I commuted to the city last week for a couple of days to attend a training course - a brilliant two days being taught by Dr John Arden, a world expert on neuropsychology - all about Brain Based Therapy - rewiring your brain. Fascinating stuff and will be really helpful and add so much value to my work. And he has really got me thinking - about nothing.
Watching the other commuters they were attached to phones, texting and catching up on social media, possibly reading or listening to music, an endless flow of information ready and available at the touch of a couple of buttons. Our trains even provide wifi!
I know I am over 40 (old my teenagers say) and can remember a time the only phone I had was shared with my family and attached to the wall in the kitchen!! Back in those days commuting was a time for daydreaming or getting lost in a good book. Spacing out or thinking about seemingly nothing was facilitated by life. And it turns out this is very good for us as it allows our Default Mode Network (DMN) in our brain to fire.
Our Default Mode Network is a pattern of brain activity which is involved in remembering events in our lives and is involved in imagining what others are thinking as well as our own emotional state. Collectively this network is critical to our sense of self. It is a place we go to make sense of our world and the source of creativity and insight. We spend about 30% of our waking hours in the DMN and our tendency to go there increases when we are bored - a state we seldom get to these days.
Of course what we do when we are in our DMN is important as negativity and obsessing are not helpful and malfunctions in the DMN are associated with various mental health issues including schizophrenia and depression. But it could be the space where creativity abounds and dreams take shape and importantly how we make sense of our world and our role in it - a very important form of self care.
So if daily life does not naturally bring in the space for space out time perhaps we need to create it for ourselves - take some time to lie on the grass and watch the clouds with the phone on silent. Have a go and see how much better you feel.