Not Doing

Posed on 02 December 2015

“What are you up to?” We exchange this friendly, casual greeting all the time, without thinking about its meaning. It’s polite and shows interest. The resulting exchange can be a quick catch up or a not-so-brief digression that becomes a conversation in itself. This variety of conversation is natural, personal and not remotely planned. The topic can be the day’s plan, those aggravating events that disrupt it, social matters or the crisis of what to wear to a special event. And, of course, relationships. The actions and activities that make up our daily life, our existence and our sense of who we are. We tend to define ourselves by what we do: these activities, our careers, relationships, passions and challenges. But we never discuss what we don’t do. Mostly because few of us allow ourselves to be still. To NOT do. Once a trip, short or long, would involve a certain amount of staring out the window. Being in a reverie. Lost in oneself. Old movies – imagine a black and white classic – depict characters on a train, deep in reflection. Doing nothing. During times like this there’s a lot to be discovered about ourselves, feelings, joys and fears – our lives. Today’s journey involves a pile of magazines or newspapers and, of course, emails read and exchanged, plus, checking in on facebook or twitter. ‘Not Doing’ is no longer recognised, still less regarded as a skill. The art of Being Still could soon be lost. When was the last time you sat quietly and did absolutely nothing? Why would you do nothing when you could be learning something important, something you can discuss, facts that are interesting, exciting or will add to your success or ensure you’re well informed. What’s more, when asked what you’ve been up to, saying you’ve been ‘doing nothing’ can be a real conversation-stopper. It’s become unfashionable. Almost an embarrassing confusion. Yet ‘down time” – a few minutes, an hour, possibly even a day – draws you within. To meet your true self, your core, your strength. The part has a deep understanding of what, and who, is in your best interests and, perhaps more importantly, what isn’t. We all have this ‘inner guidance system’. But few of us are tuned into it. Or, perhaps, you either ignore it or notice it only after the fact, when you recall having felt that somebody or something wasn’t quite right. However, this stillness is always there for you. Visit every so often and you’ll have access to it and its accompanying wisdom – even when you’re moving at your swiftest and must think on your feet. When you most need that inner guidance. No time for staring out the window? Consider how much time you spending worrying, take a percentage of that, and instead ‘do nothing’. This will not only strengthen your relationship with that inner guide who steers you wisely when you’ve no time to even think about such matters, that guide might even reveal ways to deal with those persistent worries. And, better yet, you’ll fuel up on the stillness that can power your day – and your life.