A lesson in patience. A lesson in being.
Doing nothing is difficult. When our schedules are free, when there’s nothing to do, we always find something to dally with. Write that friend we miss, look at a funny video, read a good book, make weekend plans, sleep. All of which are not really nothing.
Nine Summers ago I was chilling on the coast of Portugal with a surfboard, and reading “Opening the Door of Your Heart” by Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm. When the quote “when there’s nothing to do, then do nothing” came up I stopped, reflected on it, and thought I had nailed it. Thumbs up.
It took me some more years to realize that no, I hadn’t. I was on the couch, reading a book and thinking, between surf lessons. That wasn’t nothing.
My practice of nothing came only a couple of years after, when I started practicing it as a way to recharge after depletion. I’d take it easy and slow down by sitting on a chair or lying outside on the grass, without sleeping and without doing anything.
Doing nothing has become a precious practice. A personal sanctuary.
The thing is, doing nothing opens space within. It allows what has been stuck, itching, and unheard, to show itself and make itself heard.
Doing nothing could be seen as a lesson in self-mastery for we don’t act on impulses to go do something (or fall asleep). It requires presence, self-awareness, and discernment.
Doing nothing is a lesson in allowing and releasing control of the mind. Giving permission for something else to come into the picture, in its own time, without expectations.
The key to doing nothing is to calm the mind.
Overthinking is certainly not nothing. And that is what makes it so hard. The mind tells us to do stuff and keep ourselves distracted all the time.
Has anyone ever called you impatient? It is the mind that wants to exert control, that is impatient, and does not like to allow other things to come up. Go write that friend, fix some food, or read that book. Get anxious and think constantly about your miseries and desires, and so you keep hostage.
In other words, the mind is saying: whatever you do, do not allow other things to come in and threaten my control over you.
Allow Impermanence In
The most foundational thing about life is that it is always changing. We all know that, but still, we get frustrated when the change gets us uncomfortable.
We know things will change again, and yet we struggle to allow changes that we don’t want and cannot control. We struggle to allow things to be bigger than we can comprehend. This struggle is again the struggle of the mind that wants control, and in its struggle to control, we disconnect.
Sometimes, there is nothing to do. We are not to push our way on life, but to co-create with it. See what comes up. Lack of patience, busyness, and distractions are all control issues. We want to shut down what is inconvenient, painful, and does not go our way.
To release control, to receive, to surrender is to allow.
Patience is about allowing something else to play a role in a different way than what our mind would want. To stay open and receive what comes our way, insights, and messages from within and without. Let them come and act from there, as a part of a whole.
When we don’t respect this, we create frustrations. Ultimately, by pushing our way through so much, by not allowing, we disconnect.
It’s crazy to think that almost five years ago I quit my safe job, wanting to do something big, and here I am, still working on it. My mind wants to create, create, create. And yet, the ultimate lesson has always been patience. Stop with the endless ambition, with showing results, and allow things to come through.
It is in the moments that I surrender to doing nothing that I allow a big picture to be seen, and learn the lessons I am supposed to learn. Aa I allow life to push my buttons, I get to see what is cooking.
When doing nothing, I can still feel I am alive. The crazy amount of life vibrating in my body, pleasure circulating within no matter what. There is only life. Life that wants to live, life that wants to grow and multiply and couldn’t care less about external metrics. Do we allow ourselves to be vehicles to this much bigger force that lives inside of us?
Willingness to live, it’s that simple. And as long as that life is there, it is all good. The issue is when we lose that connection, when we can’t connect to this party inside our beings. That is when the ego has taken so much control over the soul that we become our own oppressors.
Doing nothing is a great exercise to reconnect to the intrinsic life in our beings that vibrates relentlessly within each one of us.
Reconnect & Recharge
8 weeks to let go of tiredness, confusion, and lack of reconnection. 8 weeks to return to yourself.