Headless child on the swing and other thoughts on calming the mind


He looks out the window and sees himself in the yard as a little kid.  The child sits on a swing, swings fast back and forth. The child has no head at all. The vision doesn’t terrify him. It’s a calm sight, and he’s smiling.

This dream was shared by an entrepreneur who is involved in our coaching and peer group for entrepreneurs over the age of 55 this autumn. We talked about how we understand well-being and its meaning in the group. We talked about strain and recovery. We talked about how much we need to remember, know, plan, calculate, evaluate – to think. Another entrepreneur in the group said that sometimes the head is so full of ideas, it feels like it’s boiling.

For many, today’s working life requires a lot of thought effort. When the brain boils, the body also boils. The deep parts of the brain regulate the functions of the body in the same way as they regulate thinking and mind. Minna Huotilainen and  Mona Moisala write in the Keskittymiskyvyn elvytysopas that, when we jump from one job task to another, we can get stuck in a fight or run state where both our minds and bodies are constantly over-tuned. We’re just trying to survive.

As a counterbalance to the multitasking, pressurized and constantly hurting activities, Huotilainen and Moisala write about “peaceful activities”. These are repeated, monotonous activities, where the mind is free. Rest is, of course, a calm state of action, but body movement is also an effective way to reduce the pressure on the brain. These activities can be peeling potatoes, weaving socks, or a workout.  One of the entrepreneurs described how chopping firewood opens and relaxes the mind.

Being together with other people can also get the mind to relax,  as well as giving the brain and body other challenges than what the work offers. According to the researchers, there are many kinds of good ways to recover from work. It’s important to recognize what you need and miss.

The swing is moving back and forth. Back and forth. Out of the ground, out of time, detached from thoughts. A headless child does not remember, know, plan, count or evaluate. All he has is a physical experience that goes on and repeats, over and over again.

Could you, an adult, go swing in the yard?


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