Making Peace with Doing Nothing
Are you ever sick, exhausted or unmotivated to do all those things on your to-do list, but taking time to actually stop and crash seems impossible?
If this happens to you, know you are not alone. Many people fall pray to the dictations of their “inner slave driver” who won't let then slow down. For most of us, doing “the Holy Something”, as my teacher Martha Beck calls it, is always preferable to doing nothing. Even doing the Cursed Something is better than the Holy Nothing. We live in a culture where action is worshipped. Even when drained completely, we feel a nagging pressure to keep doing, be productive, never stop.
Despite being all savvy about this stuff, I, too, struggle with my own inner voice that urges me to keep moving, accomplish, check things off my list, go go go. This winter I consciously slowed down to honor my need for “doing nothing”. I knew I needed it after a year of big life changes, being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, as well as being pregnant with my third child! I took naps, used deeply restorative tools from my tool box, constructed a more manageable to do list, lessened my expectations, and got coaching around being peaceful with accomplishing less. Then spring came, my second trimester hit, and I decided I could push ahead again.
But perhaps I needed a bigger lesson… A few weeks ago I got sick. It seemed like just a cold, so I didn't slow down. It turned into a fever and the worst cough I have ever had. I spent days lying in bed. And it felt good: the illness had melted my resistance to staring at the wall and drooling (as one good friend describes his favorite way of doing the Holy Nothing).
Getting sick, or the “Path of Suffering” as Martha calls it, is one way our bodies ensure that we listen to them when the need for rest grows strong. But isn't there a less painful way? How do we stop letting the voice of our inner slave driver deny our true need to chill? Here are 3 keys to help you feel at peace when the need to crash calls:
1) You’re used to denying your need, even unable to hear your body's call to take a break. To fix this, throughout the day keep a pulse on your energy level. Get in the habit of asking yourself “how am I feeling?” This will reprogram you to start to listen to your body's wisdom, rather than be at the mercy of the slave driver.
2) Challenge those old ingrained rules! We're not Puritans anymore. If you sense a big dip in your energy, question your thoughts: Every time you hear the little voice in your mind yelling “don't stop!”, notice that it is just a thought, not a dictate from God or your higher self.
3) Resting, or doing the Holy Nothing, is actually vital to our ability to be active. Remind your mind of the immense benefits of rest ( the mind like logic, so give it what it wants). When you feel that familiar resistance, choose a few of the below to say to yourself:
~ Rest restores the creative mind and integrates experiences so I can actually access and apply what I learned it. ~ Bad moods vanish and relationships improve when I am relaxed and rested. ~ Rest returns me to my calm, clear, creative, and connected state. When confusion clears, decisions become easy. ~ “Doing nothing is the most productive activity you will ever undertake."-Martha Beck
Of course, the very the best antidote for a slave-driver mind is actually taking a mini-vacation from thinking, and noticing the effects and power that rest has. Experience is the best teacher. In the next Uplift newsletter I will teach you some easy ways to quickly rest and replenish mind, body, and soul so you can return to your life reinvigorated and clear.
The act of allowing ourselves time for true replenishment needs to be an ongoing never-ending part of life (as is illustrated by my experience of getting sick because I didn't slow down enough when the need called). It must be integrated into our daily life. The less we allow our inner slave driver to run the show, the more we can be receptive to our own true need to do the Holy Nothing. It is then that we will be more effective, efficient, and joyful in our lives and relationships.