I started noticing that when I sit down to meditate, I start to remember all kinds of things that had gotten pushed to the back of my brain. It's actually quite wild. The moment I close my eyes and set my attention to be on nothing but the breath, a floodgate is opened and I start to think about all the little obligations I missed during the day. In a weird way, I often find it to be some of my most productive moments. In the modern era, when we are constantly feeding our attention a new stimulus, just being silent and thinking actually opens up so much. I start to remember those pesky one-off obligations that slipped through the cracks; I start to think a bit more critically about my goals and how I'm tracking against them; I start to rerun interactions with friends and other people, making some useful understanding of the ways I felt; I bring some open thoughts to conclusion and I even make broad intentions about how I want to live. It's far from peaceful and it's almost never enough, but it's incredibly useful. I'm writing this right now as a result of a 15 minute meditation, in which I immediately remembered about wanting to do this today (I also thought of the idea in this meditation... so BAM —two-in-one.) Without that mediation moment, I likely would have cruised past this, listening to music or ironically watching yet another Youtube video on productivity.
For whatever reason, I think we're all ingrained to think that every second must be filled with stimuli these days. If you're not on your computer, you get on your phone. If you're not talking to someone, you watch a video. If you're walking your dog, jam in a podcast or music playlist. There is never a time to process, to have time to let the brain wander and make new connections. We are stuck thinking we must be entertained or productive.Yet simple silence is maybe more productive than most options we choose to fill time with. Our primitive ancestors (with whom we still share the same brain structure) surely spent the majority of their days in silent thought — or in waiting — without some additional stimulus. I think there is some beauty in that, too.