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  • Emily Burfoot

Have you got hurricane-mind syndrome?

Do you think Einstein was right when he said: “A problem cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”?

I do. And I think this question is so important when it comes to healing global mental health.

Once upon a time it was declared that I had a mental illness. As someone who deeply understood the difference between the MIND (nonphysical), and the BRAIN (physical), I didn’t feel a great deal of resonance with practitioners who conflated the two. I didn’t think of my illness as a permanent brain malfunction anyhow.

I felt certain that in order to learn how to heal my mind, first I had to follow Einstein’s advice, and take my awareness outside my mind. and its thoughts, judgements, beliefs, inner dialogue, narratives and other content.

So I decided to follow the path of meditation, including observation of the mind itself.

When I did this, I noticed that my mind had TWO main patterns of operation:

1. Like a hurricane

2. Like a tree

My mind behaved like a hurricane whenever I was triggered. In this state, my thoughts fixated on a single issue, circling around and around, and totally obscuring my sense of connection with reality. The metaphorical light from the sun (joy of being alive) would also be obscured, making me feel either hopeless and isolated, or manic and ungrounded.

Conversely, my mind behaved like a tree whenever I was in a flow state. Usually this was after a long rowing outing on the river, after a yoga class, after a long run, or while out dancing with friends. When my mind was functioning like a tree, it was a clear bridge between me (the observer and senser), and my environment: the people and places around me. In my tree-mind state, I would often contemplate my connection to and place in the entire cosmos, like my branches could reach out that far and bring me in contact with the sense of awe of being alive in this eternal Now moment.

In my view, gaining control of our own mental health and experiencing the joy of being alive every day has two main components. Firstly, we need to learn how to break the habit of hurricane-like overthinking. Secondly, we need to make lots of time for activities that take us out of overthinking and into our flow state.

“But I don’t have time for that,” I can hear a number of stressed-out people saying.

And there is a paradox here: the more time we spend in a flow state, the more inspiration and solutions to our stresses we receive, because our perception stops being obscured by the clouds of overthinking. The more solutions and inspiration we receive, the less stress we have to carry. The less stress we have to carry, the more we can tune into our joy.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the post-materialist approach to mental health, in a nutshell.

P.S. If you don’t believe me that a healthy mind is tree-shaped, why not take a look at a diagram of a neuron, or brain cell?

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