At times we need to take a break in order to regenerate. It helps boost our creativity and makes us more productive. It might be harder to do nothing for someone whose life is like a rollercoaster.
After a day of hard work, few people can treat themselves to putting their feet up and doing nothing. Most of us are still on the go with food shopping, getting dinner sorted, keeping some time aside for the kids and so on. We are drained by bedtime. With everything that is going on in the world these days, even watching TV and reading the news can be draining. Something as simple as talking to a colleague or a friend can have the same effect at times. These patterns seem normal as we run on automatic pilot and days go by, months go by and so do the years without us having the chance to stop and simply be happy in the present moment.
Do I deserve it?
When I left my office job after seven years and chose be a complementary therapist, I felt an immense relief to take a break, during which I decided to treat myself to a short ‘do nothing’ period. Can you guess what strong emotion came up after just a few days? To my great surprise, it was …. Guilt! I was used to following a set structure at work but now I found myself with many moments of sitting around twiddling my fingers. I had too much time on my hands which made me feel inefficient and wonder if I was being lazy.
Many people experience an inner tug of war between guilt and feeling worthy when they take time off for themselves. So, the first thing to do, whether it is a day or a month off, is to know and to believe that we truly deserve it. This was the first lesson I learnt. I am worthy of taking time for myself. I have the right to treat myself to doing nothing. How strongly do you believe that you deserve it?
What to do when we do nothing?
A lot of people think that sitting in front of the TV means doing nothing but if they spend this same time in a more therapeutic environment such as sitting in a park, they will understand the true meaning of doing nothing. This type of break is often referred to as an incubation moment, especially for people whose work depends a lot on creativity. Being fixated on goals can be more of a barrier as we have opted out of the possibility of deviating from them and finding new ways to expand our abilities.
In a study looking at boredom, participants were made to copy phone numbers from a book. By the end, creative ideas had surged up as they tried to alleviate boredom. As much as I want to expand my creative skills, I don’t see myself trying this frustrating technique anytime soon!
You don’t need to be a monk sitting in a temple to find a ‘doing nothing’ place. You can set aside 10 minutes a day or take a whole day or week, whatever suits you. Nature is the best place to let go of everything on your mind.
Some therapeutic ‘doing nothing’ possibilities:
- The first step is to truly believe that you deserve to set aside this time for yourself.
- You can sit in your garden or in a park and focus on the trees and flowers. You may also choose to sketch the scenery in front of you. This will boost your creativity and refresh your mind.
- Gardening can be extremely calming and increases our creativity at a subconscious level. In a way, weeding helps us to get rid of what does not serve us anymore, planting is like sowing the seeds of new ideas in us and watering brings confidence that our ideas will grow and blossom.
- You can sit comfortably at home and bring all your attention to a soothing photo. Focus on your breathing and feel the tension releasing from the body. You don’t need to think about anything, simply look at the photo.
- Do some yoga or stretching.
- Go for a walk without anywhere specific in mind, with no purpose. Just stroll …
- Lie on the grass and feel connected to the earth. Feel the coolness beneath you as you watch the clouds drift by. Observe the shapes of the clouds. Or close your eyes and simply feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. As thoughts come, think of them as clouds and let them drift by effortlessly. At times we keep ourselves busy on purpose to avoid facing our emotions. In such cases doing nothing can be extremely helpful. The emotions that we have buried inside will automatically come up and we can release them once and for all. Only then, will we be in a genuine ‘do nothing’ space and truly enjoy it.
I hope this blog helps you find your own well-deserved nothingness!