The Art of Nothing

The act of 'doing nothing' seems to have defined itself as just doing something unproductive but can we actually do nothing?

When was the last time you did nothing?

Nothing is no thing, denoting the absence of something. Nothing is a pronoun associated with nothingness. In nontechnical uses, nothing denotes things lacking importance, interest, value, relevance, or significance. Nothingness is the state of being nothing, the state of nonexistence of anything, or the property of having nothing.

"What are you doing this weekend?" one bushy-eyed worker says to another, while avoiding work at the coffee machine, "Ah, I'm just going to go home and do nothing" replies the shaggy haired, rather dark eyed colleague.

Nothing? Well, that is simply not true.

"What are you up to?" my mother texts me, while she is sunning herself on the other side of the world, "I'm sat on the floor thinking about how much havoc a giant, flying giraffe would cause." I reply. Now that's a more accurate answer.

The act of 'doing nothing' seems to have defined itself as just doing something unproductive but can we actually do nothing?

No, I don't believe we can ever do nothing. Even when we are sat being unproductive, quiet and still, in a somewhat mindless state, we still find ourselves reflecting and thinking, flicking through our pages of our pasts, however insignificant.

Even when we're sat listening to music, we're processing. When we're sat reading a book, we're processing. When we're watching Eastenders, we are processing. When our boss is talking to us, we are processing something, right? Our brain considers these activities and then acts accordingly. Is sleeping, doing nothing? Probably not, as our brain is still functioning in someway, and we still dream.

I actually can't think of anything more blissful than being left to roam around your own head. Blissful and beautiful. My head is like a work of art, it's a head full of memories, stories, truth and mistakes - reflection can be a wonderful thing.

The art of reflection is not to correct mistakes, or even think, but, instead, to realise our present.

Watching a TED talk, Andy Puddicombe argues for ten mindful minutes saying that we spend half of our lives lost in thought. It is him, that poses the question when was the last time you did nothing? As an argument for meditation and the constant care of our wandering minds.

What is life now but a Twitter account, a Facebook profile, a text message, an e-mail, our work and a coffee three times a day?

Puddicombe says, "We are so distracted that we are longer present in the world in which we live."

Though I don't believe we can't ever do nothing the care of our minds is of vital importance to our welfare as people. We care more about our outer aesthetic than our inner being. That is why we find ourselves sweating at the gym, styling our heavy bouffants and buying red trousers to keep up with trends.

Our inner peace is far more stunning.

I'm a writer and when I'm stuck or have writer's block, which is fairly often, it causes me immediate stress and makes me enormously anxious so I need to just go and clear my head. I'm not a how-to person but this is how I switch off for ten minutes every day and, sort-of, do nothing:

1. Schedule some 'do-nothing' into your day; just ten minutes.

2. Find a place to do nothing, it has to be quiet and with no one around; may I suggest the stationary cupboard?

3. Set an alarm so that you are not thinking about time, though inevitably you will either wonder how long you've been in the stationary cupboard or wonder how much time you have left to spend - but remember you're doing nothing.

4. Disconnect; turn everything off, EVERYTHING (Unless your alarm is on your phone, then turn it to silent and put it face down on the floor and DO NOT touch it).

5. Breathe, just breathe, calmly and gently.

Let's all do nothing together.