Why You Need Down Time and Brain Space

Down time and brain space, in short, allow us to think.

Some refer to it as meditation, and essentially, this is what meditation does–clears the mind so the right things can enter into it.

Meditation: continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation (Dictionary.com).

Down time and brain space allow us to do the following things:

  • to reconnect with our true self and subconscious in order to make the right decisions by identifying true needs, desires, and goals; where we currently are with respect to those goals; where it is we’re going; and are we on the right track
  • to find the right course of action to a nagging problem
  • to be able to learn new things

Reconnecting with true self, goals, and making the right decisions

When we are over-committed, exhausted, and have no time to think, we cannot hear what our large, perceptive subconscious is telling us.

It’s too easy to fall into a groove, go through the daily motions, and lose touch with not only what we truly need and want, but also the direction in which we are moving.

Water released into a canal system will flow only where the pipes lead.

Our goals are more like a ship on a sea–fluidly adjusting the course amidst shifting winds and currents in order to achieve the desired destination. This is the state we must keep ourselves in: not rigid and defined, but free to adjust when conditions change or obstacles appear.

We must also sail on the surface of the sea, where we maintain our view into the distance, rather than be stuck in a maze of pipes where all we see is darkness and the closeness of walls holding us in.

Finding solutions to problems

When I have a day off, sometimes it’s nice to lie down for a nap, or sit outside with a coffee and do nothing. This usually doesn’t last long because my emptied, relaxed brain starts to flood with ideas–typically writing ideas, things to organize and implement, and creative solutions to nagging problems.

It was one such day, after several days on vacation at home, that I found the solution to a problem that set my goals in motion again. Had I not had this down time, the idea would never have entered my thoughts, and I could have jeopardized the very process that is leading me to my goals, lost a critical opportunity, and put years of blood and sweat already invested in this endeavour at risk.

Learning new things

Learning something requires space in the brain to allow the influx of new information and ideas. It takes time and effort that may be difficult to calculate accurately in advance, hence it involves risk. When we are over-committed and exhausted, we won’t even go there!

People will learn when they are ready, able, and primed to receive. [Tweet this.]

Let’s take the example of my desire to learn to make videos with Animoto. It was something I had no background in, so it was going to pull my brain in a new direction. I did not know how much time it would require, or how easy or hard it would be. Since I couldn’t add more to my presently overflowing plate of jobs and commitments, I put it off for months to a time when I knew I would have my carefully engineered, self-imposed down time.

It turns out I did not need to wait that long at all. It was absolutely, surprisingly easy! The thing that required the most time was transferring photos between my slow, out-dated computers!

But who was to know? Besides, having set aside extra time, I got to explore the program fully, play with it, and make plans for the near future to make a novel trailer longer than 30 seconds.

In contrast, there was the flop with my WordPress URL, the one I created by accident and can’t delete without destroying that URL forever. I’ve spent a great deal of time searching the site for options, emailing people, and just mulling over what to do.

This is the kind of risk I’m talking about. A seemingly simple task opens the door to countless other questions and a spiderweb of additional, unforeseen tasks and consequences.

We need time and space to experiment, make mistakes, and create.

We need a relaxed mind to accept wisdom from our body and subconscious.

We need clarity to discover truth and be able to implement what’s right for us.

Down time and brain space are important for all of us, no matter who we are or what our age. It is necessary to carve out time for ourselves to think, regardless of how busy our schedule, for the consequences of not having it are more expensive.

Go ahead; make an appointment with yourself in your calendar. In pen!

© 2012 Eva Blaskovic. All rights reserved.

About Eva Blaskovic

This blog has moved to http://www.evablaskovic.com.
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2 Responses to Why You Need Down Time and Brain Space

  1. Sherie says:

    Eva, you have hit the nail on the head! Down time and meditation are key to allowing new ideas into our brains and so often, we are so overwhelmed with everything that we forgot to do the one thing that we really need to do.

    You illustrated this so well in your example of doing the animoto videos…which turned out to be easier than you thought they would be! I really like your idea of making an appointment with yourself (in pen, none the less!) in a calendar. I am going to go do that right now! Great post!

  2. Spot on, Eva! It’s like a mental version of a deep-breathing exercise. Actually, the articles on this blog often help me to free up space in my head. Just reading them enables me to visualize the pictures you paint with your words. I’ve said it before in so many ways, but this is the web version of something that you can buy in tablet form.

    Thanks, as always.

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