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Embracing our ‘inner geek’

May 27, 2009

On Monday I wrote about the joys of solitude and the invaluable benefits we gain from time spent with ourselves. For people who are unfamiliar with this – and perhaps a little afraid – I suggested maybe spending just 15 minutes a day by yourself writing your thoughts in a journal. Nothing too profound – just stream of consciousness stuff to kick-start the process of getting to know yourself. In a great piece of synchronicity, an hour or so after I posted this I happened to see an episode of Scrubs in which a pastor talked about the importance of taking 20 minutes a day for yourself to reflect – and the name of the episode turned out to be ‘My Words of Wisdom’. 🙂

Anyway, today I want to expand on this concept some more by talking about getting in touch with your inner geek. What do I mean by inner geek? Well, remember when you were a kid and you had some pastime which you loved to do when you spent time alone? It could have been drawing or colouring, building miniature towns with bricks or plasticine, digging holes in the garden, collecting pine cones or pretty pebbles – but the main thing was that this pastime took you away from your conscious self for a while. Time would just disappear and you would almost be in a trance whilst lost in your own little world for what seemed like minutes but was usually hours.  Of course, then we hit adolescence and our former fun pastime became too ‘uncool’ so we ditched it in favour of getting drunk with our mates in the park, swooning over pop stars or hanging round shopping centres. Fitting in with our peers is vitally important to us as teenagers but this urge to conform is often the last nail in the coffin for our essential self.

So perhaps now it’s time for us to hark back to that intuitive wisdom of our child-selves and reconnect with that inner geek we left behind all those years ago. Spending time alone with only your inner geek for company can be just as effective as meditation (but an awful lot easier), as by focusing on our geeky pastime, we are freeing our creative subconscious to sift through and assimilate the contents of our mind without being distracted by our rational, logic-driven conscious mind. The pastime should be something which occupies you manually but is not too taxing or stressful and is not over stimulating to the brain – and definitely not a passive activity involving staring at a screen of some kind. My favourites over the last few years have been gardening, spring-cleaning, baking bread (with lots of kneading) and doing jigsaws. Jigsaw-doing is definitely top of my list though (despite the mirth it’s caused amongst my friends and family over the years). I’ve discovered, via several dozen 1000-piece jigsaws, that when the constant chatter of your conscious mind is focussed elsewhere, the voice of your inner guide has a better chance of being heard. If I have a lot of stuff whirring around in my head and it’s becoming more and more difficult to make sense of it – when I can’t seem to get out of the way of my own thoughts –  I find that spending several hours alone with a jigsaw helps me to clear my mind and put things in perspective. I’ve also come up with some of my best ideas whilst indulging in one of my geeky pastimes – what seemed to be a jumble of thoughts now has the space to become a clear and coherent whole.

I also mentioned that we often leave behind our ‘inner geek’ when we reach adolescence, a time when we learn to mask our true self for fear of not being acceptable to others. Unfortunately, it is this true self which also holds the key to our true life purpose. By re-introducing ourselves to our inner geek, we can therefore also pick up some clues as to what our life purpose might be or who our authentic self really is. Sometimes the connection is obvious – if as a child you liked nothing better than spending the day on the beach jumping waves and checking out rock pools, and you now spend the best part of your life stuck in an air-conditioned office, then your essential self is probably crying out to be exposed to the elements and get back to nature. Sometimes the connection is more esoteric – perhaps your essential self resonates with the wild, unpredictability of the sea but you’ve repressed this part of yourself in an attempt to conform or please someone other than yourself. My own choices reflect my desire to bring clarity to chaos, be it physically, emotionally or psychologically – and as I’ve learned to be true to myself, I now express this soul need in every area of my life, including my work.

So wake up that inner geek of yours who’s been slumbering inside you for all these years –  and who knows, perhaps you’ll also give your true self a long overdue alarm call.

jig1jig2Watch out, there’s an inner geek about…

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