The Joy Diet ~ Much Ado About Nothing

Kayak maneuvering turbulent water

Doing Nothing sure does take a lot of work.

For the last week, I’ve been attempting to do Nothing for 15 minutes a day. I’m doing this along with at least 75 other wiley women who are reading and blogging about Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet. This is Week One.

My biggest noticing: It’s impossible to do Nothing unless I start with Something.

The Something that Martha Beck suggests is basic meditation. Sitting and watching the mind. If that’s too hard, she recommends picking a repetitive task to do in order to help ease the mind into Nothing.

Throughout my life I’ve tried numerous Nothing practices. Buddhist meditation. Sufi prayer. Quaker meetings. Christian contemplation. Each time I’ve loved, and then lost, the practice.

The Raging River of My Mind

This time, I decided to give myself a very concrete assignment: pretend that I’m sitting on the banks of a river watching the contents of my mind flow by. Just sit back and watch the raging flood waters.

Except that, instead of watching the waters, I’m usually in the water, clinging to a broken tree branch of thought as the waters sweep me mercilessly down stream.  On better days, at least I get a paddle and a kayak to help me maneuver the twists and turns of my rapid thoughts.

Occasionaly I catch myself. Crawling back onto the banks of the river, I label the thought as a “thought” and try valiantly again to be the dispassionate observer.

Before long, though, I’m back in those turbulent thought waters. And so it goes. Onto the banks. Into the water. Onto the banks. Into the water.

Shakespeare was right: There’s Much Ado About Nothing.

What My Uncle Said

One time I was driving with my aunt and uncle. We were silent for a while, and my aunt asked her husband, “What are you thinking?” “Nothing,” he answered. Neither of us believed him.

I have no idea what it’s like to truly be thinking about Nothing. Since then I’ve checked in with other men, and most of them agree that occassionaly they experience Nothing without even trying. Jealous!

The iPhone App That’s Changing My Life

Half way through the week I was worried that, without clear accountability, I wouldn’t follow through with 15 minutes a day. So I bought an iPhone app to help me record all my Nothing time.

What a revolutionary idea! Seriously!!! Even on days when I felt too tired to meditate, I’d think, “But what about my app!?”

And so I would sit. Without struggle. On the river banks. For fifteen minutes. Just so I could record it in my app. Whatever it takes.

Next Week’s Assignment

Next up on the Joy Diet agenda: Truth. We’re supposed to keep on doing Nothing, but add “Truth” into the mix. Can’t wait to find out what that refers to?!

It’s not too late to join us, if you’re curious too. Buy the book here, and then go to Jamie’s Blog to join in.  If you don’t have a blog on which to post your own reflections, feel free to use the comments section of my blog. I’m happy to host.

Hugs to one and all!

9 thoughts to “The Joy Diet ~ Much Ado About Nothing”

  1. I too felt like I was in the raging river and then back on the bank as I tried to bring my mind back to “Nothing”. It is not an easy thing to do but at least we will have fun trying.

  2. Your visualization is wonderful…I could feel being in that river. As for men thinking about nothing…it’s amazing how they can do that and just “switch off” — they, unlike women, feel no guilt about doing nothing and thinking about nothing. We could take a page from them!

  3. I had to laugh!
    Men are always good in clearing their minds, I think. Women can’t do that, it’s biological, because they always have their minds open to a child’s call, I think.
    I remember a phone call I had one day with an old friend. His toddler was all the time shouting in the back: “Daddy, I want candy, Daddy I WANT CAAAAAAAAAAANDDDDDDDDDYYYYYYYY!”
    It was really annoying. After a little talk, I said to him: “Please give that child a candy!” And he said: “Hm? What’s up? What does she want?!” He hadn’t even heard it!!!!!!!!!!Can you imagine that?
    Wonderful nothing in men’s brains and ears 😉
    So no wonder, I once read in a book: “If you asked your partner, what he’s thinking of and he answers NOTHING, plese believe him, it’s true!” 😉
    Have a great week!

  4. I love the description of the raging river. It is so familiar and yet so uniquely your experience.

    Thanks for being my link into this adventure. I don’t think we’ve ever played together. I left the Bay Area before I started seeing your name in all sorts of InterPlay related things. I’m sure I saw a link to your blog in something Cynthia sent out. Since I have no physical InterPlay community at the moment, I keep tabs on virtual community and I love your writing and videos about InterPlay.

  5. I have reserved the Joy Diet at our library! But will just read it on my own. probably.

    I can successfully do nothing for what I try to have be 3-5 minutes while lying in the tub. Usually that morphs into blessing family members one by one, or thoughts of the day. Even when rushed I force 60 seconds of nothing to occur. I have had nothing on my mind tho- go into the alpha state of being. Pleasant. I can also do a “just being” state sitting with a dog, or a goat, or in the old days walking with a psychically in synch llama behind me. Lovely.

  6. Before I, as a man, started meditating seriously, I used to say occasionally that I was not thinking about anything. But once I started to sincerely watch what was going on, I realized that in those places I was thinking about things, just nothing I considered important enough to notice. Now after 10+ years of practice I often get to a place of no … Read Morethought for a while, but not always. Have you discovered all of the different forms of thought that are possible? External sounds, internal dialog, tactile feelings, visceral feelings, emotional feelings, internal and external images, It is amazing to me how many there are. Look forward to reading your posts as you do this.

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