Unstructured time is the new wellness trend.
When is the last time you experienced a day, or even an hour, which was not filled with media, exercise, commuting or a specific task oriented achievement? Think back to the moments of childhood that were empty. Can you remember the capacity that you had to imagine and create out of the emptiness? By age 7 or 8 we are at the height of being able to magically create and manifest the visions and play of our imagination. Most of us had not yet been told that what we imagined was impossible. The tie between empty unstructured time and imagination is strong. So much so, that when we over determine our schedule and experiences, we disconnect from the part of our being that dreams and creates.
Your value as a human being is not measured by your productivity. There are downfalls to living in a capitalist economy based off production and consumption. Capitalism relies on the commodification of eating, dressing, exercising and even spending time with friends and family. For many of us, our identity is often tied to our output, production and success. This can be sustainable for some but there is also a danger that certain core aspects of self can be lost, ignored and under nourished when the emphasis is placed solely on what you “do” versus how you “be.” Human beings are at a critical point in evolution, when the most revolutionary act that we can practice, is simply not consuming. It is much harder than any other time in earth’s history to practice being versus consuming. The very creative and manifesting force that we all contained in childhood is taken away from us, only to be repackaged and sold back as an experience or product.
Why is unstructured time so essential to a healthy life? Engagement in the world requires engagement of your nervous system. Stress hormones, such as adrenaline, work on negative feedback systems, which means that your body reaches deep and produces bio chemicals on demand. Any system that works on demand can break or grow overused and tired. The effects of constant “doing” without sufficient “not doing,” creates a society which does not contain time to reflect on the effects of doing and production. If we don't provide time to think about the effects of our collective actions, how do we know that our actions are even effective or meaningful? And how do we provide enough unstructured time to dream and imagine better and more unified ways of being as humans?
I must confess that I am a chronic over doer. I left home early and I have made my way in the world as a self employed doctor and healer. I found myself a few years ago, at the end of a great cycle. I had lived and manifested the dream that I had created in my early 20’s but I had no free time, no extra space, to tap in and dream up my next evolution. I was over scheduled, tired and stressed. I decided to do something radical, which literally means, I decided to return to my roots. I traded all of my fitness classes for either restorative yoga or mediation and kept blank holes in my schedule. I journaled about the ways I was being present in the now, versus acting out of anxiety and stress for the future and I connected deeply with the powerful 7 year old manifestor within. To my surprise, the essence of my being was not hard to access. The simple act of providing space and emptiness, allowed my next soul’s mission to shine through. I lost weight and remembered a deep happiness that I had forgotten that I contained. I also realized how somewhere along the way, I had associated “being” with anxiety and fear. Production and action felt safe and somehow doing protected me and kept me viable in the world. It was at this time that I realized how much of our value as humans we associate with our success and productivity. Without time to reflect, we repeat the same situations again and again. When we blindly trust a map, we sometimes cover unnecessary distance and forget to take in the environment along the way. The map is not the territory.
Originally published in The Fullest