The simplicity of the act of doing nothing seems to be a DYING ART. With our work obsessed and technology driven society, we are often rushing around to complete our to-do list, very focused on being productive, efficient and getting things accomplished. Every minute of every day seems to be SCHEDULED from our sleep, our date nights to our children’s play dates.
So much to do!!!
One of the things I knew intuitively when I moved from New York City to San Sebastian, Spain last year was that the act of working really hard is not the key to being truly productive, of being truly happy or even of being truly efficient. I knew something was BROKEN with the system I was operating in and I needed to find another, better system.
In San Sebastian, one of the most magical things I noticed when I first moved here was the sheer number of BENCHES. They are everywhere! Pretty one, ordinary ones; facing the sea, facing the street; small ones, big ones. And all of them are often occupied. By one person, two or a group. I adore this. After reading a blog post about 2 years ago about the systemized removal of benches in urban cities such as NYC and London to deter the homeless from sitting or lying down, my heart was broken for this lost piece of outdoor architecture. Then I moved here and luckily for me benches are still here in abundance. It is one of the most charming aspects of this country, of this city. It seems that the Spanish (or Basques as is the case here!) put the importance of enjoying LIFE as their PRIORITY. They seem to still honor the art of being idle here – often simply staring at the sea for hours on end.
Benches overlooking La Conche Bay – perfect for contemplation
CREATIVITY requires a mind to be able to wander, to try unusual things, to follow random paths. Creativity is the act of being outside the box, to allow for new things, different ideas to blossom. To allow for this to take place organically one need the interior space to allow for this to happen. Chewing on an idea, or a design problem is something that often tasks time to allow your brain, your subconscious to deal with. In simple terms, creativity requires some IDLE TIME in order to exist.
Slowing down allows you to see the world and all its inspiration
Being an Interior Architect, I am naturally a creative person. It is my job to be creative – to design solutions for my clients’ spaces, houses, businesses. I noticed that as technology increased, my ability to focus on the creative aspect of my work became more challenging.
Don’t get me wrong – it has always taken time for me to let go of the “how-to-do” phase of a project and to grasp the creativity of the project. It often would come late night, after many of the mundane tasks were completed, when my mind shifted into the idle mode then the creative design solutions would most often surface.
Finding the time that works for you to tap into your creativity is essential
My Father used to get up in the early dawn hours to write his computer code. He said this was the time when his creativity was richest. Before he started to think about anything else, or started to do anything else he was able to focus the most on his creative work. He too needed an idle mind for his best creative self to surface.
Magnificent creations of art, innovative inventions or wonderful stories are all born from a mind that has had the opportunity to roam freely, to contemplate and to perchance even sit still. From a mind that looks to be doing nothing – be idle, is where true creativity is born. Sleeping and dreaming are often the only sources we now have in our modern world for any idle time though do not lie to yourself and say that this is enough. It is not. You need to make a conscious decision to make the time to be idle and literally allow yourself the space to simply be for your best self to have the chance to thrive.
Enjoy the journey! Allow yourself to simple BE.
With the age of the internet, and technology, smart phones and Wi-Fi being available just about everywhere from airplanes, to subways to public gardens, it is very difficult to unplug per say unless you make this conscious decision to do so. I have intuitively known that it was important for me to unplug though it was not until recently that I fully grasped the need for idle time too. Ten plus years ago, I was able to design my space without Wi-Fi so I was able to disconnect when I was home. Now I work mainly from my home in Spain, it has become necessary to establish these boundaries inside of me and not just rely on external constraints to force me to unplug.
I knew this would difficult. To take time out of each day to do NOTHING seemed to be against every fiber of my body. Though because I believed in the long term benefits, I was able to push through this initial discomfort. I started a daily meditation practice because I believed that I needed to make a CONSCIOUS decision to recreate new patterns to allow for idle time.
Meditation, contemplation, being idle – all are forms of simply BEING present
After a year of focused attention to this, I am happy to say that my daily meditation practice has become as natural as brushing my teeth. I feel the results in my ability to tap into my creative brain more easily. Which is ideal on every level as I am needing to tap into my creative side to continue to write books, blogs, give my design workshops and of course to continue designing the spaces to best serve my clients with new and innovative designs.
The art of being idle, or being present as described in the book, The Power of NOWby Eckhart Tolie, allows us to be more grounded in our context, happier with our present circumstances, more grateful for what we have and ultimately needing less to be happy. It opens our eyes to new things and this alone is very powerful.
My sense of well-being, my happiness with my current circumstances, my sense of joy and my ability to be more creative, has all increased in direct proportion to the amount of time that I have allowed myself to relearn the art of BEING IDLE. The Idler is a modern online magazine that shares the art of being idle and all the freedoms that come with it. http://www.idler.co.uk It is a fun community of like-minded folks that also believe in the powerful benefits from allowing yourself to embrace the art of being idle.
I invite you to start spending some of your valuable time doing nothing but being with yourself. The results will be reward enough.