Yeah, you read that right - do nothing. It's not easy is it? What happens when we just sit quietly? Thoughts; I should be doing this or that, glimpses at past events and conversations, daydreaming about happy events, guilt for not doing something, anything - the list is endless. It's almost harder to sit still than it is to keep on doing. Isn't it?
However, by spending time doing nothing; resting, following the breath, noticing thoughts and emotions as they rise and fall, we allow our minds to rest. It's so easy to get caught up in busyness and not make time for ourselves to just 'be'. It feels satisfying to delete all of the emails, hang the washing out, and squeeze that extra meeting in? My meditation teacher Suryacitta talks often about how busyness is the height of laziness. By never sitting with ourselves and just observing our thoughts and emotions we are not allowing ourselves to grow and our insight to deepen. We will remain in busy mode, without a greater perception and a sense of more ease in our lives.
I still find it hard to fight the urge to be busy, but since making time for meditation and just sitting I can definitely say I am happier and more productive during periods when I need to be busy.
How can you do nothing better?
• Set aside time to do nothing, and I mean nothing. Put it in your diary, just like all of the other events.
• Stop feeling guilty - easier said than done? We have a natural disposition to think that being busy is better and makes us better people. Allow that belief to go, and remind yourself that after periods of rest you will be more energised, develop more clarity and feel much more grounded.
• Start off the period of nothing by reading a poem or a book on mindfulness, this will help you to set the tone and remind you why this is good for you.
• Notice how your stress reduces, heart rate falls and emotions change when you are regularly 'just sitting'.
• Set a timer. When you decide to sit or meditate set a timer, even 10 minutes is a brilliant start.
• Talk to others who meditate and practice mindfulness, don't isolate yourself when developing your practice, get to know any local groups or friends who practice.
• Get a regular place to sit. Whether that's at work or home, find somewhere that you can start to associate with sitting and resting.
• Don't go to sleep. When you want to sit and engage with awareness or breathing you want to maintain a level of consciousness to allow shifts in the mind and body.
• Allow yourself to focus on sensations in the body. Each time you find your mind wandering and suggesting that you think about things or do some work, notice the thoughts and then come back to sensations in the body. Give your mind a rest.
• Be proud that you are taking time to develop yourself, to give your busy mind a rest.