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!