(A series of articles exploring alternatives to the daily barrage of information, images and thought-clutter that comes at us through our handheld devices. I have been experimenting with electronic-free venues in order to reclaim the real estate of my mind and inner life with pleasing results. This is Venue #3: The Nap.)
The nap is a wonderful place to reclaim a space of electronic-free margin in your life and re-energized your brain in the process…IF you are serious about it.
I have napped regularly for years; I used to take a book with me into my napping spot, but more recently and on a much more regular basis, I have defaulted into taking my phone. Why would I take my phone to nap? Well, I could play a game or lightly scroll through social media feeds while I “transitioned” from wakefulness to sleep. The problem was that the phone really didn’t bridge the gap between waking and sleeping.
It’s screen filled the time span, but when I put the phone down and closed my eyes, most often…although I knew I was tired and needed a reset…I found my brain activated and unable to easily turn off. I experimented with turning off the ringer, turning off the sound, dimming the backlight, turning off the Wi-Fi signal, setting a time limit for the transitioning period; these efforts didn’t help much to prepare me to rest.
For some reason, I found it really difficult to be separated from my phone during my rest time. So I had to intentionally leave it at the other end of the house. This didn’t just feel strange; I didn’t like it; I wanted to have my phone. I was in my “experimental” mode, so I chose against my “comfortable” self, and I very deliberately left my phone far from me, picked up a book to read and headed to the bedroom to rest. I was very pleased with the results. I have found that three things help me in designing an effective rest time: routine, recline and reading.
First of all, I have a napping routine: I arrange two pillows, one bed pillow and one squishy couch pillow on top of it, to prop my head and shoulders at just the right angle. Then I take my two matching decorator pillows, pile them one atop the other, to place under my knees when I lay down. I turn on the air purifier for a bit of white noise, click on the overhead ceiling fan for a bit of a breeze and grab a black sock that lives on my desk to cover my eyes when sleep begins to overtake me. I take off my shoes, though my feet may remain “socked” or “unsocked” according to the ambient temperature. I cradle in my arms a wonderfully soft and fuzzy blanket to adjust around myself for comfort and I’m ready to lay down. Well…almost ready. First I turn off the ringer on our home phone and if need be, lovingly crate our (sometimes barking) dog.
Second, I recline. Although my recline is very comfortable nowadays, it hasn’t always looked this comfy. At different times in my life – different exhaustions levels, different stresses, different responsibilities – I have taken my reclining time where I could get it, many times on the floor, carpeted or uncarpeted, pillowed or non-pillowed, quiet or noisy. That less-than-perfect rest and recline have served to refresh me.
Third, I read for several minutes as I quietly rest. My body naturally shifts into a doze; I bookmark my reading, settle the black sock over my eyes and nap. It’s very refreshing, although it usually lasts only 15-20 minutes. I wake and I can feel the difference this “reset” has made. I gently come into consciousness. Without a phone to grab (just to check), I come back into my day on my own terms, thinking my own thoughts and considering subjects of my own choosing. Without a phone at arm’s reach, the electronic barrage of news and images is not allowed to create a pathway for the wanderings of my imagination or the wonderings of my curiosities. I am free: rested, refreshed and free.