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When was the last time you found yourself doing nothing? I’m not talking about watching TV, listening to music or scrolling on your phone. I mean really doing nothing!
In the busy lives we create for ourselves, we usually consider the time we spend ‘relaxing’ as doing nothing. However, more often than not, our relaxation activities often lead us to be doing something.
Having practiced the art of mediation for many years, I really thought I had a clear concept of what it really meant to do nothing. I’ve tried all manner of practices. From deep breath work, repeating affirmations, guided meditations and listening to soothing music. You name it – I’ve tried it. For the most part, I considered my efforts effective in calming my mind and helping me relax. But I was missing a key concept.
You see, I spent most of my meditation time trying to ‘clear my mind’ and chase away thoughts – especially negative ones. In reality I was not meditating at all. It was just a constant struggle of bringing my straying thoughts back to focusing on my breathing, whilst clearing my head and trying to ignore the itch on my right arm!
None of my methods gave me the permission to free myself from lingering mindset blocks and embrace all parts of my being – including my dark side! That was until I discovered The Art of Doing Nothing.
It’s taken nearly my whole lifetime to realise the actual purpose of meditation was to become comfortable doing nothing. I just had to close my eyes, listen, acknowledge and accept.
Now, before your story about not being able to medicate comes up – give me five more minutes of your time!
The Art of Doing Nothing is not asking you to clear your mind, chant some mystic mantra and try not to think about anything else. Let’s be honest, unless you’re a Buddhist Monk, the possibility of ‘not thinking of something’ is virtually impossible. With all the questions we constantly asks ourselves throughout the day, how on earth can anyone completely turn that inner voice off?
But that’s the great thing about the Art of Doing Nothing. Your mind has permission to do, ask and question what ever it wants – with no judgement or expectation.
All you have to do is sit (or lay) for a period of time, listen, acknowledge and accept whatever comes up in your mind. And let me tell you – things will come up! Random things! Each thought, emotion or question zipping in and out of your mind without your consent, may make you laugh, cry, get angry, feel ashamed, bring you joy, get you excited or make you happy.
But that’s the beauty of the practice.
In my recent newsletter I talked about finally being able to dance in my imperfections. Accepting both sides of myself – the light and the darkness. I learnt this by practicing the Art of Doing Nothing!
The majority of the darkness you feel comes from the things and feelings you resist exploring. You may not even know you’re holding on to things in your past. Or even recognise the things that trigger certain behaviours in your day to life, comes from subconscious experiences you’ve buried deep inside, in order to protect yourself.
When you sit and do nothing, everything rises to the surface – the dark and the light. The only thing you have to so is stay sitting and let it come up. Allow it to be there.
Don’t try and fix it, don’t try and figure it out, don’t try to chase it away. All of it is allowed to be there and you have to give it permission to be seen.
Your only challenge with this form of meditation is not to get up and run from it! You are bigger than anything that has ever hurt you. The beliefs about any dis-empowered stories you have will only continues if you run from it. Stay seated and let both the mental and physical energy be seen and acknowledged.
Your mind-body connection is such a complicated relationship. In no time at all your mind can accelerate your heart rate, make sweat pour from under your arms, cause butterflies in your stomach or cause you to form a big smile on your face.
Depending on what your mind brings up, meditating using the Art of Doing Nothing, is no different. Throughout the time you spend sitting with your eyes closed, your physical body will experience a roller coaster of sensations. From opening up and relaxing, to physical tightness blocks in your throat, chest, stomach or back.
A lot of the time, our instinct is to run from our own darkness. The main function of the brain is to protect itself and the body will show us warnings when it thinks the mind is under attack. Connect to all of it. I’ve cried, laughed, grieved and felt physically free all in one session! But it’s all such a feeling of relief and clarity at the end.
When you practice The Art of Doing Nothing, the old stories of your identity begin to be experienced in a different way. You will no longer have anything to prove, anything to protect, anything to hide or anything to defend.
Answer me honestly – has The Art of Not Doing Nothing scared you or intrigued you? (Let me know in the comments below).
When I first came across this type of meditation practice I was sceptical. I want to feel good – why would I take steps towards something that will bring up things I want to avoid?
But the truth is, I’ve learned so much more about myself by just sitting and really paying attention to my eternal chatter. Practicing mediation this way frees you from expectations of ‘how’ to mediate. Once you are not focused on the outcome – you have the space to listen.
So give it a try! Just start with a short practice, siting or lying in what ever position makes you comfortable. Put a 10 minute timer on you phone and close your eyes.
What ever thought comes into your mind, acknowledge it. Try not to ask yourself any questions about the thought. Just give it permission to be there and let it be seen. By doing this, you’ll be amazed how fast, once it feels seen it just disappears and another thought pops into your mind.
One of the things I would recommend is having a note pad by your side. Within these moments of connecting with yourself, you will start to develop a connection to all energy sources – this is where inspiration lies! I can guarantee at the end of your practice you will want to write down any revelations or ideas that you gave space to be created during the practice.
Let me know in the comments below how you got on.