to let their mental processes simmer. Once they’ve had time to work, they can surface to bounce ideas off of friends and coworkers.
Too much solitude encourages stagnation. Too much collaberation discourages individual ideas. We need to balance both. And if we want to be able to listen to our inner selves, we need to turn off all the devices that constantly scream for our attention. Instead of our focus being outwardly directed to our social networks, we need to turn it inward and allow the well of our inner life to be filled.
~ Linda-Ann Stewart