I know what you’re thinking, we all know how to do nothing. We all know how to lie around and waste time. But many of us are too busy with everything going on in our lives, so when we do it, our minds are often distracted on other things. We may find it hard to relax and actually enjoy the nothingness.
Doing nothing can be a waste of time, or it can be a pure art. Here’s how to become a master, and in the process; improve your life, melt away the stress, and make yourself more productive in your daily routine.
How To Start
Doing nothing can be overwhelming if you attempt to do too much nothing at once. Do small nothings at first. Focus on 5-10 minutes at a time, and start your practice sessions in a comfortable place. I think that this will vary for everyone. Overall, I think it’s best to start in a private place – not at work or in a busy public place.
You may also not be ready to do nothing in the confined spaces of your house, like in your bedroom or living room. Try going to your favorite nature spot, somewhere secluded if possible. I always find solace in a place that has water – being near the ocean, a lake, a creek, etc.
Find a time and place where there are not many distractions, not much noise, not a lot of people to bother you.
Shut off all distractions — TV, computer, cell phones, music. Doing nothing is hard when our electronic bff’s are calling our names. It’s especially hard with absolutely no distractions other than your own thoughts.
After 5-10 minutes of doing nothing, you can quit. Try to do this every day, or as much as possible to develop the routine. You might want to start by just doin a couple minutes every day. 5-10 doesn’t sound like much, but it’ll feel like an eternity your first few times trying. Download the app called Insight Timer, which has free guided meditation sessions, and timed meditations.
Most likely, your mind will be wandering quite a bit as you’re sitting in your space of solitude. So, we’ll practice a technique that is not only extremely beneficial for you, but also gives you something to do.
Start first by breathing slowly in, and then slowly out. Now closely monitor your breath as it enters your body, through your nose, and goes down into your lungs, and fills your lungs. Now feel it as it goes out of your body, through your mouth, and feel the satisfying emptying of your lungs.
Do this for 5-10 minutes, if you can. Practice this as you can. When you start thinking about other things, attempt to bring your thoughts back to your breathing.
An important part of doing nothing is being able to completely relax. If we are tense, then the doing of the nothing is really uncomfortable. Relaxing starts by finding a comfortable place to do your nothing — a grassy alcove, a perch above the ocean, on your porch. Maybe you want to start inside in a more private environment such as on a plush couch, or maybe on a well-made, clean bed. Once you’ve found your spot, lie in it, and wiggle around to make it fit your body better. You want to be comfortable and not constantly fidgeting around.
Next, try the breathing technique. If you are not completely relaxed by now, you can try something called Yoga Nidra. This is essentially the practice of hypnotizing your own body into a state of total relaxation.
Although this technique works best laying down, you can also practice if you’re sitting upright. Starting with your toes, visualize your feet heavy, sinking into the earth. Actually say the words in your head – “my feet are sinking into the earth, they are heavy”, and work your way up your entire body. You can also say things like “I am completely and utterly at peace. There is nowhere else I’m supposed to be, nothing else I’m supposed to be doing, I am here for myself and I am okay.”
Another great way of relaxing is an exercise where you tense each muscle in your body, one body part at a time, and then let the tensed muscle relax. Continue for every tense muscle in your body, working your way up from your feet to your head.
The Art Of Meditation
Being out in nature, you can practice the art for 20 minutes, an hour, or even longer. There are fewer distractions, and you can really shut yourself off from the stresses of life. Don’t just let your mind wander everywhere — focus on the natural surroundings around you. Look closely at the plants, at the water, at the wildlife. Truly appreciate the majesty of nature, the miracle of life.
The next step is to try doing nothing in the middle of chaos, in your workplace or other stressful environment. Just shut everything out, close your eyes, and think about your breathing. Try a relaxation technique.
Do this for 5-10 minutes at a time, building up to 20-30 minutes. If you can do this, in the middle of a stressful day at work or with your kids, you will allow yourself to focus more fully on the task at hand. You will be relaxed and ready to concentrate, to able to bring yourself into a state of peace.