Have you allowed yourself to do nothing for a couple of seconds today? How long has it been since you allowed yourself to just be for a short while? We live with this constant doing mentality. There is no time to stop, we go from here to there, and, once we get there, it is already time for the next thing. I call it juggling; it really feels like juggling when you have many tasks to accomplish and places to be at the same time. And so we accept that hectic routine as the regular rhythm for our days. Therefore, most people are not used to stopping. It is easy to notice how annoyed people can get when they have to stop during the day and are forced to do nothing. That happens, for instance, when someone is in a car in the middle of a traffic jam in a highway. That person might be on his way home, to eat dinner with family or maybe just to sit down in front of a TV and start to doze off. No matter what, people just get annoyed to have to stop and do nothing, to just be. When a person has to sit at the waiting room in the doctor’s office is another example. If he has nothing scheduled after that, allowing himself to simply be there waiting would make things a bit easier.
It is impressive the number of people who don’t know how to do nothing for just a couple of seconds. I was one of them. My mother is still one of them despite all my attempts to slow things down, and even sometimes do things for her to relieve her of some chores. Recently, I brought my mother along to enjoy vacation time with me, my husband and our kids. At the hotel pool, I remember her asking me the second day we were there, “now what to do I do?” I replied, “Nothing. Just that. Do nothing, and enjoy it!” She seemed puzzled, but decided to stop asking, because she sensed she wouldn’t get the response she was expecting. A few days later, one of my kids had a stomach ache, and she volunteered to stay with her grandchild in the room for a few hours or until she felt better. Time passed, and the room keeper came to clean the room while they were inside. My mother and my sick child then moved to the veranda so the lady could clean the room. Meanwhile, my mom saw her broom leaning on the wall and… she started sweeping the floor! My kid even took a picture of her doing that, which seemed to be a relief from grandma out of the nothing-to-do game! I think that trip was the first one for her to experience serious relaxation for a week at least. I am thankful for being able to provide her that. But do not think I am deluded, I am sure she went back to her hectic days as quickly as she could after she got back home; and I don’t blame her. That is what she is used to, except now she has tasted the “just being” feeling; she knows there is calmness, a sense of peace and non-rushing that is available to us all the time, if we just allow ourselves to feel it.
The example above is referring to slowing down life for a couple of days during vacation time, but my point is you can slow down each day and regroup yourself even in the midst of craziness. You just need to stop for a few seconds, and observe life. People will try many different ways to avoid being still. They will say random things just to break silence or they create barriers out of nowhere to block the emptiness of certain moments. This time I am not even talking about their minds, which hold thoughts almost all the time (I already wrote about it in previous posts). This time I am writing about physical escapes from doing nothing. Some people cough, others tap fingers on a desk while the computer loads a program, others scratch places even though there is no real itch. You can always find something to do, but next time you are in a nothing-can-be-done situation, try to sit back and observe what your mind will come up with for you to do and just watch it pass. I am not saying you should ignore a mosquito biting you (it is not supposed to be some kind of torture!), but that sudden itch on your right arm or neck… is it real or simply some movement your body is craving for at that moment? Allow some mindfulness to happen, and it can teach you so much about yourself. I will love to hear feedback, if you try it someday.