THE BLOG

10 Ways to Swirl Your Brain

09/11/2015 11:22am ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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An Idle Mind Is the Devil's Workshop.

This proverb is from the "Handbook of Proverbs" by the famous British Publisher Henry George Bohn. I have experienced the effect of an idle mind first hand, and it is downright scary. During my pregnancy, I was advised bed rest due to certain health issues and a past miscarriage. My Ob/Gyn wanted me to take all possible precautions. Sitting idle and doing nothing was pretty nerve wracking.

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You might be under the weather or suffering from some sort of prolonged illness which has rendered you idle. You might be idle by choice, between jobs, handed the pink slip or well-provided for. Either way the end result is an idle brain ready to leap into undesirable directions feeding on our insecurity and doubt. Distraction, discord, depression, temptation, adultery, criminal tendencies -- all usually spawn from being too idle having no sensible purpose in life. It is astonishing how we do not think of life's blessings while we are idle. We never step back to thank God.

The joy of being involved in something (anything) is pretty rewarding. It keeps us grounded and focused. Maybe it can delay dementia or senility as we grow old. We all need something to keep ourselves busy; to remain young and vibrant. How do we keep ourselves busy?

  1. Do Puzzles -- There are many good online resources paid and free. Check Lumosity. Or pick up the day's newspaper. Try it online instead of staring at inane messages and FB updates on your smartphone. If you are adventurous then you might want to try one of those 500 or 1,000 pieces board ones. Just for kicks.

  • Learn a Language -- Wouldn't it be fun to try and learn a new language -- Mandarin? Or Swahili? There is also the option of Hindi or Sanskrit if you are into yoga.
  • Take Up a MOOC -- Sites like edX, Udacity and Coursera offer MOOCs (massive online open courses) on variety of subjects for people to learn at their own pace. I am currently pursuing a 2 months' course on English Grammar called Write101x from edX. The experience is amazing.
  • Sports -- A friend of mine took up curling after immigrating to Canada. She says it keeps her occupied in the frigid winter months.
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  • Familiarize with Folklore of a Culture -- We know a bit about the Greeks, Romans, Mayans and Incas. Have you ever tried to read about the Vikings and expand your knowledge? Try it. It is fascinating. I often spend a time just trying to master the pronunciation of the names like Myrkvyrdr.
  • Read Fiction -- Pick up a book, preferably fiction. Why do I say fiction book? Because it is light and easy on the brain. You don't really want to delve into Kafka to put your idle mind at work, do you? Science fiction is my favorite though many of you might enjoy a romance novel. Whatever sub-genre it might be at the least it will keep you busy and entertained.
  • Learn a New Cuisine -- Try to pick up some easy dishes, especially the ones that require less effort and are soothing to the palate. It is quite fun actually.
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  • Take Up a Cause -- I don't mean the ice bucket challenge for ALS awareness. Look around. There are scores of ways to help in this world. It need not be something elaborate but minuscule contribution of time (not money). We can sit with the old and frail and read out to them every now and then. Many elderly people might need a ride to the doctors for their periodic checkup. Find your cause. Make a difference. Go beyond yourself.
  • Create a Free Course Online -- With the Internet and platforms like YouTube, each one of us can share a skill with the world. Khan Academy has transformed delivery of education free of cost. If you know how to sew or sketch or scuba dive (any skill) -- you can put up your free training module online to educate others.
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  • Meditation -- It is the most calm and serene option to center the wandering mind and bring our life into perspective. You do not require a team, any gadget, special outfits or tools. You just need a corner of your house or room or even a park or sidewalk. You can meditate while walking. An undivided 10-minute session can be significantly productive. It will give you the time to think and realign. Try and enjoy the benefits of a refreshed and rejuvenated mind.
  • There are of course other options like learning an instrument, singing, dancing, painting and many more but they do not feature in my Top 10 list. What does your list look like?

    photo credit: tyramideFills via photopin (license)

    photo credit: IMG_2959 via photopin (license)