This post titled “Why is it important to take a break?” is a joint effort between Khizer Nawaz and Danielle Davis, contributing bloggers to Pointless Overthinking
“Silence is a source of great strength” — Lao Tzu
Ever since the emergence of coronavirus and lockdowns around the world, we see that too many people have started to talk about being productive all the time. They are going around preaching “if you are not working on your dreams now, it does not mean you ever lacked time, it just means you lack discipline.”
This is wrong because we fail to realize that we are amidst a pandemic. This does not happen every year or even every 10 years. Maybe and hopefully it is the only one we face in an entire lifetime. The next time someone talks about it, feel free to run a 100 meters away from this person.
This kind of excessive productivity all the time is called toxic positivity which in my opinion is being too positive that you stop being realistic. Therefore, you end up expecting unrealistic efficiency from yourself, and inability to meet those expectations leads to beating yourself up. Trust me, nothing good ever comes out from that.
Doing absolutely nothing sometimes is the best thing that you could do. Right now, there is so much noise all around the world that it is essential for us to plug out every now and then.
We lose focus of what’s really important among all this noise. And only when we pause and self-reflect, we realize that we might be headed in the wrong direction. This is where the importance to take a break comes in, it helps you re-align and re-focus.
Let us, instead of feeling pressed to “be productive,” lean into a practice of silence. If you are not familiar with this practice to take a break, it might be a good time to introduce it into your life.
There are many benefits to the practice of silence, and it can be individualized to your lifestyle. Studies have shown that even two hours of silence practice a day can increase the creation of new brain cells. Who doesn’t want new brain cells? Introducing silence into your life regularly has also been shown to increase creativity and help lessen insomnia. And, lowering external input can significantly increase cognitive capabilities and help increase your awareness.
Silence can also help improve your relationships. Too often we spend our time interacting with others planning out what we want to say next rather than focusing on what they are saying. Or we let our mind wander to our to-do list and how busy we are. So how, you might ask, does silence help with the aforementioned? As you start giving yourself space to not answer every message and notification or instantly google some random thought in your head and take a conscious step away from being “plugged in” to your devices, you acquire a stronger ability to focus on the task at hand. This could be anything from driving, a work project or communicating with your significant other.
You may have read this in a previous post, but it illustrates the simple beauty of choosing silence: Imagine walking up to a beautiful pond and stepping to the edge to view your reflection. You see some pebbles at the shore and decide to throw one into the water. It completely distorts your reflection. Now imagine several pebbles being thrown in consistently over and over for an extended period of time. You could stare into that pool for hours and not see a true reflection of yourself. Silence is when you stop throwing distractions, represented by the pebbles, from everyday life and allow the water to become calm. You can see yourself clearly.
So, what does the practice of silence look like? The best way to keep a practice going is to start simply and then build on it as you go. To get started, here are some loose guidelines you can tailor toward your life in order to take a break:
- Pick an amount of time you are willing to devote to your practice, whether it is one hour or an entire day. Commit to the entire time. This is a gift you are giving yourself.
- Pick a date. Clear your calendar and make sure you have minimal obligations. Notify those closest to you about what you are doing so they are not worried if you do not respond to a call or text right away.
- Turn off ALL your electronic devices. This is important because if you hear that beep or feel your phone vibrate the temptation to peek will be great and will likely end your practice sooner than your committed time. This also includes televisions, radios, and computers. Everything.
- No books or reading. What?! Why? Because you want to let your mind settle. That is when the magic happens.
- Limit your interactions with people as much as possible. This is more for their benefit than yours. I practice silence with my husband home, and it isn’t too strange. I will also go to the beach or for a walk/hike. Being in nature is incredible when you are practicing silence. It makes everything more vivid. If some people walk by you and say hello, a nod and a smile allow you to acknowledge them without breaking your commitment.
- Simply take a break!
The most important thing here is to honor your choice to practice silence as a sacred time to connect with yourself, so you can be more present and more “you” when you come out the other side.
It goes without saying that this is not the easiest thing to do. The first couple of times you may find yourself just wanting to listen to music or read a book. It is not easy work allowing your mind to settle. The first couple of hours into a longer session you may find your mind/ego acting like a two-year-old pitching a fit screaming for the toy you took away. Rest assured that you can get to the other side of that. It might be helpful to journal what you are experiencing. Sometimes you just need to put the toddler down for a nap. Do what feels right.
If it all gets too much and you feel the drive to reconnect before your time has been reached, just pay attention to what drew you away. It may be a sign of something that you need to investigate further. Do not beat yourself up. Commit to expanding your practice incrementally. Add 5 minutes to your time next time. Just keep practicing.
Please let us know if you tried this technique to take a break or if you have any questions. If you would like to delve further into silence there are books, articles online and retreat centers all over the world that can help you deepen your practice.
Best of luck to you in your journey and thank you for reading our post.
Danielle Davis’s personal blog can be found here.
Khizer Nawaz’s personal blog can be found here.
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