The gift of a blank brain

Author Michael Harris on living in the Internet age and the prevalent tendency to check your phone as soon as you wake up:

“When you wake up, you have this gift of a blank brain. You could fill it with anything. But for most of us, we have this kind of panic. Instead of wondering what should I do, we wonder what did I miss. It’s almost like our unconsciousness is a kind of failure and we can’t believe we’ve been offline for eight hours,” he says. It is habits like this that are insidious, not the internet itself. It is a personal thing.

This is not exclusive to the Internet era. Many of us used to wake up and immediately trudge to the front door to retrieve the daily newspaper to start our day.

But it’s exponentially easier to distract ourselves now, and content is infinite. The newspaper only took so long to thumb through.

I typically do a quick scan of a handful of apps when I wake up. A morning routine devoid of external inputs, though, at least in those first minutes of consciousness, could build some space for my brain to embrace a bit of blankness, to allow possibilities to percolate that would otherwise be swamped by those external inputs.

Those days where I make time for even ten minutes of meditation first thing in the morning are marked by a calmer, more solid beginning.

Embrace the gift of a blank brain more often. Sit with the quiet. Be patient. Listen, not to the noise piped in from the connected world, but to your own inner voice or just to your breath.