Doing nothing

Lately, I have gotten to thinking about doing nothing. This is probably because my own life has now slowed down enough for me to have time to think (for which I am very grateful).  We live in a culture that is obsessed with doing. In fact, the more you “do” generally the more respected you are.

Yet in yoga philosophy, “being” is vastly more valued and respected than “doing”. The idea is that your state of being, how you are in this moment, matters much more than what you are doing. I love this idea. I loved it the first time I heard it. Yet it’s definitely a challenge. Personally, I am so drawn to doing something, anything. I know many others are not. They feel called to simply “be” and society often interprets this as lazy. Yet there are many positive qualities to this “being”: peacefulness, a sense of groundedness, more time for reflection, and perhaps most importantly more joy in life.

Years ago, I lived in Africa for half a year. That experience taught me a lot about the power of doing little or nothing. Never before had I been part of an overall culture in which just being was considered just fine. The Africans I met had no trouble just relaxing and enjoying life as it came. There was a certain sense of simply riding with the waves of life rather than struggling so much. To me it was refreshing. It made the crazy pace of life here seem a bit absurd. What was the point of all this rushing around to do stuff anyway. Was it actually making us better, happier, or more fulfilled, or was it perhaps just filling up the time?

When I reflect on the birthing process and how it is dealt with, I see the effects of this “doingness”. How seldom are women left to simply be. It is expected that they do something: walk, move, take drugs, have this or that procedure done. How different birth might be if everyone approached it from a place of being rather than doing. Some Eastern traditions talk about being in the “fullness of emptiness” or the beingness of doing nothing, or coming into a situation with no preconceived ideas about how the situation is supposed to unfold. The fullness of emptiness is a powerful openness to the present moment and what might be experienced right now. That I think, would be a wonderful way to come to the birth experience for all involved; parents, doctors, midwives, doulas and nurses.

Think also how different the experience of parenting might be if we approached it with the same openness. I know that the times that I have stopped trying to force things to be the way I think they should, have also been some of the most memorable and enjoyable with my children.

So my challenge to myself and to you is to do nothing… be in that fullness of emptiness and watch what magic might arise.



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