“. . . so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” – Genesis 2:2
According to legend the famed mathematician Archimedes (c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC) was relaxing in a bath when suddenly he had an epiphany about how to calculate density and volume, now referred to as “Archimedes’ Principle”. Startling his neighbors, so the story goes, he jumped out of his tub and ran naked through the streets shouting, “Eureka, I’ve got it! Eureka, I’ve got it!”
Have you ever experienced an epiphany in the middle of the night, or while doing mundane chores around the house, exercising, or taking a shower – times when your brain is in neutral? If so, you are in good company. So did Sir Isaac Newton, Descartes, Einstein, Tesla, and of course Archimedes. All received some of their greatest revelations while taking a break – or goofing off as we might say in our over stimulated workaholic culture. It is true, of course, that ah-ha moments are most likely to happen in a prepared mind, not a lazy one; for ideas do not occur in a vacuum. Yet, it is often not until we pause to rest that our brains are able to deliver their best performances.
“The truth is that this is how to raise the best ideas,” says Julia Cameron in her classic book The Artist’s Way, “Let them grow in dark and mystery. Let them form on the roof of our consciousness. Let them hit the page in droplets. Trusting this slow and seemingly random drip, we will be startled one day by the flash of ‘Oh! That’s it!’”
As we live in such an action-oriented world there seems little time to rest amidst all the things that must get done. Yet it was the Creator of the universe himself who “on the seventh day rested from all his work”. Should it come as a surprise that it would benefit us to do the same?
Few of us will ever experience such profound break-through moments as Archimedes. (Hopefully, few of us will startle our neighbors by running through the streets naked either!) But ideas, answers and solutions are lurking within us ready to emerge, if only we allow ourselves to rest so our brains can deliver their best performances.