what our brain does when it does nothing at all
I am so happy to present yet another wonderful post by Lisa. Without knowing she wrote about the reason why my sailing and Sahara seminars have such an impact:
Sometimes it happens, someone asks me:“What are you thinking about right now?“ Suddenly I am torn from my thoughts which were just wandering on their own. In order to come to a suitable answer I try to structure the chaos in my head and bring my thoughts into some order. But then my only answer is: “Well, nothing.at all“ Knowing that this is not true at all.
Because our brain never stops spinning the wheel.
Amazingly I find my own mind on special colorful routes, coming up with the most creative ideas when I am not productive at all. When I feel almost bored.
Like recently in Melbourne. Far away from my routines and social network I found myself with lots of time and my brain with unsuspected capacities. I used to stroll around without destination when my mind came up with a thunderstorm of thoughts – memories from my early childhood, the taste of long forgotten dishes; dialogues that have never happened; people I never met… it felt like a theatre play of my past, present and future mixed together with countless actors and endless storylines. Way too complex to put it into words. Daydreams…
Some brain researchers explain those moments with the so called DMN (Default Mode Network) which gets activated when our brain is not occupied with other tasks. The DMN does not respond to stimulations from the outer world but is specialized in introspection and the processing of experiences. This makes it essential for the construction of our identities: In an ongoing inner monologue we are telling our own story over and over again. As if the DMN is working itself through a huge pile of ‚post its‘ that were hidden in our unconsciousness. Piled there through our daily experiences. And it keeps assigning, structuring, reinterpreting. Building the basis for reflected decisions.
That is why we come up with creative ideas and complex troubleshooting when we less expect them… under the shower, taking a run, or staring at the ceiling.
But in our modern overstimulated world, tight schedules keep our brain constantly challenged. And we don’t have much time for letting our thoughts wander. That’s why my experience in Melbourne taught me to leave space for idleness. Because I am more in line with myself and my life when I let my thoughts wander around regularly.
Aristotle would be proud – in antiquity the highest value was idleness.