July 4, 2013

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing. ~ Cierra Thompson

What is it about us that make it almost impossible to enjoy the art of doing nothing?

Why does it seem taboo to not have an agenda set, or a purpose for our actions for just a few moments? What if our purpose was to just be?

Many of us feel guilt for sleeping in, or for taking an hour or twenty minutes to go outside and sit and enjoy a moment to ourselves in nature, with nothing to do, with no smart phone or iPod harassing our minds with noise and information.

It has been imprinted in my brain since I was younger that doing ‘nothing’ is wrong. I learned at a young age to be ‘efficient’ and productive.’ Every day, every hour, every moment has a purpose and everything I do is for a reason. You can see how draining this can be, I get tired just thinking about that.

This is not necessarily a bad thing; this typical American work-a-holic mentality defiantly helped me become successful in college and got me a basketball scholarship all the way through school. This robotic mentality gave me a lot of success and brought a lot of positive things to my life, but it equally brought negative energy and stress as well. Trying to do something all day, every day, is exhausting and it is setting you up for failure. There will always be a feeling of more that you need to do, or more clever ways to multitask five things instead of just two. It’s an ongoing downward spiral that will leave you lying on the floor of your living room in your three-day-old pajamas to recuperate from your productive extravaganza.

I challenge you to take twenty minutes in your day to sit and do absolutely nothing, to just be.

Our society today is over-stimulated with technology and noise. All this excitement stimulates our nervous system to go into overdrive. This stimulation causes us to go into fight or flight mode. We are on our edge as long as our nervous system is being stimulated, keeping us in the high adrenaline state. Our bodies still respond to any stress stimulation the same way it would have back in the days when we were being chased by a Saber-toothed tiger. We receive a stimulus, our nervous system turns on our flight or fight response, causing our bodies to tense and anticipate the need for action.

This is a great reaction if we were still being chases by saber tooth tigers, but we are not. The stimulus now is our phones, our computers and 5 o’clock traffic jams. Our bodies have not adapted to differentiate between different stressors. The nervous system turns on, and the adrenaline flows, causing specific muscles to tighten, our digestive system to slow, and our bodies become primed for fight or flight. When you take a moment to sit and free yourself from the computer, from your smart phone, from your agenda, you are allowing your nervous system to unwind, and this allows your fight or flight to disengage. It is like a mini vacation for your nervous system.

A lifetime in an adrenaline state can cause some serious illnesses, this is why it is important to master the art of doing nothing.

Now as I am graduating and being turned loose into the ‘real world’ I have no idea what I am doing, and that is OK. I am floating along, enjoying each moment for what it’s worth, following the path my heart chooses. Some criticize my wandering ways, saying I show a lack of ambition, saying I could be doing more. Why do more? Always doing more doesn’t get you anywhere any faster, it creates a stronger desire to always be somewhere else, rather than right where you are. Somehow knowing that who we are in the moment and where we are at is exactly where we are supposed to be. This thought is so comforting to my soul.

What is so wrong with taking in some time to do nothing? What is so wrong with lying outside before work for a few minutes to watch the clouds float by and catch a few rays like we used to do when we were little kids?

When we are left alone in silence a lot of us become uncomfortable and frantic. We should be doing something! …Right??? Sometimes it is better to do nothing at all and enjoy the simple moment, however small it maybe be, and enjoy the simple sweetness of doing nothing.

Cierra is a free spirited Texan with her heart set on travel and yoga. She is a yoga therapist, and studying bodywork and massage therapy. Cierra is an anatomy and physiology nerd and loves studying the human body. She currently is on the coast teaching yoga on the beach to the community. Cierra loves writing, biking, and her mutt Bentley.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

{Photo: via Fajr Strong on Pinterest}

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