by Ferris Jabr, Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/
This article was originally published by Scientific American.
Every now and then during the workweek - usually around three in the
afternoon - a familiar ache begins to saturate my forehead and pool in my
The glare of my computer screen appears to suddenly intensify.
My eyes trace the contour of the same sentence two or three times, yet I
fail to extract its meaning.
Even if I began the day undaunted, getting
through my ever growing list of stories to write and edit, e-mails to
send and respond to, and documents to read now seems as futile as
scaling a mountain that continuously thrusts new stone skyward.
so much more to do - so much work I genuinely enjoy - but my brain is
telling me to stop. It’s full. It needs some downtime.
Freelance writer and meditation teacher Michael Taft has experienced his own version of
cerebral congestion. “In a normal working day in modern America,
there’s a sense of so much coming at you at once, so much to process
that you just can’t deal with it all,” Taft says.
In 2011, while
finalizing plans to move from Los Angeles to San Francisco, he decided
to take an especially long recess from work and the usual frenzy of
After selling his home and packing all his belongings in storage,
he traveled to the small rural community of Barre, Mass., about 100
kilometers west of Boston, where every year people congregate for a
three-month-long “meditation marathon.”
Taft had been on similar
retreats before, but never one this long. For 92 days he lived at
Insight Meditation Society’s Forest Refuge facility, never speaking a
word to anyone else.
He spent most of his time meditating, practicing
yoga and walking through fields and along trails in surrounding farmland
and woods, where he encountered rafters of turkeys leaping from
branches, and once spotted an otter gamboling in a swamp.
mind seemed to sort through a backlog of unprocessed data and to empty
itself of accumulated concerns. “When you go on a long retreat like that
there’s a kind of base level of mental tension and busyness that
totally evaporates,” Taft says.
“I call that my ‘mind being not full.’ Currently, the speed of life doesn’t allow enough interstitial time for
things to just kind of settle down.”
To read further, go to: http://www.salon.com/2013/10/16/your_brain_needs_more_downtime_than_it_thinks_partner/