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March 21, 2021

Slowing Down: The Complex Art of Doing Nothing.

Try it now. Stop everything and do nothing.

How long did you last?

A confession, I count in my shortlist of credible lifetime achievements the ability to simply do nothing. It took some serious energy investment, and when last I tried, I managed an astounding 30 minutes.

I feel I should be doing better, as someone who has spent 10 years of traveling long-haul and wasted countless hours in airport lounges doing something.

In the interest of transparency, I am new here.

I have journeyed here from a life in corporate business land, far away from the mindful life. It came to be in 2020 that I was made redundant. Lucky break, I know.

Now, I find myself with opportunities to try all manner of crazy experiments, like publishing to a mindful creative space and, of course, trying to perfect the art of doing nothing.

I have taken no classes, only scribbled passing thoughts caught when attempting to perfect idleness. Such musings, until now, were fated to live forever unseen on a document drive labeled “do not share,” with no backup arrangements in place.

Outside of my direct experiences, subject matter research comes from watching Netflix, YouTube, and reading.

I have always been an avid reader. It is still the perfect escape mechanism for me, which, along the way, by sheer luck, has led me to insights about the world around me and allowed me access to the beautiful minds of all kinds of writers.

The conditioning to be active begins when we come into existence.

Indeed, it is so intrinsic in our nature that I have often wondered if this restlessness gave momentum to the first idle cells to divide. Whatever the cause, since then, nature has gifted us seamlessly automatic responses from ancient roots whose primary interests were only survival, often only to reproduce.

Fast-forward to today, and a more significant proportion of conditioning seems to come from the perspectives gathered by the wider community. Usually handed down the generations to contribute to our personal and collective survival and growth somehow.

To some, it is clear that we seem to have gotten distracted and gone way off the beaten track on this path to alleged growth, security, and prosperity.

Increasingly, it seems we inadvertently accepted terms and conditions that flashed like lightning before we could blink them to awareness and have all agreed that collective destruction and competition is the healthy way forward.

Even here, in the mindful life space, where the motivation is to help yourself, others, or the planet, competition exists.

To write better, to learn, and to promote. My profile page already reminding me of my lifetime contributions, measured in hearts and followers. I’ll save you the search time. I have neither.

I wonder if there are perhaps more compassionate ways and models to encourage the silent to step forward with their truths? Or ways of normalizing doing nothing so that they may even reach their source.

My first experience of indulging in doing nothing came from traditional meditation.

The traditional form where you sit and try to stop thoughts or follow your breath. However, I realized I am still doing. It takes effort to become effortless here, and even then, it is hit or miss depending on an infinite number of variable conditions in any given moment—and like most vices in life, it is prone to addiction.

I have mostly unconsciously and sometimes consciously steered myself to accept the path of least resistance. Excuses given were: it’s not that bad, it is so much easier, and it is a lot of temporary fun.

Like many on the path before me, interventions of mystics and minimalists guided me back.

The experience is much like that with Lakitu. He is a “Mario Kart” character who floats around with a sign that flashes “wrong direction.” He persistently appears until the vehicle is either turned around or veers off the road into a bottomless valley. The valley option is also present when driving in the correct direction. As you endlessly fall into nothingness, he kindly manifests again to gently place you back in the middle of the road, always facing the right direction.

And the message is always simple: Stop. Do nothing. You are enough. There is enough. Now is enough.

It is with this message I want to say namaste. And, if you hear from me no more, perhaps it is because I finally mastered the complex art of doing nothing at all.

Now, I ask for only one more moment—let’s stop together to do nothing for another moment.

No attachment to breath or thought

I wait for you in silence.

In darkness filled with speckles of light

Surrounded by love and emptiness.

~

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