January 8th, 2015

The art of non-doing

"My life, -
How much more of it remains?
The night is brief."

- Shiki

I've now read multiple posts about how this year will be different to last. They all have one premise: doing. To be precise doing more than...or achieving more than...the previous year (2014).

This is backward.

Our aim, if we have one, should be to do less.

Perhaps it's antithetical to our always 'on', conditioned nature to rest, to sit, to breathe and be, but, if we want to understand who or what we are, there's a case for saying that we won't do so by striving constantly.

As someone who finds it almost impossible to sit still for any length of time (and even when I do not be thinking about what I should be doing), I strain against the premise of doing nothing. Indeed, in becoming the most of anything, it's tempting to believe that that will only come about when we're doing -- vision, goals, tactics and all that stuff.

But I know this is wrong, and fundamentally so. I say so because for a while now I've been observing my behaviour and demeanour, particularly around others. I recognise that when I'm calm, or I slow my speech or I say nothing and listen, then everything and everybody starts to pick up the non-heat of my presence for the better. I know this is not non-doing, but I think it's the first phase of recognising that to find peace in my life, I'm not going to do so by seeking, doing and constantly being tuned in to what needs to be done.

No, I need to do...nothing.

I'm not yet sure yet how I'll embrace this in my ordinary life. I could break out and sit; or I could go for a walk; or I could have a short nap. But I know that I will every day look to find a space where I don't do, and where I bear witness to my thoughts without energising them.

You may be thinking that I've lost the plot or cut across my previous messaging but I don't think so. My concern is that we're so accustomed to doing that we've lost the art of living. It's my belief that if we move in the direction of non-doing and we systematise that as far as possible, then we will see a profound change in our lives; or at least be able to express deeper gratitude for what we have rather than what we don't have.

I've made a diary note to return to this subject in my blog in the next month, and I'll write about my experience in greater detail. I'm hoping that circumstances are such that I don't head in the opposite direction and end up doing more and not less!

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