The art of not doing

So, I sat on the couch and stared out the window for a good 5 minutes last week.

It took a lot if effort. Not the sitting bit. Or the staring bit. But the 5 minute bit.

To make myself stop. To sit. To stare. To do this in the middle of a busy day rather than in the stillness of a quiet morning. To do this in the middle of the chaos rather than the winding down of gentle night. Without doing the umpteen million things I should be doing at 2:30 on a Friday the afternoon. Before school assembly. Before the weekend. Before I attend to the stuff I have whirling through my head constantly – holding the reins of so many schedules, routines and ideas.

Not all of them mine.

But to sit on the couch, drink a cup of tea and watch the world. To watch my world. And to see what is before me. Around me. Within me. Without getting involved in what I was watching or what I was seeing.

Without doing anything about it at all.

I looked out onto brown tomato vines under an overgrown hedge. To a scratched out, crapped out chicken coop and 2 un-walked dogs. There was a load of wet washing in the machine mirrored with the promise of a meal-less evening. But I pressed that all back. Even though it kept trying to lift me from my seat and drag me from my staring.

To take me from my 5 minutes of allowing myself to be not doing.

Even though there was loads to be done.

Think restorative poses, yin lateral folds and bahari kumbhaka.

When was the last time you congratulated yourself for staring at the overgrown grass that should have been mowed last week? Or said “1, 2, 3, well done me” for leaving wet school uniforms in the machine that you knew weren’t going to dry in time? Or high-fived yourself for buying the cake instead of baking it? For giving your smalls breakfast cereal for dinner? For sleeping too late?For turning things off?

For tuning things inward.

The state of not doing is so different to doing nothing. It is in the ‘not doing’ that we find purpose beyond the mediocre. It is in the ‘not doing’ that we keep our minds fresh for the present. It is in the ‘not doing’ that we unravel the complexities and the simplicities, the learned and the instinctual, the cyclic and the static.

It is in the ‘not doing’ that we remember what it is to be alive for fullest potential of each moment. To allow rather than to do, in letting rather than making, in stopping rather than achieving. It is here that we the have the time to dance in the graceful space between the two.

Or tuck our legs up around ourselves for 5 minutes and sip tea quietly on the couch.


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