The Fine Art of Doing Nothing: Being In The Moment With Compassion


Doing nothing can heal.
Doing nothing can expand us.
Doing nothing can be everything

Today I slept until after noon. After a wakeful night, I did not try for a normal day; I took care of myself guiltlessly, kindly and compassionately. My husband, under extreme pressure from a number of directions, took a mental health day from work – and said so. He felt the list of chores could wait, the home projects could wait. He chose to move in the present moment, relaxing, and letting the Screaming Shoulds and Monster Musts go play in someone else’s back yard.

We are both practicing the Fine Art of Doing Nothing.

Doing nothing is not in my blood, no sir. Most of my life has been lived like a cat high on ‘Nip with too many toys – Now what? What’s that? Where’d it go? What about that over there? When you are young, full of fire and energy to burn and completely unaware that you have a finite time on this earth, it can be a heck of a lot of fun.

But when you roll the calendar forward, that kind of behavior becomes a trap, not a trip. Especially in this multitasking, hurry-up-I’m-waiting world, what used to be fun will slowly sap our energy, our focus and our feelings of accomplishment. When that happens, we “hydroplane” – like tires on a wet road, we spin madly and don’t always get traction. Instead of a full toybox, life feels like those nightmares where everyone is shouting at you at once to pay attention to THEM – and no matter what you do, it’s never enough for somebody.

What if you stopped right now? Really – not in a minute, not when you finish what you are doing, but right now?

One of the best ways to refocus, restock your energies and remember what you’re doing here is to learn the Fine Art of Doing Nothing. When you find yourself at a loss, staring at a number of possibilities, stop. Just stop. Immediately bring your attention to where you are.

Drop the book in your hand, close the refrigerator, turn away from the computer. Leave your eyes unfocused, your mind on idle. If you are sitting, feel the chair, feel that you don’t have to move from where you are.

If you are outside, stop. Stand where you are. Sit if you can. Put your attention on the minute sounds of nature – crickets or birdsong, the plop of frogs in a pond, the rustling of dry leaves branches in autumn, the singing silence of a winter night. Don’t try to give everything Meaning, don’t try to make sense of any of it. Just be with it.

There is no goal here, other than doing nothing, simply being in the moment. Knowing that nothing is enough for now. Accepting that when you do nothing, you can’t possibly get it wrong.

Try saying this sentence: Doing nothing can be exactly right. And then accept that “nothing” is perfect for where you are and what you need.

This may be more startling, harder than you think, at least in the beginning. Many of us find doing nothing actually strenuous. We are used to constant movement and distraction – for example, how many people reach for the mind-numbing video game on their smartphone or laptop the minute they find themselves waiting for something else to happen? The idea of just being can feel intolerable for many people. Yet flying from task to task, finding something to do even when you don’t know why you’re doing it only exacerbates the situation. If you can acknowledge that, then the healing begins in that moment.

Even the heavens know that sometimes “doing nothing” is what is required. As it moves through the sky, the Moon shifts astrological signs every two and a half days. It dances from sign to sign, changing aspects to the planets. However, during that sign to sign dance, there is a period called the Void of Course Moon: that’s when the moon is changing, but isn’t DOING anything. It has no orders, and no plans. In the midst of its celestial journey, it’s a time of just being.

When we leave time for doing nothing, we float in the moment without pushing ourselves in one direction or another. It leaves room for things to happen around us, people or thoughts or events coming into our purview that we may want to act on — later. It allows us to understand our worth is not in what we do; our worth simply IS by virtue of our being alive and in this moment. And when our bodies slow down, we can begin to let our minds slow down. As our minds slow down, our bodies relax. It’s one of the most delicious Catch-22 situations that exists.

When plans are blocked, when repairs can’t be made, when people are not available, don’t get frustrated. Don’t find another action to fill in as busywork. Recognize that for right now, perhaps doing nothing is the Order of the Day. When there is no movement in your life toward where you want to go, be like the moon. Float. Be Void of Course. Know that eventually your Liferoad will take you to the next station – where you can be aligned with whatever is next on your Incarnational Agenda.