Archive | April 7, 2013

The Art of Doing Nothing At All..


I’m trying to practice the art of “doing nothing at all.” And to do it well.

Are you feeling frazzled?

Feeling overwhelmed by life?

I am going to suggest that if you are spinning your wheels – over and over –  regarding the same things every day, every week, that you step back for a moment while you ponder these words below.  Just think about them.

Do you find when it is suggested to you by loved ones, friends or even your doctor to relax, to take a deep breath that you panic at the thought? All that needs to be done suddenly comes flooding over you in the form of “To Do Lists.” Just like the dozens of generations before us we are also “To Do Lists” creators. We seem to have to be always in the process of accomplishing something. To NOT have such momentum leads us immediately in to thinking that something is wrong.  Thinking at the very least we are being lazy. To find ourselves with time on our hands or worse yet to we find ourselves wandering and meandering all the while filling moments up with “Nothing At All’s.”  This fills us with dreaded anxiety.

For the state of “Doing Nothing At All” feels like it is on the outer edge of life’s norms. It’s a luxury. It’s the impossible dream we talk about one day doing. In reality though we just cannot bring ourselves to give permission for this. It goes against everything our parents and theirs before them taught us.

That’s some of the shame I have personally discovered.

In the days of future’s past we indeed dare not have one idle moment or we were likely to either not eat, be eaten, or possibly die. But with today’s modern stresses just the opposite is so.  If we do not learn to slow down, to “whoa it up”  if you like, we are going to die much too early anyway. Still  we as a species fight what science has been telling us. We are too proud.

The shame in this I think is that we do not know anymore how to play. To relax; to have free time to be child like.

Know how to procrastinate with intentional purpose. Procrastinate and Be Proud of it

 This is too simple a concept to want to accept. I know.

I have been working on finding ways to stay mindful that there is something more to life than I have been putting forth and that it’s my choice whether or not I live a peaceful and content life, not just an existence. Peaceful and content,  Or not. If not my choice than whose?

In a mind over matter kind of way I have in the course of my latest excavation of My Self been finding relics of wisdom that help me stay mindful of the big picture. For me again this is a sense of self peace and contentment. I know I am not alone on this journey and I am not alone is trying to discover the tools that best excavate or dig up the best resources and ideas.

I think of our days as journeys in our life which I believe is what’s it’s all about, not the destination. Like a lazy river we tend to meander and to get side tracked much like that river does. We wander through much of life distracted and not mindful of the moments. We create under currents, whirl pools, and even now & then a few little streams of new adventures, We are like waterfalls, thirsting for the knowledge in the pools that reflect like mirrors that form on the surface. All so very much just like the natural course that a river takes on its journey. We don’t question the rivers meandering, we accept it a part of Mother Nature. Why do we fight our own nature?

Instead of accepting these gentle obstacles as part of the natural course of our own life, we fight it. We punish ourselves for even having those “procrastinating” meandering thoughts. We flood our psyches with ever ancient self chatter about how doing anything that might remotely appear to be “goofing-off” is something to run from. We absolutely feel a sense of shame if we relent and wander. But we are compelled to. Its part of our nature. We fight this “Art of Doing Nothing At All” Doing Anything At All is not what we brag about. It’s not what we mention when someone says, “So what have you been up to?”

And if we do actually accept & allow ourselves the natural inevitable flow of time with a meander and doing nothing at all for a moment in that time we then rush about later thinking we certainly made a big blunder of a choice. We find ourselves feeling the need to make up for that “lost” time. Then begins the verbal dressing down with our self. The guilt sets in.

When a river finds itself in front of itself an obstruction from its dalliance of journey it invariably takes a meander in around about path to navigate the obstacle or distraction. Gently trickling by in its own time. It accepts the obstacle as an opportunity to create a new stream. In its slow wandering ways it takes its own sweet time. The meandering takes the river to places it had not been. maybe even creating new streams.The river still has its work – its purpose in life then becomes the meanderings in response to the obstacles. This may have even served great purpose in that the forest floor is nourished from the under water springs the river discovered in its wandering.

