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“I need to do nothing.”
How often do you hear that phrase? Typically, the phrases I hear most often in my world sound like this:
“I have so much to do, I don’t know where to start.”
“I feel like I’m drowning!”
“I have 10 places to be at once”
“There are too many deliverables!”
“I feel like all I do is run my kids all over the place!”
“Let me check my calendar.”
I’ve used some of those phrases myself lately. But in all honesty, I’ve been thinking about things differently. What resonates with me as I get busier raising my kids, managing my household and keeping up with a corporate career is:
“I need to do nothing.”
In February, I discovered a part of my life that I never knew was missing: the journey into mindfulness and meditation. I experienced Reiki for the first time and was so in love with the concept of understanding the power of energy, I became a Reiki Practitioner. I began meditating regularly and was so in love with it that I am now practicing to teach meditation. Engaging in these things were concepts I couldn’t explain to anyone, but the gravitational pull of needing to do them was so strong, I had to move forward. My heart said “yes.”
When I stopped long enough to stop doing and start listening to what my body and soul was telling me, the clarity appeared.
I’m not suggesting we can get through life just sitting idle or avoiding the hard work that is sometimes necessary. What I’m suggesting is the idea that “doing” is actually an escape from the gift of “being.” How will you ever hear your heart saying “yes” if you over think it and react like a busy-body?
“How do I stop doing,” you ask? Stopping is only the first step. I suggest a five-part exercise to begin:
1. Stop. Most of us are reacting at the point we actually “stop.” We stop because we can’t deal with life any other way. Does it really benefit us to continue in this type of reactionary state? No! Therefore, I invite you to be mindful, to pause and to consider a break to your over-committed life. Just stop and…
2. Breathe. Breathing might be easier than stopping, but still a challenge at times. Breathing is so routine, we oftentimes forget how therapeutic it is. Once you “stop,” I suggest you take three deep, cleansing breaths; the kind of breathing that fill your lungs completely, hit the depths of your belly and finishes with a nice, well-paced (and slightly forceful) exhale; just like you’re blowing out a candle.
Filling your lungs to capacity then releasing the stress of your situation through a big exhale is bliss. If you can continue deep breathing for 60 seconds and focus exclusively on the rise and fall of you tummy while you do it, even better. You may even forget what you were stressing about before you stopped.
3. Listen. After you’ve taken those three cleansing breaths (or have gone the extra mile for 60 seconds), sit in the quiet. Listen. I don’t mean listen for noises, but listen for whatever might arise in your being, in your soul. What is it? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What emotion is present? Do you feel sensation in any part of your body? Where do you feel it? What is the sensation? There are a million questions that could be asked, but the goal is to understand what your soul (through your body) is trying to tell you.
4. Understand. Perhaps you don’t have the answer to those questions and you’re afraid of what that means. Perhaps you know all the answers…and the answers scare the hell out of you. In either instance, a message is present. Feelings, emotions, sensations manifested in the body—all these things are information waiting to be discovered. The beauty is that there is no right or wrong answer; there is only information. Seek first to understand that information and realize it takes time.
5. Be Kind. After practicing these steps once or twice, it’s possible you will become frustrated and wonder why you’ve wasted your oh-so valuable and otherwise productive time on such a silly and basic exercise. Keep practicing anyway. You didn’t get stressed out after one temper tantrum by your toddler or after two deliverables due simultaneously at work today. The stress begins to layer day after day and creates a state of being. Give this a shot; be kind to yourself. The world does a good enough job at beating you up. Don’t you think you owe yourself some loving-kindness?
I recall times in my life where every minute of the day was accounted for; I couldn’t spare a 60 second break to clear my mind because the thought of missing a deadline drove me insane.
I have fallen victim to running from Point A to Point B to Point C, then refuel for Point D.
I still find many commitments on my calendar and struggle to manage them some days.
And while I’m willing to bet most of you can go from zero to 60 mph in an instant, going from 60 mph to zero is probably more difficult.
Trust me when I tell you, it is 100 percent worth the effort to try. I have learned that the art of doing nothing is the best road to clarity I have ever discovered.
Stop, Breathe, Listen, Understand, Be Kind…and reclaim your heart.
Author: Julie Cline
Editor: Catherine Monkman