“Empty Time”

We’re all familiar with the commercialised images of a woman in a bath with cucumber on her face; branded as “me time”. But if your time isn’t being spent on building yourself up for you, then who else is your time for? You could argue that “me time” is a way for capitalism to repackage and resell you your own leisure, which it took away from you in the first place.

Empty time, by comparison, is what I call the time when you are doing nothing. You’re not indulging yourself, but not working for someone elses’s ends either. It is the conscious choice to spend time doing nothing, definitely not consuming. Many people already do this in their “me-time”, for example meditation and the practise of mindfulness is a common past-time. It’s important to distinguish between the two however, lest you slip into a more consumptious leisure and lose the value of that empty and natural time. If you decide instead to watch a movie, or have a bath, you’re losing the value of nothingness, your brain is filling up with delicious stimuli, instead of letting go and embracing the blankness of empty time.

Perhaps the main value is in relaxing. If you’re someone who stresses, it can make sense to actively relax and distract yourself and help yourself forget stressful events and situations, however, that will only last as long as the distraction, and won’t empower you to make good choices when you’re back in the real world. Not only that, but you won’t grow in the same way you would when you embrace doing nothing. You might relax, but you won’t be mindful, your head will merely be distracted, not cleared.

Clearing out your subconscious a little is harder than clearing your consciousness; what you can see in your head can easily be changed by doing something nicer, but what’s underneath requires time, and it also requires rest. It’s sometimes the hardest thing to do when we have a problem to try and relax, but often it’s actually what we need to do, to let our thoughts and our feelings relax and untangle, and start to be processed instead of bundled up. Processing takes time, and to let your head catch up on the backlog you’ve given it, some time doing nothing is worth doing.

But how to do “nothing”? True, I’m being unfair. You cannot really do “nothing”, true. What you can do is make an active decision to allow your brain to catch up. Sometimes this links into calming techniques such as “grounding”, when you breathe deeply and focus on your connection to the ground from a relaxed and open standing position, or alternatively from an open sitting position. Grounding itself can be seen as a more intense version of the advice to get outside and go barefoot every so often, an increasingly rare position in modern life, but a valuable one. For this reason, I like to always be sitting directly on the floor on ground when I give myself empty time; it is more natural, and because it is unusual and less comfortable than a chair it brings my focus to the current “empty” lack of activity and engagement.

Something I’m a huge fan of is writing; whether it’s a diary, a planner, a list or a mindmap, however although this is a good way to unwind generally, it is not empty time, because instead of having thoughts and feelings and letting them process, it is too easy to get distracted and focus on distilling exactly what we are thinking, instead of merely letting the thoughts slide past us. If after you’ve sat down with yourself for a while, you have come to some major conclusions, perhaps at that point it is worth recording them down.

Peace out, thank you friends. ^_^


Day Off Blog Post 9

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