Dong Nothing At All can bring upon our own under ground springs I have discovered. Doing really “Nothing At All” can bring its own rewards. We could be mindlessly coursing through our day and stop at an item on our To Do List such as to dust furniture. Simple mindless work that someone has to do, yet it is one of my pet peeves. Instead of getting from point A to B and getting on with dusting I come to this same table every week where there is a basket of newspapers and magazines waiting beside it to be recycled. It will be fine I told myself, 5 minutes tops. Like I do every time. So I began sorting and stacking the newspapers & magazines. I had music on…..  But then……I lose track of time.. I start to meander. I begin to wander. I am like a vagabond on a journey through typed words. My kind of heaven. My obstacle every time are these newspapers & magazines. I love to open the pages (again) and search for what I probably missed. I look for what kind of prompts I find to write about, to maybe discuss. I do it almost every time I dust that table where the basket is that they collect. Forty-Five minutes later I am finally leafing through the last week old newspaper. I am almost done.

And then……

I kick myself for the time lost,  for the idle procrastination of it all. 45 minutes out the window with nothing to show for my time. I can hear my mother now.” Really? This is how you are using your time management skills?” My mama’s voice in my head. Then the self-retribution starts. Suddenly I immediately forfeit the joy of what I had been doing because I was raised to believe this is wrong, this is lazy. This is procrastinating. I am wasting time. Precious time I have been taught to not squander. For me my meanderings may take me through an obstacle throughout my daily journey. The recycling has been an an obstacle for me for years. Something I have spun my wheels over time and again.

But change my ways? Oh No. Give up that precious meander? Huh-uh.

 I had no clue this was what I was doing. I was letting Mother Nature take her course through and with me. We are just like nature in so many ways. How could we not be when like this earth which is 70% water is also the same as the bodies we live in. I caught myself this time in the midst of my wandering through old news print. While my intent has been to dust furniture, I wander to the newspaper basket every time. Do I really expect a different outcome? Do I really want one?

This was my epiphany.

Maybe all my procrastination is not an idle waste of time. Maybe there is a message of internal peace of mind and contentment mixed up in there. I am thinking that like the river who meanders in all directions as Mother Nature takes her course;  maybe so it is with my meandering self as well.

Before I gather up and re-fold old newspaper pages I sit back in a typical meditative position and just think about this a moment. I begin asking myself why do I do this every time I dust this table? There has to be something in it that is feeding me. I must be getting something out it. Why else would I keep beating my head against this dusty table’s edge and keep repeating my actions?

Then I saw it! 

As I sat there just staring at the mess I had created right smack in the middle of all that newsprint was the large bold type faced print: ” STOP PROCRASTINATING NOW!” Seriously?

The Universe alone knows what it was referring to because no sooner had I read this before my mind was off at the block running wild and free with this very post topic. What I had been doing was meandering and wandering once again through pages I had read once before; when all of a sudden this thought that procrastination and meandering were the same things came flooding over me. Its a peaceful thing this meandering.

Two things this experience taught me.

1. Ideas come in the strangest forms and from strange mediums if you only have your eyes and heart open,

2.) That I can find value in procrastination. This is what fed me every time I stopped to sort newspapers and magazine. Some meandering time. Simply put thiss is what I get out of it and why I continue.

Too simple isn’t it?

Knowing that in order for me to be of any value to others I have to value myself first. To those who may have not figured this out yet I understand. I am just seeing it myself. It has taken me a long time to see the truth in this. We work on our relationships with those we love trying to enhance them. So why do we stop with our selves?  Why do we not work on the relationship with our self first?

We need to focus on our own hearts, our own peace, at our own pace….some of the time.

At least once a week let’s be the first person we think of when we wake in the morning. Be it the power walk you keep promising yourself, or perhaps another opportunity knocking on your door for some meandering. Or the juicy novel you have been saving for a rainy day. Possibly it even could be looking at your own reflection and affirming one positive attribute about yourself; an honest one that is meaningful.

Peace of mind can be an exotic endangered species like the exotic wild flower the Trillium from the forest floors. It is not something to ever take for granted. If you remove (pick) the Trillium from its forest floor it does not grow back; as an endangered the species will die off. I have discovered peace of mind & heart as well as feeling content are choices I can make. And one of the simplest ways I can help bring this to my life is a good old fashion meander & wander.

Lest you worry about not burning any calories while meandering you’ll be missing the point but know that it takes as much energy to resist being productive as it does to work out at the gym for an hour. ( Honest. I believe everything I read, so should you.. ha! )

So whistle yourself a lovely tune, and put away your “To Do Lists”. Take a meander of your own right.

You deserve it Friends.