Shakespeare knew a thing or two. He even knew a thing or two about wellbeing, centuries before that word was used. He knew that sleep “knits up the raveled sleave of care” and is the “balm of hurt minds“. He knew about the power of negative thoughts to create false realities in our heads: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” And he knew that going for a walk is often the best way to feel calmer: “…a turn or two I’ll walk, To still my beating mind.”
So much of the advice I give in my books doesn’t need links to scientific research: we often know how to heal ourselves, either instinctively or through the shared wisdom of centuries of human experience.
And now YOU can share your own insights and discoveries and opinions in a creative competition organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I am honoured to be one of the authors invited to provide inspiration by producing our own creative responses to that quote from The Tempest, “…a turn or two I’ll walk, To still my beating mind.”
You can see my response and the others at the bottom of the page at this link. You’ll see a picture of me actually walking, while looking suitably pensive. I really enjoyed doing it. I didn’t really have time but sometimes it’s important to make time to slow down and focus on a creative response instead of just trying to work, work, work.
- Fresh air feels as though it’s cleaning my lungs and my blood, airing my brain.
- Nature is absolutely beautiful! It could be the wonderful views, if you’re lucky enough to have them; or it could be seeing a spider’s web in a tree, glistening with dew, or a tiny wild flower or curious bird, or just looking up at the vastness of the sky.
- Steps – we all know that walking a decent number of steps each day, rather than sitting at our desks, is good for us. I aim to do a minimum of 12,000 a day and I usually do many more. That’s pretty good for an author, bearing in mind that authoring usually involves sitting all day. (I cheat by having a treadmill and standing desk.)
- Ideas – walking (or running) is when I get ideas about books, articles, menus, or things I want to do.
- Solutions – walking or running is when the things I couldn’t work out while I was looking at a computer screen suddenly become clear.
- Distance – I feel I’m leaving problems behind and grasping a brighter future.
But what I love most about the quote
is that Shakespeare has spotted that our minds do seem to “beat”. We know it’s our heart that beats and minds don’t actually do any such thing but he has identified that our mind feels as though it beats and sometimes how something feels is all that matters. It’s our reality and it’s a shared human experience.
And when we notice that, that’s when we can actively slow the beating, dial down the alertness and anxiety, smooth over the worry lines in our mind.
Parents and teachers, if you live or work with children aged 4-11, do have a look at this wonderful competition. It’s a fabulous springboard for thinking and creativity, while also building healthy minds and bodies. And follow @ShakespeareWeek and #ShakespeareWeek on Twitter.