How to do nothing.
Your life depends upon it.
We are taught to do.
We are taught that to be idle is a sin.
We are taught that it is through hard work and tenacity that the spoils of life respond.
We are taught to win at all cost.
We are not taught to rest.
We are not taught to connect.
We are not taught to listen.
We are not taught to be.
Sit and do nothing. Just try it.
Hard isn’t it.
The mind races with a million ideas, tasks and fantasies when left to its own devices.
This is scary to many of us.
It doesn’t have to be.
In fact, through the cultivation of an ability to do nothing, we gain access to everything.
As it is with many life truths, this seems paradoxical.
And yet it is not. In fact, our lives and well-being are dependent upon our ability to do nothing.
Relaxing on a tropical beach is relaxing. It is not however necessarily restful.
Vacations are often wrought with to do lists longer than those we create while home are at work.
Coffee from a good local shop. Then breakfast from the place we found on Yelp. Then we will go to the aquarium for two hours before we need to be at the kayak rental place by 11am. Kayak excursion until 4. Then we will rush back to the hotel, shower and change quickly to make it to that cool little bar we read about. The one with live music. We will stay there until it is time to make our 7pm dinner reservations. We eat lavishly and perhaps drink too much alcohol. We are on vacation after all. Then it is to an after hours bar or perhaps back to the hotel where we collapse, only to awaken a few hours later to rush off to the airport to catch a flight home. Once home we are more exhausted than when we left. So much for rejuvenation.
This story resonates with me and most people I know who have gone on a vacation recently. What begins as a great idea to get away from it all becomes a stressor in and of itself.
The point is that relaxation and rest are not the same.
In order to experience the true healing elements of proper rest we must un-learn our hard-won tendencies to go, go, go.
We must cultivate and facilitate the ability to simply do nothing.
Let’s say I decide to sit in meditation for 20 minutes. While the benefits of meditation are endless, I would argue that in that moment I am actually doing something. I am thinking, I am strategizing, I am reciting a mantra. Something. Not, nothing.
Arriving home from work I am exhausted and burned out from the day at the office and I just want to crack open a beer or pour a glass of wine. I am doing something.
I flop onto the couch and flip on the television to see if there is anything new on Netflix. I know there is nothing new because I looked last night. I look anyway.
I simply refuse to do nothing.
And yet it is through doing nothing that we gain everything.
Learn to sit and be. Just sit.
No plan. No objective. No agenda.
Just sit and do nothing.
“To do nothing is the most difficult thing in the world, and the most intellectual”.