Solitude & Self-Awareness Spiral

The Art of Doing Nothing

Days away from summer vacation and I dream of doing nothing. Soon I’ll be able to do nothing every day. Nothing has become an important part of my busy life. I started this practice a couple years ago. I sit in my most relaxing chair, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on nothing. During the school year, I can only do this on the weekend. I try to carve out 1-3 hours a weekend for this “do nothing” practice.

Sometimes I fall asleep and the naps that come from doing nothing are the best kind. When I wake up I notice the quiet, the peaceful rest of my body, then I close my eyes and pick up where I left off. Do nothing.

I’m not alone in this thinking. A quick Google search turned up lots of articles on the subject of doing nothing.

The quiet stillness allows my mind to unwind. I’m not thinking about anything in particular but there is a sensation of knots untangling, tension reducing. I know I am done when ideas flow–slowly and clearly. The creativity born in stillness is the purest, most trusted kind. Solutions to complex problems arise. I begin to crave writing time and I’ll reach for a notebook in a dreamy state. Usually I hold onto the feeling as long as I can. The inner stillness comforts and offers a contrast to my busy work.

I’ve learned that to live a creative life I need to prioritize stillness and quiet. It has become part of my creative process. I’m sure that this is a lot like meditation but since I’ve had no formal training in meditation I feel reluctant to call it that. In the last three years, I’ve worked from sitting in stillness for 20 minutes at a time to being able to relish in the peacefulness for over two hours. When I take time to do nothing, I get more done.

Over the last year I’ve been more interested in binge watching the tree out my front window than binge watching Netflix. Doing nothing gives me a simple way to bring balance into my life.

A few years ago we had a particularly challenging school year. I learned that peace is not what is happening around you, it’s what’s happening within you. If I can tend to my inner garden and find peace there, then I can do anything. So, doing nothing leads to doing anything.

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to be still?

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