lululemon Ambassador Josh Lynott shares the ingredients to embark on a ‘think week’, to give yourself a software reset for the mind
Take me to your favourite forest, to your favourite arrangement of trees. Let's go there slowly, a gentle walk into your imagination. Tell me about the kind of trees that cover the land; Are they pines, redwoods, moss-covered tropical variants or Australiana gums? Slow your breathing down as you imagine the details of the forest and remember the feeling of pine needles crumbling beneath your feet. Take note of the tree roots that turn the path into a puzzle and the sound of old branches cracking in the wind. Let stillness enter your mind and picture yourself standing still with a soft upward gaze at the tree-tops.
We're being hit at all angles with stimulus, information, content and other various mediums of input. The world is a noisy place at the best of times, and recently, it's probably felt a little louder. Specific topics seem unavoidable no matter what we choose to lead a conversation or what activity we engage in. Our mind takes on many roles and tasks every day, and in doing so, we hope that it will let us be the best version of ourselves. To perform physically at our best, we run, do yoga, go to the gym, eat well, stay hydrated, and so much more. To look after our hearts, we spend time with friends and family, hang out with our pets, call loved ones if they're in a place we aren't, show love, receive love, journal and listen to music. Our soul asks us to take on creative pursuits, go on an adventure and explore our curiosities. Last but not least is our mind which is home to but not bound to our innovative processes, processing centre, information network, memory and everything else that makes us who we are. It is truly the most incredible piece of engineering on earth.
If forest air is pure for our lungs, what is the equivalent for our mind? Our mind craves nourishment as our lungs demand oxygen. Breathing and thinking are both autonomous.
We will always be moving air in and out of our bodies like we will be moving thoughts in and out of our brains. It's this perspective on thinking that led me to set out on my Think Week. I had previously heard the term coined before by Bill Gates and wanted to set out and try it for myself. Travel hadn't been singing to me, and physically my body was satisfied, but my mind needed some R&R. I'm happy with my hardware, but my software required a reset. My mind was seated at the dinner table, and it was ready for a three-course meal.... and dessert too. I'll also note that this dinner won't be at a busy restaurant with flames flying from the kitchen. Instead, it'll be at a cabin in the woods. Outside the log cabin, you'll find fresh produce roasting over a campfire and the music of the trees playing in the background.
Let's build out your Think Week so you have all the ingredients to nourish your mind and can reinvigorate yourself.
1. Pick your destination.
If you can, find a place away from home. That cabin I talked about a minute ago is perfect. It's important to put yourself in a new environment. A unique setting allows you to be removed from your regular stimulus. Bonus points if you're off-grid: Give yourself a week away from emails, text messages, social media and all the other usual notifications that chop up your focus and brainwaves.
2. Eliminate decisions.
Eliminating decisions will be a big part of your Think Week. Let your brain put all its energy towards the dedicated tasks of the week such as reading, painting, drawing, brainstorming or writing. Before you go, pick your Think Week outfit. I channelled Silicon valley and went for a matching tracksuit. Every day I wore the same outfit, so I never had to worry about what I would wear in the morning.
Meal preparation is the following key to success. If you can prepare meals and snacks before you go, this will save you a lot of time before the week. And if you don't have time to prepare, at least make a plan of what you're going to cook. This way, you won't have to decide what you're going to have for dinner after a big day of reading. Be sure to pack food that makes your brain happy; For example, foods with extra protein, magnesium and B-vitamins will nourish your neurotransmitters.
3. Choose your stimulus.
Choosing your 'stimulis' for the week is my favourite part of Think Week planning. Choose books that make your brain salivate and take pens that feel glorious to write with. I recommend taking a variety of books for different stages of the day and week. For instance, I'd read non-fiction in the morning when my mind was sharpest and fiction in the evening to let my mind wind down. I took short books with poetry and big books with small font. Like everything in life, you'll go through ebbs and flows. Having a variety of books will keep both your mind and heart happy.
Remember that exercise isn't the focus of Think Week. However, it's still essential to get your body moving, your heart rate elevated, and blood flowing at various points of the day. Set aside 60-90 minutes a day for your desired form of training. I chose to implement movement into my Think Week by running in the morning, stretching in the afternoon and sunset walks. Keep the intensity of your training light throughout the week as you want to be thriving, not surviving.
5. Let people know you'll be away.
Take some time off tech; it's going nowhere and will be waiting for you when you get back. Let people know you'll be away, and don't be afraid to let them know why. Bettering your brain is something we should all do from time to time, and looking after yourself is something you should be proud of.
Here is my email auto-responder:
I hope you’re having a wonderful day. Thanks for getting in touch. I’m currently deep-diving into a great book or brainstorming my next big move. I'm out of the office (not that I have an office) from the 14th - 24th of August. I look forward to chatting when I'm back; I'll be equipped with new ideas and words and raring to go. I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.
Now you've got the staples; it's up to you to pick the spices and find your forest.
Enjoy a Think Week and let your brain breathe.
If you think this is something you'd like to attend but don't want to organise yourself, you can register your interest in an organised and tailored Think Week.