When was the last time you just sat quietly?
I’m not talking about having quiet time with a book or a craft, or listening to music quietly through your headphones. I’m talking about just being totally quiet and letting your mind wander.
For me, it’s been a while.
I actually can’t remember the last time I allowed my brain to just think. I’m one of those people who likes to keep busy, whether that means working, doing homework, reading, scrolling through the internet, or some other activity. Even when I’m not really doing anything, I still like to have something going on, so I’ll put on a movie or listen to a podcast.
Very rarely do I actually do nothing, which means my brain is stimulated at all times. And not only is my brain stimulated, but it’s imposed stimulation, which means that my brain is being stimulated by an outside force rather than by itself.
The internet is really good for this whole “imposed stimulation” thing. There are so many interesting and funny things on the internet, that it’s impossible to run out. You could scroll through Facebook, Pinterest, or Reddit for hours without getting bored.
Now, I’m not a scientist by any means, and I don’t know much about how the brain functions, but I can imagine that constant imposed stimulation might be pretty exhausting.
That’s why I’m going to try making a change. I’m going to make an effort to give my mind more time to wander, instead of dictating what my brain is supposed to be focusing on 24/7.
I like to think of myself as a fairly creative person, but I’m not sure how I expect my brain to come up with creative concepts when it’s always busy thinking about my homework or my current podcast.
I’m going to make a conscious effort to “unplug” from my devices for a little bit of time each day – maybe ten to twenty minutes – and just let my thoughts wander.
Now I know this sounds a little bit like meditation, but it’s actually very different. When you meditate, the goal is to clear your mind of all thoughts, and just be. When you notice a thought coming into your mind, you’re supposed to acknowledge it, and let it pass. My quiet time is going to be almost the opposite; I’m going to welcome any thoughts that come into my mind. I’m going to follow these thoughts and see where they lead. I’m going to give my brain the opportunity to think creatively, to work through problems, and to just think freely. Both of these exercises are great, but they have different purposes.
Does this sound like an interesting concept? I think it’s so important in this day and age, when we’re constantly bombarded with information from our many devices, that we step back and give our brains a little time to process.
I’d like to challenge you to take some time to let your mind wander. Take a break from the constant imposed stimulants you deal with in everyday life – like the internet, tv, or your job – and just take a quiet moment to think. Let your brain do a little recharging. Open yourself up to the possibility of creative thoughts. Let your brain do some processing of the constant barrage of stimulants it has to deal with.
Here’s a tip: If the thought of just sitting quietly for that long stresses you out, you can fit this into your daily workout instead. Leave the headphones at home, go for a run, and let your mind wander. Or hit the gym and give your brain some time to rest and recharge while your body does all the work.
Are you ready to get started? I know I am. Take ten minutes right now to just think.
Be happy. Be healthy.