Entering the Threshold of Rest

by Joe Bunting | 25 comments

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Have you ever opened a tab in your browser, only to stare at the empty screen for minutes wondering why you opened it in the first place? Or gone into your email inbox to send a very important message, only to get distracted by a new message that just had to be read?

A recent study has found out this is actually caused by the way your brain handles “doors,” or thresholds. You can read the full article in Live Science Magazine, but what fascinated me most is what it said about memory, “[The study] suggested that doorways acted as mental blocks, impeding our ability to retrieve memories formed elsewhere.”

In other words, going through a threshold, whether the threshold is physical or electronic, causes your brain to go through a threshold of its own, a new compartment, you could say. The physical structure changes, and in a way, it actually becomes a new brain.

I think about this sometimes when people ask me why I turn off my computer for twenty-four hours once a week. They say something like, “Everything in moderation, right?” Or, “I only spend twenty minutes on it.” Or, “Isn't that a little extreme?”

Yes! I say.

It is extreme, and perhaps even ascetic in this digitally luxurious age. However, I know that if I open my computer, the brain that decided to spend only twenty-minutes on my email is no longer there. Instead, my everyday brain is back, ready to spend countless hours getting my email inbox to zero, checking blog stats, and playing silly Facebook games (not that I ever do that, of course).

To truly experience rest, I have to be extreme. I have to avoid certain doors altogether.

Instead, I enter a new door. The door is called Rest. And once I pass through its threshold I slowly become completely, nakedly myself. I am not how many emails I waded through. I am not my blog. I am not a writer. I am definitely not how many people viewed my last post. I am not even Joe Bunting.

Instead, I am the feeling of a deep inhale of air into my lungs. I am my shoulders that were tensed up from a week full of typing and are now loosening. I am the pink haze of the sun already set out my window, the winter trees stripped down and naked as my soul. I am only what I am.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. Nancy

    This was enlightening, Joe. For next week’s travel blog, I compare the high-tech Whister ski experience to the traditional and somewhat low key Austrian village experience. I have been wondering what called me to write the piece. This morning you have explained it to me.. Thanks.

    • Joe Bunting

      Nice. Send me a link when it’s up, Nancy.

  2. Peggy

    Rest – a word said softly. “REST” – whispered slowly with a sigh so deep that inhaling brings more oxygen to a weary soul who just got out of bed questioning, “What will the day bring?” The oxygen penetrating deep inside as the mind recalls, “This is the day the Lord has made let us – (me) – rejoice in it.”

    And yet, stress filled pores as I went to bed last night and some of those stresses promise to follow me all day. But today is a new day and that word brought to mind – “rejoice” is one that I shall embrace. I will embrace it because today is a day with a clean slate. It is a day when God promises to be present. Even though I am alone I am never really alone. Even though I may go through a whole day with stress within and beyond I will take authority over my life and continue to breathe deeply – inhale determining to rejoice. I will look expectantly to a day filled with God provided opportunities and responsibilities. I will rest in the fact that He understands my concerns and has answers. I will rejoice with expectancy that this day is a day that He is to control.

    So I, too, will turn off this computer and rest.


    • Joe Bunting

      Beautiful, Peggy. Thank you for this. I particularly liked this, “But today is a new day and that word brought to mind – “rejoice” is one that I shall embrace.”

  3. Patricia Troyer

    Love this one especially. Scientific American also reported on the doorway/memory thing, and I remember a talk given by a feng shui master once who demonstrated how doorways can drain your energy. Curious stuff, Horatio. Thanks for the post.

    • Joe Bunting

      Who’s Horatio?

      Fen shui. Interesting connection. I wouldn’t have thought of that. Nice.

  4. louise Behiel

    interesting information. i’m off to check Live Science Magazine

    • Joe Bunting

      Hope it was enlightening Louise.

  5. PJ Reece

    Chucking the TV wasn’t hard at all. Cancelling my landline was easy. Moving out of the city was not a problem. But not turning on my computer one day a week… Ouch! Which only means I should do it, do it. Thanks, Joe.

    • Joe Bunting

      I know. Our computers have become so possessive of us, haven’t they. Time to get some freedom from them.

  6. Jeangogolin

    Good post, Joe. I read the Scientific American report on the phenomenon too, and was relieved to find it wasn’t just me and encroaching old age. I love the idea of applying it purposefully.

    • Joe Bunting

      Fascinating, isn’t it. I love how they applied it to the internet.

  7. Katya

    I gotta say, I admire your resolve to have your computer off for 24 hrs a week. It’s extreme and it’s brilliant!

    So just out of curiosity.. Does your no-internet day change from week to week or is it always on the same day?

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Katya. It stays the same, Saturday night to Sunday night.

  8. Jim Woods

    Umm..wow..can’t read this whole post. I have a post that is 90% done on a very similar topic.

    • Joe Bunting

      Nice. I’m excited to read it!

  9. JaneR

    I used to unplug frequently, but with a new site that needs attention (it seems 24/7) I kinda failed at that this year. I keep hoping that sometime in February I’ll be able to reclaim that uplugged day, but so far I keep telling myself “Few more words, let’s finish this post first”.

    • Joe Bunting

      I hear you, Jane. For me, it’s 24/6, and as soon as my rest day is done, I have to get back into email pretty quick or it gets out of control. But slowly, I’m corralling my work into normal hours.

  10. Rachelle Eaton

    Wow, that’s really an interesting scientific perspective on rest (I posted it on facebook #irony).

    So excited to have found this blog (followed your name on a comment left on TS Poetry’s page about their Twitter parties). I want to get serious about writing and this looks like a great resource.

    Do you mind if I occasionally use your ideas or activities for the HS creative writing class I teach?

    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Rachelle. So glad you’re here. Yes, please do share it with your students! As long as you mention the site, helping young writers learn the craft is a dream come true for me.

  11. August McLaughlin

    Fantastic insight, Joe. Off to read the magazine article. Thanks!

  12. Ev

    Interesting theory; I’ve definitely had more than one moment of totally blanking on what my next planned task was going to be, after crossing a “threshold,” whether physical or digital.

    I really like your schedule of turning off your computer one day a week. I thought that by joining the Peace Corps, I would be forced, by circumstance, to be on my own computer less. But I am in Armenia, a developing country, where I have Internet access and electricity almost all the time. So if I want the rest and relaxation that comes with no digital stimuli, I have to self-impose the “no computer” rule myself. I see the potential benefits. Can I do it? I’m willing to give it a try; thanks for the inspiration!

    • Joe Bunting

      Hi Ev. I know what you mean. I spent a year traveling with a big group of people. I thought it would be a year of living like a kid, no computer, roaming around like a vagabond, the world my playground. But everywhere there was electricity, even the jungles of Thailand and the middle of Kenya, and we spent way too much time watching movies on our computers. You have to learn to say no to technology, no matter where you are.

  13. Emily Cook

    almost like… a Sabbath 🙂  
    Great post.

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Emily. Yes, exactly like a Sabbath 🙂


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