All our lives we are taught ‘to do’. Action is the wheel behind our existence. Nobody teaches us inaction. In fact, it holds a rather negative connotation. The kind of inaction I am referring to is not the kind that arises from laziness, or tamasic tendencies. I am referring more to a state of harnessing all energies including your thought energy into yourself. You might think I am referring to some kind of meditation, not really, it might get you into a meditative space but it’s not meditating either. Because that would imply doing.
I am not a master of inaction, but I believe I am fairly adept at it. And I would like to share my experiences with it. (I repeat again I am not referring to laziness or procrastination.)From the moment we wake up our body and our mind race into movement. It starts with simple things like brushing, eating, etc. And what to speak of the mind it has the unique ability to race through eons in two seconds!!
Nobody ever thinks of taking a moment or two through the day to just sit. Now some actually do, you probably would take a tea or a coffee break. That doesn’t count. There is action involved. That’s still a ‘doing break’. Have you ever sat back to do nothing, not even to relax? Just to sit down or lie down ceasing activity. Nobody teaches us that.
There are two steps to this. The first is ceasing body activity. This means we don’t keep moving around, we just sit or lie down. We don’t try to drink a cup of tea, we don’t pick up a book to relax, nothing. Just sit. The first thing you will notice is our bodies are also not trained to do nothing. We will start fidgeting, then you will reach for the phone or you will want to eat, or your fingers will move around fidgeting. But try to just sit. Reach for nothing. If your fingers or toes are fidgety let it be. Just don’t give into picking up a phone or walking away. Over time the body becomes less and less fidgety. Start with small time periods. If you can ace a few minutes soon enough you can sit through longer as much as you want.
Then as the body learns to sit or lie down (again don’t sleep, don’t get drowsy that is not the objective), you will notice all sorts of thoughts knocking at your door. Which is alright. Unless you are a master, thoughts will not cease. It’s important however to be alert. Because a lot of people just get into the daydreaming mode or get carried away with whatever thought is arising. And that is again doing. Just sit and be alert. Don’t get into mental planning like I need to buy a car or I have to teach my children this or daydream about some moment in your future. Sometimes the thoughts will be in an overdrive mode. Then the body will be tempted to get up. Resist it, let that feeling arise, it will fade away. Don’t tell yourself you need to get rid of your thoughts. You don’t need to. Just keep staring at a wall without looking at it. Be a little alert though you don’t start dozing off.
It’s not easy but after a few days, you will realize it’s possible. And then two things happen. I have experienced two stages maybe more happens or it will be different for others. But I share with you my two stages.
- Creative thoughts start pouring in, sometimes even solutions to problems. I have come up with entire stories, poems, paintings just sitting. With no effort. It just descends. All of my best ideas have just descended. Actually all my ideas. Please don’t try to reach a solution or get an idea. Let it flow. If you try to force a solution you will disrupt the entire process. In fact, there is a joke in my house. There are many times through the day when people just walk in and find me doing nothing, So my brother often jokes about how I am lazy and am probably just sleeping with my eyes open. One day I told him when you find me sitting idle that’s probably when I am being the most productive. He looked at me puzzled and called me a lazy sloth and left laughing. Initially, I used to find it awkward, it does look silly just sitting or lying staring at the ceiling. But you get past that when you realize how dynamic that moment is. But if the idea of someone walking in and finding you doing nothing makes you feel awkward, just have a headphone on. It saves a lot of explanations:)
- There is another stage I have experienced that goes beyond receiving creative inputs and answers. Now, this is a stage that is best described as a sense of fullness, there is a certain lightness. The thoughts reduce, and a sense of nothingness descends. In this, you feel the smaller identity of who you believe you to be, reduce drastically; and the larger ‘I’ keeps drifting in. And it completely rejuvenates you from inside.
If you learn to sit without anything at all at least twice a day there is strange energy that starts building up within you. It is also very addictive because you will start enjoying your own company more and more. It can be a very productive activity both from the point of the physical and the spiritual world. Over a period of time, you will find you can get into that state as many times as you want through the day. Your compulsive habits, simple things like fidgeting with the phone will no longer be there. It also helps with anxiety.
Both these stages can be exclusive or simultaneous or maybe your experience will be completely different. But I am quite certain whatever it is, it will have a dynamic quality to it, suiting what is best for you.
Either way, it makes you access a vastness that helps you flow with life in a more harmonious manner. There is a small hurdle that can pop up and one needs to be very aware, and that is once you have experienced this, the mind starts seeking it. There lies the problem, when the mind starts wanting it and anticipating it you will jeopardize the entire activity of non-doing. So if that thought arises, just remind yourself I am here to do nothing.
And whoever told you that doing nothing will get you nowhere, try this and see:) There is such a thing as productive laziness.