So many of us want nothing more than to slow down and relax. But, what often happens when people are left alone with nothing to do is a bit shocking.
Eleven scientific studies found a significant number of people would rather be electrically shocked than left alone with their thoughts... Wow.
In the study, participants were exposed to a small electrical shock they described as slightly painful. Many said they’d pay money to avoid being shocked again. But when left alone in the lab room for only 15 minutes (still hooked up to the shock machine), 67% of men and 25% of women decided to push the button that administered another shock!
As surprised as I was?!
Perplexed, even, but then it dawned on me; having nothing to do is so unusual in our culture that the slowing down we so desperately crave can actually be pretty uncomfortable.
When distractions are not readily available we have to be with our thoughts and feelings. And apparently, an electrical shock is perceived as the lesser of the two discomforts.
Rather than a voltaic jolt, it might be certain activities like mindless scrolling, comfort eating, compulsive shopping, or overworking that leave you more depleted than rejuvenated.
If zapped isn't how you want to feel after a block of free-time, try pranayama.
Artwork by @enorasis_art_prints
Focusing on the breath gives your mind a job to do. After a short time, mindful breathing will help you settle into the present moment so you can be with yourself, exactly as you are.
Dirgha (three-part breath) is my go-to because It's a foundational pranayama that calms the mind, soothes the nervous system and bolsters the lungs.
In the video below, you'll find tips on how to bring more awareness to each section of your lungs with common yoga props. Then you can take this practice and use it anywhere, even a scientists lab room!
Yoga 15 Minutes