A few weeks ago, I took a week off, which is unusual for me. I took a road trip to visit family, renew a nurturing connection, and enjoy a much-needed change of pace. That week of almost no digital connection, sufficient sleep, spontaneous activity and conversation, and time alone listening to birds in the trees or reading, among other things, was a most welcome time of renewal. Some might call it doing nothing, though the time certainly did not seem empty.
Doing nothing …is a feeling of presence and truly enjoying the moment as it is. It is simple and pure….
It serves an important purpose as well, probably unwittingly to most, in that it provides a sense of connection, not only to each other but with yourself. As a result, you end up gaining greater clarity about what is important to you at your core. This is a stimulating, always on-the-go society and it has become the default form of living, especially in the West. There is so much pressure to perform and meet expectations, creating a treadmill of stressful activity day after day….
Somewhere along the way society gave up on notions such as relaxation, idleness, and living in the moment as an important part of daily life. Having periods of time with little activity has always been a part of life (until, perhaps, the rising energy of the past few decades).
The quote is from an email communication by the Deepak Chopra Center. It caught my attention because I, like others, experience the fast-paced chaos of modern times. Chopra is correct. However, slowing down to find enjoyment is often easier said than done.
Few among us have not experienced the rising pace of life and the ensuing rush to accomplish ever more in a dwindling time frame. The most fortunate among us have managed to carve out moments of stillness within the frenzy. The truth is that we all need those moments of stillness; we need them more frequently than most of us realize.
Some may object that doing nothing is not possible, because even if very still, one is still existing. That is something. OK, got it, but that is not what is meant by doing nothing. If one is doing nothing, one is engaged in whatever degree of stillness for no ostensive purpose other than the act or process with which one is engaged. This is key to understanding nothing. One is in the moment, and not out to achieve or accomplish. For example, if one is sitting on a cliff, wind blowing on the face, watching the distant sunset, one might say that is nothing. If one is sitting on that cliff with the purpose of generating relaxation, or recording/remebering the details of the sunset, or even drying damp clothes in the wind, that person is not doing nothing. If all there is is in the moment, and is simply the experience of what is happening, without purpose or a sense of having accomplished a challenge, then that is doing nothing. It is being, not doing.
Being is not necessarily the absence of activity, but the attitude in which any activity is occurring. It is centered in feeling and intuition, rather than in thinking, planning and accomplishing. It has no purpose, in the sense in which most people understand purpose. It is easy to dismiss, yet is a prize of great value, value which goes often unrecognized. Peace, growth, health, relationships have their roots in non-doing. Being has no counting or comparing. In the moments of being, time does not exist, just as it does not exist in the far reaches of infinity. We cannot DO outside of time; we can BE in those moments in which we can relax and devote attention solely to the present, without judgment.
People try to do this in meditation, but this is not the only way to experience moments of being. Listening to inspiring music, without analyzing, judging or looking at the clock, simply to experience the music is being. Coloring a mandala, walking in nature, soaking in a tub, staring into the fire, even the act of caring for a pet or another are entrances into being when they are done without exterior purpose to do them, without needing to accomplish them, without expecting result of them or analyzing them. They are entrances when they are simply the experience of the moment, when we are experiencing the present in a focused way.
If being is simply experiencing the present moment, whatever it is, then it follows that in order to be, we must let go of what we normally cling to – our expectations, judgments, desires, or thinking about what is going on Not thinking does not make us dummies. The mind is always thinking; it does not seem to be able to turn itself off. To be, we need for a moment to cease to identify with the mind, to simply let it do its thing, knowing it cannot define us if we refuse to be defined thereby. Inspiration is rarely a result of thinking about things; it comes instead after moments of releasing thought to simply be. Technology is much like the mind. When we use it, we are normally thinking, doing something that the technology helps us to do. For me, the break from even the limited technology I use helped me for a few moments to simply be. It helps me to write, but it does not help me to be.
It is so simple, yet being (in the moment) is surprisingly difficult for most to do. One cannot try to be, because trying is doing. One cannot be angry with oneself for not being, because the anger is judging and doing. It is worth it, though, to set aside times to practice relaxing and releasing, simply experiencing what is. I do think that practice helps.
I wish us all experiences of being.