Can You Do Nothing

Can You Do Nothing – Nothing?

A step toward conscious peace of mind

Busy, busy, busy.  That’s what I hear from most people I talk to.  Statistics Canada indicates that people are working more hours per week than ever.  Add in the demands of family, friends, and community, and the hours are over-spent.

I’m curious to know if this happens for you and how you handle it.

Most people give up things.  They give up hours of sleep, eliminate time for themselves, reduce physical activity, skip meals, miss family activities, and back out of community involvement. And then worry, guilt, and fear set in.  They “should” on themselves.

“I should get more sleep.”
“I should spend more time with my family.”
“I should get back into an exercise program.”
“I should have some time for just me.

All of this “shoulding” pollutes the brain.  It’s hard to be focused and productive with a quagmire of these bombarding thoughts. It’s stressful.

Stress happens when we don’t decide what to do.

So why not decide right now to give yourself at least a few minutes a day of clear, stress-free mind time – to do nothing, absolutely nothing?

This is easier said than done, my friend.  This means to refrain from: reading; writing; listening to music or the radio; watching TV; exercising; or any other activity.  It also means thinking about nothing.

Call it mediation if you like.  It’s a powerful method of becoming an observer of your thoughts, rather than becoming emotionally charged, and reacting to them.’

Practice these steps for 10 or 15 minutes a day and let me know how it goes for you.

  • Sit comfortably, relaxed, with a soft belly
  • Breathe in deeply and notice the feeling of your belly expanding and your chest rising
  • Exhale totally and notice the feeling of the air in your nostrils as your chest falls
  • Continue this, focusing your awareness on your breath
  • Focus your eyes on some non-moving object in front of you, and keep your focus there – thinking about nothing.

Unless you’ve practiced this many times, you’ll find your mind wandering to: a pain in your knee, a disagreement you just had, a work task, what you will eat for supper, sexual desires, and tons of other past and future thoughts.

In “The Wisdom Of Yoga,” Stephen Cope describes this as the mind being like a puppy in a field, running from tree to post, sniffing under a rock, romping after a bird, running continually to the point of exhaustion, but going nowhere in particular.  Through practice, we can tie the puppy to a post and learn to observe.  From there great peace and learning occurs.

I found this extremely frustrating – to notice all of my insignificant and unimportant past and future thoughts.  I was missing the peacefulness of now.  As I kept at it, the frustration changed to curiosity – an attitude of, “that’s interesting.”  And as I continue to practice, I’m finding it easier to focus on doing and thinking “nothing” in the moment.

I have greater clarity, awareness, appreciation, and creativity.  I experience less anger, frustration, fear, and guilt.  I like that trade and I now sleep well at night.  Hence, I have more energy for what I want to do in each moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in “Peace Is Every Step” said, “When we are in touch with the refreshing, peaceful, and healing elements within ourselves and around us, we learn how to cherish and protect these things and make them grow.  These elements of peace are available to us anytime.”

Are you thinking, “Great idea, Dan, but I don’t have time for that”?  Hmmm.  Either I communicated really poorly or you missed the point.  I suggest you read the article again.

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