Idleness: the art of inactivity.
Yet the practice of idleness is often not considered an art and is instead considered adverse. Our contemporary view of idleness has led society to strive for endless progression, leading us to the busy state in which we currently find ourselves.
And progression is a beautiful concept, providing us with self-fulfillment and societal advancement. Take a moment to consider the monumental place we are today: accessible international communication, opportunity for obtainable knowledge packaged tightly into our pockets and the unceasing ability to understand our world in which we live.
Progression has led us to unending information and potential for growth. And as we find information is readily available, we tend to find the need to stay well informed, constantly referring back to our handheld devices to gain awareness of opportunities that may propel our personal agendas in the proper direction: forward.
Yet in this practice, the beauty of idleness is often pushed to our periphery, with the desire to participate in the comfort of idleness only to be masked by the concern of falling behind.
Even more, as society continues to accept busyness as a norm, we tend to grow more uncomfortable with nothingness—with the idea of simply being. A simple glance on the train, in the office or at a restaurant displays this contemporary scene of faces buried in technology, searching for connection yet missing out on the physical opportunities in front of them. This desire—or even more, this need—to be doing something becomes our autopilot reaction of reaching for technological connection and information without realizing the larger effect this routine action has on our lives and our world. And as we collectively continue in this manner, the concept of idleness becomes socially constructed to be somewhat unattainable and undesirable.
But what if we viewed idleness in a new light? What if we attempted to reprogram our perspective and realize that this moment of “nothingness” can produce the living connections we need? That idleness is not the same as lethargy or indifference, but is instead an active choice of rejuvenation, refinement of our thoughts, rebalancing of our minds and reconnecting of our soul with body.
In this light, idleness is, quite honestly, a rare beauty.
Idleness, if used correctly, allows us to contemplate our day and to learn from our experiences. To become in touch with our senses once more. To revel in our humanness and to address our most basic need: rest.
And if you consider this concept, restful idleness truly isn’t idleness at all. We are stopping—becoming idle—in order to (re)think our motives and movements. Idleness is one of the most critical components to thoughtful living.
Psychological scientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang seems to agree that idleness leads to long-term progression. After reviewing studies and literature, Immordino-Yang found that the brain’s activity during restful stages correlated with socio-emotional functioning and growth, including our understanding of self-awareness and moral judgment.
As the study states, “mindful reflection…[is] also essential to our ability to make meaning of the world around us…. constructive internal reflection is critical for learning from past experiences and appreciating their value for future choices”
We have the opportunity to incorporate the habit of slow movement into our lives. This belief is at the core of (re)vision society. With more moments of stepping back and contemplating our lives, we can feel renewed to move forward with integrity and intention. Together, as one global universe, with each of us taking moments of idleness, perhaps we can see a shift in society—a shift towards relinquishing our senses and revisiting the concept of thoughtful consideration before immediate action.
Join us as we practice idle incognito—the (re)vision challenge to embrace moments of idleness in the midst of a busy day. Our studio is taking a small step towards altering our lives by practicing the art of idleness for one minute a day. Just one minute. We are excited to see how this simple change may affect our minds, perspectives and actions.
Share with us your form of idle practice and let’s continue the conversation of (re)thinking our habits.
Recommended Read: Auto-pilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing by Andrew Smart
Written by Kristin Agnes
Model: Erin Lock