Okay, so how often you respond to someone asking you “What are you up to?” with “Nothing!”?
And how often are you really doing “nothing”?
We all know how to do nothing. Some days I think I deserve a college degree in laying around and wasting time. But many of us are too busy to do it much, and when we do, our minds are often on other things. We can’t just relax and enjoy the nothingness.
Learning to actually do nothing takes practice. When you learn, you can improve your life, melt away stress, and make yourself productive. Because doing nothing = meditation.
Start with 5-10 minutes a day, in a safe place at home (not at work). Find a place that is distraction free where you won’t be bothered. Shut off all distractions– phone, TV, music, etc. Close your eyes and focus on doing nothing. Thoughts will come up– that you’re wasting time, your to-do list, etc. But just keep your eyes closed and focus on the weight of your body settling into your bed or chair. Notice the sounds in the room around you– the air conditioning humming, birds outside, the sound of your breath.
Focus on your Breathing
The first place to focus is your breathing. Start first by breathing slowly in, and then slowly out. Now closely monitor your breath as it enters your body, through your nose, and goes down into your lungs, and fills your lungs. Now feel it as it goes out of your body, through your mouth, and feel the satisfying emptying of your lungs.
Do Nothing in Nature
Find somewhere peaceful in nature that is close by. It could be your front yard, the part, the woods, beach, river, etc. Make sure the place is out of reach of traffic and city sounds. Nature allows us to really shut ourselves off from the stresses of life. Focus on the natural surroundings around you– look closely at the plants, water, sounds of the wildlife.
Savor your Food & Do Nothing
Sitting down to a good meal or a hot cup of coffee is the perfect time to do nothing. Focus on the liquid as you sip it slowly, savoring every bit of the flavor and texture and temperature in your mouth. Truly enjoy this drink. You’ll start to notice that food tastes better when your attention is focused. You’ll eat less because you’re not distracted. You can actually learn to love healthy foods when you sit down and savor.
Do Nothing in Your Daily Life
We can practice “doing nothing” while we are waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, on a plane. The next time you are forced to wait for something, wait without checking your phone or writing your to-do list, or worrying about what you need to do later. Wait, and do nothing. Concentrate on your breathing.
Next time you’re driving, try focusing on driving and nothing else. Don’t multi-task. Don’t talk on your cell phone, eat, do your makeup. Just drive. Look at things you are passing, feel your breathing.
In the end, “doing nothing” is really just a sneaky way of saying “meditation”. Because when you are truly doing nothing, you are focusing on the present moment, which is exactly what meditation is.
Post inspired by Zen Habits.