The Importance of Zoning Out

What if thoughtfulness is the new mindfulness?

Marianna Saver
Big Self

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When I ask friends or family to repeat what they just said to me, the reply is almost always: “Did you zone out again?” I usually like to answer that being zoned out is my natural state; I just zone back in once in a while.

Although I mean it as a joke, there is some truth in my line — one that hints at the possibility that inviting diverse thoughts in our mind instead of rejecting them in the name of presence can sometimes be good for us.

The first time I caught myself spacing out, I was in fourth grade. It was during an award ceremony of a local writing contest I won. That meant I had to stand on a stage in front of about 60 schoolmates while a lady read my story and a guy behind me would make a live drawing out of what she was reading.

Some children would have felt proud to be on that stage — but I was the farthest thing from those children. If I could have given an arm and not be there, I would have. So I started mind-wandering about being someplace else. Physically I was standing on that stage but mentally I was occupied with other tasks.

So where was I, really?

In a culture obsessed with efficiency, some may interpret my tendency to zone out as infantile thinking, a lazy habit, or a…

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Marianna Saver
Big Self

I write to understand what I don’t know. I also send monthly love notes: bit.ly/themorningair