Change Through Inaction.
An easy—and often overlooked—method for changing ourselves and our community is inaction.
From childhood we are taught that hard work reaps the best rewards. We watch our parents work eight hours a day. We go to school where we are given gold stars for our efforts. We go to work where we are given raises for our performance. Our history, legends and popular media are full of stories of people who “made it” after toil and struggle. It’s no wonder that we don’t realize how strong inaction can be.
When we see something wrong in our world, or unwanted thoughts pop into our minds, we immediately feel we have to fight against them. But this may not be effective—because, as we also know, violence begets violence and energy feeds further energy. When we are angry and face off with another angry person, anger multiplies. If we feed the thoughts in our head, they eat and grow fatter by the minute. If we spend our money with unethical companies, such companies grow and multiply.
If however we withdraw participation, energy will withdraw and dissipate. You can’t argue with a person who refuses to argue back. Your thoughts won’t grow if you don’t give them attention. Companies that mistreat their employees, animals and the environment can’t thrive if we don’t support them.
Another reason this tactic is not used often is because we underestimate our own power. We figure that one person cannot go up against the beast and that is true. However, a refusal to participate by many sends a clear message that gets results.
We see our thoughts as us, but that is not the case. The spiritual teacher Mooji uses the analogy of thoughts as trains. Just because the train pulls up to the station and opens its doors does not mean you have to get on. By actively choosing not to ride or participate, the doors close, the mind becomes quieter and the train and thoughts move on. Eventually the train schedule gets sparse and we don’t see that train anymore. New thoughts come, but through aware inactivity, they melt away.
Examples of Watch Men or Inactive Change Activities
- Not purchasing processed foods
- Not Buying Meat
- Not Going to BP
- Not Gossiping
- Not participating in Arguments
- Not supporting businesses that engage in unethical practices
- Only Working for companies that treat employees fairly
While there is a time for targeted action, inaction is usually the gentler method for change and can be just as effective. We become watchmen who see what is going on in the world and in our minds—but we refuse to participate. We gently and nonviolently root for change with an attitude of non-resistance. Our energy is only given to those thoughts, people, activities and organizations that are worthy. We take away our participation in those that are not.
Slowly, the things we want to see more of growm while those we don’t…fade away.
Shanna Small is a yoga teacher from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her love for yoga philosophy is expressed in her blog at wellnessfrominside.typepad.com