The art of doing nothing

When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? silence

That’s no tv, no internet, no reading, no talking on the phone, no socializing, no working, nothing! Chances are you are trying very hard to recall the last time you really did nothing.

If you have tried to meditate and have found that you can’t sit still or that you can’t clear your mind, you are not alone.

The mind has a hard time doing nothing too!

Meditation is not about emptying your mind because, let’s face it, that might last for a second then the thoughts will return.

Get to know the nature of your own mind.

Your mind is constantly filled with repetitive thoughts and chatter. It’s how we react to those thoughts that matters. We can choose to get caught up in them and follow the stories or we can choose to just watch what’s happening.

Become an observer of your thoughts for a few minutes each day.

Observing your thoughts will help you gain perspective on how the mind works. The mind is very powerful and the more you understand the nature of your mind, the better you will be able to cope with feelings of stress or anxiety when they arise.

There are countless situations in our lives where we do not have control of the outcome, yet we tend to dwell on minute details and focus on ‘what ifs’, what should be or what should have been. This causes us to miss out on the right NOW.

A short practice on observing the mind:

  • Choose a time of day when you know it will be quiet in your home, perhaps early in the morning before others wake up, if you don’t live alone.
  • Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair. You can try this lying down however you may end up falling asleep!
  • Take a few, slow, deep breaths into your lower belly.
  • Set aside any goals or achievements you may be looking to accomplish by sitting still. Let go of any outcome for this practice.
  • When the first thought comes, do nothing, just sit there. Allow the mind to roam freely from thought to thought.
  • When the mind follows a certain storyline, allow it, instead of trying to prevent it.
  • Continue to sit and do nothing.
  • After a few minutes take a deep breath in and then let it go. Let this be the end of the exercise.
  • Repeat the following day around the same time. Continue with the practice and take note of your observations each time.

I’m not promising any revelations nor am I going to tell you what you will or should feel after practicing for a few days. You may find sitting still very difficult or agitating at first, which is normal. What’s important is to pay attention to your observations after the meditation. You might want to write down some notes afterwards, such as what the mind was focusing on, how did you feel sitting still? There are no right or wrong answers.

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