Thursday 3 September 2015


Life is a blur. Or it has been. Ever since I stopped working in an office - about six years ago - days and nights merge. There is no "clocking off" at 5pm. There is little down time. And that's not a complaint - I love my job(s). It's an observation. But in the past couple of years I've been craving more clarity.

If I'm completely honest, returning to Instagram - and blogging - has been a big part of the blur. It feels as if there isn't any downtime anymore. There's constant noise in my head. While I'm not an anxious person, I can feel the levels rising. This is exacerbated by lack of sleep - due to children and work.

However, there has been a lot of good that has come from reconnecting with people who have similar interests and ideas on living. And engaging in social media is a great resource for my work as an interior stylist and design blogger - finding emerging brands and getting industry news updates as well having a big dose of visual stimulation. So while I experience moments of frustration, I don't want to disengage from it. Not for now, anyway.

But I have been looking at ways to create more focus during my days. This applies equally to my roles at home and work. Quite simply, when I'm not focussed on a task - either checking in intermittently on my phone or computer (for emails, apps or websites) - it takes longer to complete and the days spill into long nights. I need to compartmentalise my engagement with social media so that that I am not always "connected". This might seem obvious - but the pull is strong - and has been the subject of many scientific studies.

Again, our holiday has played a big role in being able to execute these ideas. And this is why I love travel - it is a way to break from a regular routine and conceive new ways of being and test them out. Likewise, when I was on a recent artist residency, I pulled away from social media and incorporated meditation into my day.

I have been interested in the idea of meditation for many years now. Ever since I had children, really. At first it started in the form of a regular yoga practice. While I was working in the city I went two to three times a week. I found that I enjoyed the quietness of it. After I went freelance, I attended some classes at a local gym but because they played loud music it wasn't relaxing. It was silence that I was craving. Over the years I've also enjoyed swimming laps as another form of meditation. Again, it's related to the lack of "noise" in the water and having to focus on the task of breathing rather than letting thoughts run in a stream of consciousness.

I also realise that when I lived at Bondi Beach, before children, and walked or ran every morning alongside the ocean, I was engaging in a form of meditation too. I would always exercise without music - preferring silence, and listening to the natural world around me. This was pre-Instagram - a time when I didn't take my phone everywhere, and I realise now that I was better off for it.

While I don't currently have a bath at home, I have always enjoyed them for their tranquility. And it was while taking a bath on the retreat that it struck me that ideas on meditation have always been around - for hundreds if not thousands of years. It's just, perhaps, that people would take a long soak in the tub and enjoy the solitude of that. Write in their diary. Sew, bake, garden. Or go for walks along the moors - or country trails, the beach... 

Now, as a society, we need to schedule meditation into our days. And we are commodifying it. We enrol in classes or download apps or go on retreats. While all completely fine - it's an interesting sign of our times.

Recently I read the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington and she talks at length on the benefits of meditation. There are various apps and websites she recommends too. However, I do not feel comfortable using technology to disconnect from it.

Instead, I have recently been trying to have 10 minutes of daily focussed meditation. I find a quiet place, where I will not be disturbed, sit up straight, cross my legs and close my eyes and focus on my breathing for 10 minutes. I set an alarm so that I don't need to check on my watch every few minutes. Whenever my mind wanders, I push the thought to the side and concentrate on breathing.

I did this every morning during my retreat and it gave me so much focus. And something wonderful happened - my creativity returned. I hadn't been able to write for months, if not years. But free of all the "noise", the words and creative stories kept on flowing. And new ideas formed in unexpected moments - times when previously I would have been checking in or chatting online.

I also felt less anxious and more grounded. The clarity was back.

While I was away, I also made a point of not looking at my phone and social media first thing in the morning upon waking. I would wait until after breakfast - about 9am - and then after a short period I would log out of all applications. I didn't return to it until the evening when I gave myself another designated time period. I confess that at first my fingers were twitching.

But I held strong and felt so much better for the experience. And it didn't just affect my creativity. I was more motivated to eat better, exercise and sleep earlier. Every morning I did a round of yoga and at some point during the day I went for a walk. What I realised was that the more I meditated and the more I engaged in all of these activities, the more I wanted to do it - to not break away from the good will I'd created with myself - and the better I felt and the more focused I became. It was a perpetual cycle of wellbeing.

However, the retreat was an extraordinary scenario. I didn't have children waking through the night or coming into the bedroom at the break of dawn. I wasn't juggling family and work, and other commitments. 

Since I have returned home, the old habits are creeping back. But I am trying to push them away. And to find a middle ground. At this point it is not feasible to meditate after waking. But after the school drop off and before the working day begins, I try to give myself those 10 minutes of quiet time to set myself on the right path for the day. And even though the meditation has been intermittent, I feel the most focussed I have been for a long time.

I have chosen to write about this because it has helped me greatly, and if you are having similar thoughts or experiences, it might be of benefit for you. 

But perhaps you have other strategies to deal with the busy-ness of life? I would love to hear your thoughts on social media too - what role it plays in your life. And if you meditate - in any form - and what works best for you.

image the indigo crew


  1. Really good to read this. My head is foggy and my tummy tight and i forget to take a breath often so last night I booked to go to a meditation class for the first time next week. Will make sure I go now thank you

    1. Thanks Molly - I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your experience. It's amazing how we really do forget to breathe sometimes. In the book Thrive, Ariana Huffington says that when she's feeling stressed or anxious that she makes herself stop and focus on her breathing, and this helps her find her way again. I hope the class works well for you.

  2.'s so timely for me to read this. I have a 15month old and after leading a very busy life as a senior manager I thought that I would easily transition into looking after a little one and some part time work... what I didn't take into consideration is the fact that I am an introvert and with no time to myself I feel my energy levels depleting and my mind becoming more foggy. I 'know' the strategies to help myself however I too slip into the 'busyness' of day to day life. Last night I was thinking that I should set myself a little routine to meditate or have a bath each day and try and stick to it!! I do wonder how many of us are so caught up in being 'good' at many things that we forget to actually look after ourselves... after all... I do know that if I am healthy and have a clear mind that I will be more present with my daughter and achieve more in a day...

    1. Katie, I think it's something that many of us fall into - focussing on everything around us rather than looking after our own wellbeing. The silly thing is that often just 10 minutes a day can make all the difference but sometimes it can feel so hard to set that time aside. When my children were that age, just sitting down to drink a cup of tea in quiet was a wonderful way to wind down a little and prepare myself for the next part of the day.