“You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”
How to do nothing; you didn't expect that one, did you? Since the industrial revolution, doing nothing is a feat. As soon as you dare to pronounce this simple answer "Nothing" to the question: What are you doing? People look at you as if you have three heads, with jealousy, surprise or envy. Indeed, most people do not know how to get there. Leaving the culture of "faster or the mile long to do list" or even " multitasking" (it is proven that the multitasking exists only for computers. It’s the reason it has been invented in the first place. The human brain can’t do two things at the same time. It can only do things in sequence, one after the other.) is a jump into the unknown, especially if no one follows you.
Farniente, what a concept!
I’ve learned very early in life from my parents who were farmers, that doing nothing did not exist. I had developed such a strong belief that if I did nothing, I felt that I was wasting my time. A panic settled in my core that mimicked a contraction. Phew! I can no longer believe this, which is why I take myself by the hand and dare to undo the evidence of its truthfulness. This practice is more and more part of my self-care regimen, to come first in my life and be selfish whether one agrees or not with me. It is not a luxury, but a right and a necessity. Furthermore, when we take really good care of ourselves, more good things happen.
It is said that the Italians are the masters of farniente. They’ve understood the importance of recharging their inner batteries. What can we learn about idleness?
Have they borrowed the concept from the Eight Hour Song, created in 1886, where we are offered to work eight hours, to sleep eight hours and to do what we will for the third phase of the day?
Do they ask themselves this daily question: how can I contribute to my life today? I believe that part of the answer includes time for oneself and time to do nothing where there is no goal to achieve except to meet ones needs.
Do they say NO more often? Because when we say no, our yeses become more valuable. We are no longer attracted to the shiny penny syndrome that turns us away from our real goals more times than not.
Is their secret motto to make the most of the "here and now"?
Could not finding any utility for an activity a starting point in the quest for non-doing?
I think of another avenue, that of doing things slowly, very slowly. Could we find in slowness a source of greater satisfaction?
I believe that doing nothing is necessary to nourish the soul. I even think it can save us. The question you have to ask yourself is: "Is it imperative to always be doing something? You must consciously decide to put yourself in stop mode; it must be neither a punishment nor a reward, but something normal. For some, "free time" rhymes with "panic". Let's meditate a moment on its opposite: "free time" rhymes with "pleasure".
The American monk and poet Thomas Merton declared “Some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual... There are times, then, when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for a while and do nothing. And for a man who has let himself be drawn completely out of himself by his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act he can perform.” Mr. Merton clearly forgot to include woman in his declaration since we experience the same kind of activities as our male counterpart.
My backyard view of the lake. It's easy to melt in that Adirondak chair.
Choosing your spot
Here are places that worship the art of doing nothing. Places where nothing is excluded, supervised, filtered, constructed or orchestrated so that you feel compelled to do something.
Take a sensual and relaxing shower by letting the water relax your tense muscles; lawns, whether in a park or in your yard, to admire the sky and put your worries and stress in the passing clouds; delight in the sounds of a small fire; libraries where you are not asked to buy anything; the rocking chairs, whose back and forth motion is so soothing. Are we doing something when we admire nature as in seashores, botanical gardens, mountains and woodlands? I'm talking about the real nature, not the one that is dormant on your computer screen (the latter does not help to reduce your stress, it is scientifically proven); your massage therapist table; spas during the week, hammocks or your own bed; cafés in Paris or any other town or village where the chairs are turned towards the passers-by to observe the permanent theater of the street. My next idea is not a place itself, but it can be added to several of my suggestions: take your pulse and connect to your heart. It is a free and effective way to listen to the subtle signs of serenity and come back to the present moment.
Personally, I change my clothes and remove my bra and anything that squeezes my body when it comes time to be in doing nothing mode. In doing so, I leave the worries of working with the clothes I leave behind. It's a mental thing that works, just test it for yourself.
I walk more slowly than usual to better enjoy the movement of my body. During this contemplative walk, I pray or notice the gratitude of the day and smile. Smile relaxes me and you? I smile at the spectacle of nature.
Laughing is also a magic door for me. It is a tranquilizer without harmful effect. Laughter reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure and helps relieve muscle tension.
Sometimes I doodle too. Doodling is proving to be an effective relaxant when one lets one's imagination run wild. In addition, after a session with a client, I give myself a moment of respite to mentally drop and say: Énergie Nouvelle! These two words give me an instant global thrill and have the function to reset my thermometer.
Moreover, I am having more and more fun. It may seem odd to say this, but as mentioned above, I have been in the doing, doing mode for a long time. The " I must do ..." have been part of my life too long. How about you?
How to do nothing?
Choose from the above suggestions or your own, then cook up half an hour or more of idleness. For beginners or anxious people, I invite you to start by visualizing yourself doing nothing for a few minutes and if you feel an internal contraction coming up, use the Faster EFT tapping protocol to release these tensions. I am also a beginner at this. I remember that I'm worth it. I take myself by the hand by making the mental bridge that tells me how good and re-energized I'll be after this non-activity.
Here are some tips for those who need a reason or justification to allow themselves to do nothing:
this non-activity will help you clear your mind of the heaviness of life;
non-activity will prolong your life and increase your ability to be productive in all areas of your life.
Doing nothing is a precursor to something to be, to say or to do because you will notice that your best ideas come when you are not doing anything.
Warn your entourage that you will not be available for a certain amount of time.
Leave aside all distractions, especially those with ringing tones.
Choose a location (see previous suggestions) where you will not find anything to do. Sit there or lie down there.
Find ways to relax every limb and every muscle in your body without forgetting to let go of all the sighs you've held back. An audible sigh relieves tension.
Feel the ambient smells or inhale lavender essential oil; calm your breath with the awareness of sending your breath deep within yourself as it is through this kind of inhaling that we have access to our repressed emotions and remember that you are worth it.
During the first attempts, you may want to sleep, especially if you have burned the candle at both ends for too long. If this is your case, plan more sleep time to enjoy more of your next lazy moments.
Franz Kafka challenges us by saying: "You do not have to leave the room. Sit right at your table and listen. Do not even listen, just wait. Do not wait, stay calm and lonely. The world will offer itself freely to you, without a mask. It has no other choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet. "
In these times of overstimulation, we must take the lead and stop to BE, remember where and who we are; in short, to be physically, mentally and emotionally at ease by choosing regenerating activities or non-activities. DOING NOTHING teaches us to listen to what our hearts want to communicate to us. Allow ourselves to be quiet long enough to perceive what is in and around us. Thus, we will be better off in the long run.
I'm not encouraging you to do nothing at all, but to decide that doing nothing is part of a ritual to take good care of yourself. We are in the FOMO (fear of missing out) electronic movement and now is the time to start the NOSMO (the necessity of sometimes missing out) movement.
Doing nothing really means doing something: living in accordance with nature and with our own nature; carefully being in and observing the world without flinching to our own core needs.
The purpose of the articles I write is obviously to put into practice the suggested tools. If you have read so far, I can conclude that you needed it badly. Take it slow and read this article again so it can become a first step to being more connected to life and moving towards NOSMO without guilt or panic.
For the little history
2,000 years ago, Aristotle declared that one of the essential challenges that man faced was the occupation of his free time.
To go further
Call me for a free orientation consult to verify if we are a good match to work with the Faster EFT stress relief modality to wisk your stressors away.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell Melville House; 232 pages, 2019