“Our lives are lived in intense
and anxious struggle, in a swirl of speed
in competing, grasping,
possessing and achieving,
forever burdening ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations.”
Sogyal Rinpoche, Offerings
I recently learned of an author named Wei Wu Wei, whose name translates to mean “doing without doing.” I have not read his material directly, but I’ve read quotes from his work. And this weekend, after my retreat, travels in California, and then my return home to Florida, I realized I was out of balance. It became apparent that I needed to return to that state where I could do without doing. So, that became my intention. But what does it actually mean to do without doing? For me, it means keeping a connection to the deep inner pool of quiet and stillness while at the same time engaging with the world and its incessant demands. To approach tasks from a more spacious, less attached, less anxious, and more centered way; finding a quality of doing that is alive and unforced. Let me give you an example.
I love being in California, I love being on retreat, yet the disengagement from life and the necessary movement of travel requires integration. Integration requires making room and space. Life can get so busy it’s almost as if the momentum of the previous actions continually propels us forward. Yet if we don’t get off the wheel, we don’t disengage, we burn ourselves out. Sunday, there were many things still on the To-Do list, yet I found I had almost no energy to attend to them. Here’s what I did last weekend to help me integrate and unplug:
- I looked at what was on the To-Do list and figured out what was absolutely essential for the day/moment.
Then, looking only at the essential demands, a prioritization was created, and actions were triaged—critical first, important later.
Once every essential item had been attended to (which included communicating some things that would be addressed the following week), I tuned into my body and essence.
Then, I gave my body and inner life exactly what it needed—in my case, resting and laying around.
Every time I thought about attending to a small detail on that list, everything in me said “no.” And so, I repeated the above for about 6 to 7 hours. And what I noticed was that my breathing deepened, my body softened, inspiration arrived, my heart opened, gratitude flowed, mental chatter quieted, and my dear body relished every ounce of this nourishing non-doing.
That rest nourished and replenished me; the following day, I woke up with an enormous amount of creative energy back online. And it is because I allowed myself to swing deeply into the stillness, rest, and recovery. I then moved into greater dynamism, creativity, productivity, and alertness. It has taken me years to learn that deep rest is essential to be highly efficient. I invite you to deliberately take time each week to do nothing on purpose until you can find yourself doing in the atmosphere of non-doing.
“The highest meditation is simply to be”
by Rupert Spira
from Being Aware of Being Aware