Are you afraid of idleness?

you need more time for just ‘being’Like many, you may feel most comfortable when you’re being productive. That’s okay as long as you balance purposeful action with directionless rest. Unfortunately the notion that the devil lurks in idleness has a big grip on our culture and psyche. Even the word idle may send shivers down your industrialized-work-ethic spine. The problem is the kind of rest your nervous system needs and creative mind requires is exactly the kind that lollygagging and wool gathering offer. Down time means spacious time at home, in the tub, in nature, listening to music, reading novels…even museum/gallery crawls or meditation will do – as long as they’re aimless. (No screens!)

Here’s the tip. If you already know that you need more time for just ‘being’, see if you’re ready to make some changes. If yes, start with just 5 minutes. Make a cup of herbal tea. Shift your attention from thoughts about what you should be doing to your body’s experience here, now. If you feel like climbing the walls, be gentle with yourself. Find sensations that feel calm (check your feet/ hands). Move awareness back and forth between agitated and calm sensations for 3 minutes. Watch as the calmness spreads just by virtue of bringing attention to your body. If you still can’t settle down, seek professional evaluation for food allergies, over medication, or other physical/emotional issues.
Remember, making time for idleness increases not only your joie de vivre, but paradoxically also increases productivity. Don’t just do something, sit there! ©

Penelope Young Andrade, LCSW
From The Life Connection, December 2014

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