Let's be honest with ourselves. Most of us structure our lives in such a way that constant movement, attention to a task (usually multiple tasks) and productivity are required at every twist and turn of the day. It should therefore come as no surprise that by the time our heads hit our pillows, they are racing with a jumbled mess of thoughts that seem more distracting than inspiring.
And as you know, often those thoughts refuse to wait until the day is done to affect your mental clarity. Chronic stress and busyness demand that our minds move at warp speed continuously, despite that in order to think our best thoughts, we need to simply sit back, relax, and be in the moment. In a relaxed state, the brain naturally moves freely from one thought to another and makes insightful connections that we usually don't consciously realize.
In need of a space that will let your mind wander today? Give one of these 13 thought-provoking locations a try and see what happens.
In the shower.
The rumors are true -- some of our best ideas do come to us in the shower. The warm water not only helps increase dopamine flow to the brain, but also physically relaxes the body, thus allowing your inner thoughts to take center stage.
On public transportation.
Whether you're sliding in and out of subway cars, feeling the sway of a commuter train or gazing out of an airplane window, public transportation can help literally and figuratively take your mind to new places. Having a sense of direction with your short-term traveling goal often affects the flow of your thoughts and inspires a fresh perspective. Not to mention sharing space with strangers who (usually) leave you in peace also creates the type of static-noise distraction that actually helps you process information.
At the movie theater.
With dim lighting, comfy seats, guilty-pleasure snacks and hopefully an engaging plot line, the movie theater can be one of the best places to explore your own mind. It's relaxation-inducing ambience makes sitting back and taking that deep breath seem far easier, if not like second nature.
In a café.
From mouthwatering aromas to some of the most entertaining people-watching opportunities, cafés create a unique combination of relaxation and subtle distraction. Settle into that cushioned armchair in the corner, sip a cappucino and let life simply happen around you. You might be surprised by the clarity and inspiration you feel by the time you step out onto the sidewalk again.
In the woods.
If you tend to be sensitive to even subtle, ambient noise, remove yourself from it entirely. Wandering through a wooded space alone will not only give your mind the peace and solitude it's craving, but also help you reconnect with Mother Nature in a way you likely haven't experienced in quite some time. The extra fresh air couldn't hurt, either.
By the seaside.
Not feeling the green space? Go blue. Sift sand with your fingers, pick sea shells during low tide, or simply sit on a dune and appreciate one of the most beautiful views nature has to offer. The crashing waves and squawking birds will leave you alone to think without making you feel entirely alone.
Up on a rooftop.
Take in the world with a bird's eye view. Changing your perspective -- not to mention transcending the stressful, street-level noise and distractions -- can often help you see that the clarity you were seeking wasn't so far away at all.
On a running path.
For those of us who find monotonous movement to be one of the most helpful tools in sorting though stress, life questions and big decisions, a running path can be your best friend. Leave the noisy, stifling gym behind for a natural scene that lets your mind wander as your feet set the course. Just make sure you leave your GPS and headphones at home.
On your couch.
Sometimes what we really need to help us relax are the comforts of home. There is something to be said about spending quiet time in a space you recognize as your own. After a long day at the office, settle down on the couch sans television to let your thoughts sort themselves out naturally. Even five minutes will make all the difference.
At the supermarket.
This routine activity can serve as a way to reset your mind when you need it most. Wandering the aisles does require focus (cue the speech on the importance of mindful eating) but not so much that your other thoughts won't have room to move. Find the endless choices of supermarkets too stimulating? Opt for a specialty food shop or farmer's market instead.
In a quiet nook in your office.
While an overstimulating work environment is often the root cause of our stress and distraction, many offices are integrating new designs that include semi-private, relaxing spaces for employees to use when they need a little time away from their desks. These hidden gems not only help introverts, who make up anywhere from one third to one of half of all workers, but also offer extroverts a little bit of quiet time they likely need.
At a library.
What better way to organize your thoughts than to spend time with the greatest thinkers in history? Whether you prefer to roam the stacks or escape into one of your all-time favorite works, let your mind take control as you sit in this beautifully creative space. A good whiff of that old paper smell is bound to help, too.
In the yoga studio.
Mindful exercise like yoga will work your body and mind in equally important ways. As you let your body flow from one pose to another, lengthening and strengthening and working through residual stress, encourage your thoughts to do the same. By the time your eyes open at the end of your savasana, you won't have a single thought in your mind, and all of that space will be relaxed and ready to absorb your next moment of brilliance when it arises.