How often do you give yourself time with no demands?

I recently learned about this phrase “time with no demands” from John Wineland, a men’s group facilitator, speaker, teacher and author. He does powerful work. John wrote about time with no demands in his book – From the Core. He writes about how this is one of four key things men need.

What I didn’t realize until hearing John’s perspective was exactly how important time with no demands was in my life. It’s been a part of my practice and journey to find inner peace. It’s also something I’ve been sharing with my family, friends and clients. In fact, I just co-led a men’s retreat where part of the focus was time with no demands. We took 8 men into the Colorado backcountry with an intent to disconnect from normal life. We embraced nature, self discovery and time with no demands. It was beautiful.

So what exactly is time with no demands?

It’s time with yourself where nothing is requested, asked or needed of you. It’s time where your mind shuts down and allows your nervous system to rest. No questions, tasks, ideas or any other competing thoughts for your attention.

This includes requests and demands you might put on yourself. You see, we’re really good at placing demands on ourselves. They come in the form of silent expectations and agreements. Things our ego mind will decide we should or need to do.

I bet you’re familiar with that voice:

  • “I should do this today.”
  • “I need to get that thing done…”
  • “What should I make for dinner?”
  • “Who do I need to respond to?”
  • etc.

The list of internal demands piles up quickly. It’s embedded in our human psychology to do this. We often let that voice dictate our life. And then we let external demands from others add to the pile. All the questions, requests and needs coming from other humans.

I bet you’re familiar with those as well:

  • “Can you do this for me?”
  • “I need you to do get this done.”
  • “What are you making for dinner?”
  • “Did you respond to that person yet?”
  • etc.

This creates a mountain of demands, which puts a massive amount of stress on our nervous system. That’s the problem. When we operate with tons of demands we operate under lots of stress.

If you’re a parent or leader you know exactly what I’m talking about. We take on demands all day long, and then we feel the pressure and stress as a result. However, most of you may not even realize how much stress you’re putting on your system. You may have just acclimated to it and assumed this is “normal life.” I see so many tired parents and leaders in the world. Their body language tells the story. It’s yearning for rest, peace and self love. Yet their mind has them tricked playing victim to a life with constant demands.

Well, I would argue that there’s a better way to live. It’s a life that gives you permission to take time with no demands.

So how do we take time with no demands?

It starts with prioritizing yourself. That means self care and practice of honoring time with yourself before prioritizing others. This includes your family, children, partner, team, etc.

Time with no demands is time with yourself.

You have to give yourself healthy permission to take this time. It’s time in your schedule where you’re alone and distraction free. No people, no phone, no agenda or desires. It’s time where you can let your system rest from demands.

For example, time with no demands can be taking a walk alone in nature. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the walk without distractions or internal demands. You will see the beauty and hear the sounds that nature creates, which helps you find your way back to that curious, creative, peaceful self. The stress will fade away and you will give your nervous system the gift of rest.

Time with no demands is NOT taking a hike with friends or family. That can create all kinds of demands. People needing water, wanting to know how much further, questioning the route, etc. Take it from someone [like me] who hikes with their family a lot! I love that time with my family, but it’s certainly not time with no demands.

Another form of time with no demands is immersing yourself in a solo sport or activity.

For example, taking time to golf alone. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the activity without competition or comparison from others. Enjoy the motions of swinging your club, watching the ball fly, and then walking the beautiful green to your next shot. Your focus on the act of play will take you back to that same curious, creative, peaceful self. It will allow your nervous system to rest.

A few other examples of time with no demands:

  1. Meditation or time in silence that has no desired outcome.
  2. Gardening, crafts, or other artistic work that allows you to create something as an expression of yourself.
  3. An intentional retreat where someone leads you through time and exercises alone. Note: I’m designing such retreats if this interests you 🙂

The key is spending time with yourself in a way that honors your natural need to be curious, creative and at peace.

We all need time with no demands

The final point I’ll make is that we all need time with no demands. It’s built into our operating system as living creatures. Look at every other species on the planet. Do you see them operating with a bunch of demands? Nope. You see them resting in nature while staying curious and surviving.

Humans are unique with our intellectual capacity. Basically, the strength we gain from our powerful minds is also our greatest weakness. Our minds are what generate all these demands and it starts at a young age. We’re taught to accept demands from school, sports, community and society at large. As we get older the habit sticks and we become adults that are accustomed to operating with lots of demands.

This creates a hyper competitive and stressful environment. We’re co-creating a world filled with demands. A world that replaces curiosity, creativity and peace with rules, systems and stress. A world with very little space to be our unique and beautiful selves.

I would argue that we all need more space. We all need more time with no demands.

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Ali Jafarian

Ali is a creator and coach who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a family man, entrepreneur, conscious technologist, explorer, podcast host and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.