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Problem Solving - 'doing nothing' helps

How many times have you wrestled with a seemingly insurmountable problem, only for the solution to miraculously appear when you least expect it?

Solution Swoops In

Time and again I have heard yoga students and teachers tell how during Relaxation, when they are ostensibly thinking about ‘nothing’, they find that resolution to a problem appearing, seemingly out of nowhere. Or how, after a period of Meditation, an idea swoops in and takes them by surprise.

Doing Nothing is Doing Something

In the world of Yoga, we all know the power of ‘doing nothing’ – having a period of reflection and quietude after our Yoga practice. And recent research has confirmed that our instincts are correct.

Research into Problem Solving

A group of researchers from the Memory Lab in the Department of Psychology at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh have studied the phenomenon of ‘awake quiescence’ (waking rest) and concluded that our problem resolution capabilities are significantly enhanced by a period of quiet rest.

Development of Insight

Michael Craig PhD, experienced in areas such as Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology and Human Biosciences, led a research team looking at our problem-solving abilities and how they can be enhanced by ‘awake quiescence’*.

Awake Quiescence

The results were significant. Young adults were ‘more than twice as likely to demonstrate new explicit knowledge of a hidden solution…..if initial exposure to the task was followed by 10 minutes of awake quiescence’ (compared to young adults who were given an unrelated task to do during the same 10 minutes).

Meditation to Enhance Mind State

Within Dru Yoga there is a guided Meditation practice that specifically utilises this concept to bring about a state of consciousness likely to generate a similar outcome. When this guided Meditation is followed by Savasana (Relaxation), it opens up the practitioner to the possibilities of problem resolution in a similar manner to that described by Craig.

Open Your Heart

You may like to experiment with this concept in your own Yoga practice, allowing a quiet time after physical practice within which to assimilate the movement and sensations. Within this quiet time, answers to questions, or solutions to problems, may arise spontaneously without conscious effort on your part. This is all part of the joy of a long-term Yoga practice. Taking the time to really listen to your heart.



Founder of DRUVA Yoga & Wellbeing

*Craig, M, Ottaway, G & Dewar, TM 2018, 'Rest on it: Awake quiescence facilities insight', Cortex, vol. 109, pp. 205-214.

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