lady looking at mountainsIntentionally doing nothing  for regular, designated blocks of time has tremendous value… in fact, it can be an art form.  In this society so hinged on going and doing; achieving and striving many experts believe it brings healthy balance to set aside time to just…do… nothing.

“Doing nothing” can improve your life, melt away stress and make yourself more productive when you actually do work.  The practice of doing nothing helps to slow down your body, your breath, improving your mental focus and regulating your emotions.

Focus on 5-10 minutes at a time, and in the beginning of this practice, aim to practice at a quiet time in a quiet place in your home. Turn off all televisions and set a gentle sounding timer on your phone for 10 minutes. Be sure the volume is otherwise turned off and set it across the room.  Be sure no telephones will be ringing, no computers are on. Choose a time when the doorbell is not going to ring and when no one is going to walk in. Find a time and place where there are no potential distraction.

Sit up comfortably… because if you lie down you’re likely to go to sleep and that’s not the same thing as “doing nothing” on purpose.

Close your eyes…. and do nothing except notice how your heart beats on its own and your breath flows naturally…

After 5-10 minutes of doing, nothing get up slowly and note how you feel. Try to set aside time for this practice every day.

Here are some tips and tools for the practice of doing nothing:

Relaxing Your Body: When we are tense, then the practice of “doing nothing” is not as helpful or pleasant. As obvious as it may sound I have to constantly prompt my clients to “get comfortable” first. Literally, be sure you are seated in place that supports your body. Take time to be sure you are physically comfortable.

Breathing: Breathe through your nose, and feel it go into your lungs. Now feel it as it goes out of your body, and notice the sensation of emptying of your lungs.

Thinking is Just a Thing : Thoughts happen. Don’t even try to make them stop.  But you can train your brain to focus on the first two tips and tools. of Relaxing Your Body and Breathing whenever thoughts pop up or creep in.  Simply notice thinking as just a a thing and don’t let it hook you and drag you away or up out of your seat. Notice thoughts happening and return focus to relaxing your body and breathing.

Doing Nothing in Daily Life: Try practicing the above while in the line at the grocery, in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, while in an elevator, even while driving (just be sure to practice with eyes OPEN). Put the ipod away. Turn off the radio and power off your phone. Take a walk at lunch and just listen to the sounds, smell the scents and odors in the air.  See what you can see around you.

This practice observed regularly will bring about a profound shift in perception of your relationship with time as well as the pulls and demands of life.

Mindfully yours,

Lynn Louise