The Chinese Finger Trap is a toy that is used to play a joke on the unsuspecting victim. It traps their fingers in both ends of a woven bamboo tube. The natural panic response of pulling the fingers outwards tightens the trap. The trick is to relax and push the fingers further into the trap, whereby it loosens and the fingers are released. It’s commonly used as a metaphor for problems that can be overcome by relaxing — i.e. not trying too hard.
I find it ironic that when I deliberately set about solving a problem, or searching for inspiration, my mind often draws a blank. The harder I think, the more confused I get. I can almost feel my brain straining.
But I’ve noticed when meditating — trying to still my mind — useful thoughts and ideas are abundant.
This creates anxiety during my meditation — I want to stay focused in the present moment, but I can’t concentrate on my breathing because I’m anxious about forgetting what I’ve just thought by the end of the session.
I tried writing my thoughts down. But opening my eyes and the act of writing took me right out of the ‘flow’ state that I get into while meditating, and I’d either have to start again or quit my session. Not ideal!
I found a better way.
I set up a voice recorder when starting my session. Any form of recording device will do, though a smartphone based app with silence detection is ideal. It only records when it hears sound, so I don’t have to trawl through 30 minutes of silence afterwards to hear my insights.
It’s so simple, and it works. The main technique of mindfulness meditation is to acknowledge your thoughts and return to your focus (often your breathing). Now I can acknowledge my thoughts verbally, knowing they’re recorded for later use and truly let go.