Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
Milan (26): “I worry about everything. About how I should tackle matters, but also about the way in which I have done things. I get tired from all that thinking. How can I create peace and quiet in my head?”
Ingrid: I’m on my bicycle heading into the city centre. I have cycled this route along the Maas many times, but never before did it catch my eye. It is only now that I see the poem on the facade of De Bordenhal theatre. I get off my bike to read it and I think it is beautiful.
It happens regularly that life passes me by. For example, I can watch television without seeing anything or eat without tasting anything. At times like that, my thoughts have literally taken me to another place. I ruminate on a conversation that I had earlier that day or make preparations for a job that needs doing. Useless, but that’s how our brain works. And by ‘our’ I don’t just mean yours and mine, Milan.
Our mind is sometimes referred to as monkey mind. Just like a monkey, thoughts jump in all directions. If we are not aware of that, our mind is often somewhere else than our body. That place where we are dwelling in our thoughts, in the past or in the future, is often not so pleasant. It is stressful and it makes us gloomy. A terrible pity. Also because these mental digressions result in us missing out on a lot. Like poems on the facade of a building, television programmes, meals and everything nature has to offer.
Tame your monkey and practice mindfulness exercises. That is nothing more and nothing less than training your attention. Constantly ask yourself where your thoughts have gone to. If you notice that your thoughts are straying and you find yourself in a place where you don’t want to be, bring yourself gently back to the here and now by focusing on your breathing or your senses. See, smell, feel, listen and taste. In short, live. The here and now is often not such a bad place to be in.