There’s a zen saying, “don’t just do something, sit there” which messes with our conventional wisdom that there is something wrong with doing nothing. If you look around there aren’t too many people doing nothing. In fact in our multi-tasking obsessed world, everybody is busy doing something all the time.
It’s not just our bodies running from one task to the next. Our brains are constantly engaged in planning, analyzing and problem solving. We are simply not used to stopping and doing nothing. In fact when we do stop for a few minutes most of us experience a revolt from our inner committee. The chatter in our head increases reciting our never-ending to do list and perhaps messages we received long ago about the perils of idle hands.
Whatever it is that you think you need to do, you’re probably wrong.
The thing you need to do is nothing.
Think about that for a moment. What thoughts cross your mind?
It’s a waste of time.
It’s a luxury I don’t have time for.
Here’s a new thought to consider:
Doing nothing is a necessity.
Creating space in your day that allows you to stop, even for five minutes, gives your mind a rest. It also shows you just how busy your mind really is. You actually can hear the noise in your head.
When we stop we can also allow ourselves to settle back into our bodies. For much of our day we are talking heads, not paying attention to what is going on in our bodies. Doing nothing allows you to become aware of tension or fatigue or what your body actually needs in that moment.
Doing nothing is a state of being in which there is quite simply nothing to plan, no problem to solve, to task to complete, no outcome to be achieved. Sounds blissful, doesn’t it? In order to get there though, most of us need some practice. We’ve been busy for so long we have forgotten how to stop even for a few minutes.
So how do you do nothing?
Start with five minutes a day. Simply sit and breathe and do nothing. And just notice what’s going on in your head and your body.
Consider giving yourself a larger break in the week. The idea of doing nothing doesn’t mean you have to just sit still in a chair. Take a do nothing walk. Or have a do nothing cup of tea. Or listen to do nothing music. Don’t do anything else except bring your full attention to the present moment.
Once you get the hang of doing nothing, try a larger stretch of time. Have a do nothing weekend during which you allow the days to unfold without planning and scheduling. That very thought might elicit a “Yikes!” from your inner committee members but go ahead and tell them they too can do nothing for a bit. Go on a do nothing vacation. Leave the busy itinerary at home and move at a slower pace.
There’s no time like the present. Go on. Do nothing for the next two minutes.
Then come on back and post a comment about your do nothing experience.