What do you do in the gap?
I'm talking about those moments when you're waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting in a doctor's office or waiting for a perpetually late friend to meet you for lunch?
I can guess. You pick up your phone and scroll through your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed for the 14th time that day. Right? No judgment. I'm as guilty as the next person.
Author, motivational speaker and former pastor Rob Bell recently talked about this on his podcast "The RobCast," in an episode titled "The Importance of Boredom."
"When we get that gap, that split second, that lull, that space, we now have this machine in our pocket or purse that we can pull out, and it connects us with a thousand different things to fill in all those little gaps that we have throughout the day," Bell said. "It's great that we have news and photos of our friends' puppies and things we need for the house you can buy with one click. But I also think it's doing something really destructive."
We each experience all manner of events, he said, including financial stress, physical or emotional trauma and great joy and accomplishment. The body needs to process all of it. But when we don't give it the time and space to do so, the stress of whatever it was, even if it was a joyful thing, can manifest in the body, sometimes negatively.
By putting down the phone or iPad or whatever technology you rely on and are, let's face it, addicted to, you can create space for that stuff to rise to the surface. But that won't happen if you keep yourself busy every second of the day, absorbing more and more unnecessary stimuli.
"The problem spiritually is those spaces of boredom are the spaces where we deal with the stuff going on inside of you," Bell said. "The problem is all those spaces, when we're not staring at the screen, are opportunities to explore the vast interior that is called the soul. We have more ways to connect than ever, and we are less connected with ourselves than ever."
We all know we spend too much time looking at our phones and social media. It's always good to get a reminder, though, and a solid reason to lessen our grip on technology.
After listening to Bell's podcast, I thought about another way to fill those gaps. How about a little yoga? Here are a few ideas:
- Pranayama (breathwork): It's an easy way to slow down and reconnect with your entire self. Try ujjayi breath by breathing in and out through your nose. It helps soothe your brain and strengthen focus and concentration. To do: Exhale through your open mouth like you were trying to fog up a mirror. Now close your mouth and create the same exhale. You should feel the breath emanating from the back of your mouth.
- Meditation: It doesn't have to be fancy. Lately, I like to sit with closed eyes and simply listen to the sounds around me. If thoughts come up, and they will, disentangle from them and refocus on the voice of the natural world.
- Forward fold: Find yourself a quiet spot and fold forward at your hips. Let your arms dangle toward the earth or let your hands grab your opposite biceps. Make sure your neck is relaxed and your knees are soft. Stay static in your fold or sway gently from side to side. Add a side body stretch by placing some sort of prop, such as your purse or water bottle, on the ground in front of your feet. Set your left hand on it and twist your right arm to the sky. Repeat on the other side.