Discover the Art of Doing Nothing

It’s a crisp Sunday morning and I’m sitting on my patio, sipping coffee and doing nothing but taking in the beauty of the forest and mountains. I’m not listening to music, checking email or social media, or making notes for my next post.

I’m doing absolutely nothing.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point. I can waste time with the best of them, but doing nothing with purposeful intention is an entirely different experience, one that comes with an impressive list of benefits.

Mastering the art of doing nothing is not as easy as one might imagine.

It’s common in today’s crazy busy world to feel time-starved, yet most of us fill a good chunk of our days with activities and distractions like watching TV, checking email, texting, endlessly scrolling through social media and assorted general busyness. We might even try to convince ourselves these activities are relaxing, minor when compared to work or other obligations, but if your attention is required (and very likely divided by some form of multitasking), then these activities are nevertheless draining your energy.

The Benefits of Doing Nothing

In our productivity-obsessed world, we tend to snub our noses at the notion of spending time doing absolutely nothing or simply letting our mind wander. But rather than being lazy or selfish, periods of doing nothing (on purpose) can calm frayed nerves and melt away stress, boost energy and creativity, and make you more focused and productive when you do work.

I’ve always considered the morning walk I take with my dog Lucy to be relaxing, my time to do nothing but think and enjoy nature. But once I began paying attention I realized it was something quite different. Lucy is a curious bundle of high energy. She takes in every sight and sound, rushing from one discovery to another and if I don’t watch her every minute she will quickly scarf down any yummy surprises she finds on the ground along the trails where we hike.

An invitation to a nasty case of diarrhea.

Then there is her inherent dislike of other dogs. In a town known for its love of fur puppies, it’s not uncommon to come across other people on the trail with their dogs.

Things can get ugly fast if I’m not on guard.

As if there isn’t enough already going on in my head, I often come up with answers to problems or ideas for new posts so I carry a notepad with me to jot these little epiphanies down. My point is that even the most enjoyable activity can create a low level of stress that saps our energy.

Each of us needs to occasionally withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. We need time to wander aimlessly or sit on a park bench, to breathe and observe the mysteries of the world.

An Easy Way to Begin

There is no right or wrong way to the art of doing nothing, and you don’t need to set aside a lot of time. You’ll be amazed at the benefits you’ll enjoy from practicing just ten to fifteen minutes a day. Keeping this in mind, I’d like to share with you a yoga pose that is a super simple way to get started. All you do is lie on your back on the floor (or a nice cushy exercise mat) with your legs up against the wall. That’s it, you just try to clear your mind, relax and lie like that for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

It’s helpful to see how to get into position so I’ve included a link to a tutorial video at the end of the post.

As simple as it is, this is a powerful restorative pose that helps send blood flow to your core, eases stress, does wonders for back pain, helps you sleep, calms your nerves, relieves swollen ankles, varicose veins, and headaches and improves digestion.

At first, I felt pretty antsy, thinking about all of the things I should be doing, occasionally wondering why I was doing this, and even had a clock sitting next to me to keep track of the time, which I quickly realized pretty much defeated the whole purpose of the exercise. It took about a week before I began to fully relax and actually found myself looking forward to these brief sessions.

What I love about this simple practice of self-care is that you can do it any time of the day or night. If the only quiet time you have is after your family goes to bed you can still reap the full benefits. In fact, I now do this twice a day, as a mid-day break and just before bed and I find it relaxes me so much I’m able to drop off to sleep much faster than I used to.

Closing Thoughts

Instead of counting the days until the weekend or your next vacation, imagine what a difference it would make to your quality of life if you treated a moment of doing nothing like an actual event rather than an afterthought?

You can turn grabbing a quick cup of coffee into a moment of renewal by stepping outside to enjoy just ten minutes of fresh air, savor the flavor of the coffee. Truly enjoy the moment.

Maybe the next time you find yourself waiting in a line or at the doctor’s office, instead of using your free moments to check email one last time or scroll through social media, try to do nothing but focus on your breathing or simply let your mind wander.

What can you do today to begin embracing the art of doing nothing?

Related reading:
Video tutorial:
Will you be the passenger of the drive in your life journey?

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Marquita Heraldhttps://www.emotionallyresilientliving.com/
Marquita is a transformational author, coach, founder, and chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. Her message is that resilience isn’t an umbrella to be reserved for a rainy day and you don’t need to wait until you are facing a major life change or crisis to claim the power and authority you have to create the quality and course of your life. In every way that matters, resilient living is a lifestyle choice. Through her blog, books, courses, and coaching, she provides insights, inspiration and a wealth of personal experience as a roadmap to grow through life’s inevitable challenges. Marquita makes her home in Oregon and loves red wine, rock n' roll, hiking, road trips, peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
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Joel Elveson

I find the idea of setting aside time to simply do nothing extremely wrong not to mention potentially dangerous. No there is nothing wrong with going for walks, reading, etc, sitting but you should do something. My mother (of blessed memory)as she aged into her 90″s withdrew from the world. She did not go out not even to her next-door neighbor who was always inviting her to come in. Except for occasionally listening to the radio basically did NOTHING other than a rare meal and sleeping every hour of the day for the last few years of her life! My sister and I to this day regret that we never bought her a computer so she could have the internet where she could interact and have people, know what is going on in the world in her while sitting home. At least she would have had something. Have you ever visited Nursing Home where the halls are lined with senior in wheelchairs just sitting there doing nothing as senility has taken over? One of my dearest and closest friend is a man I worked with many years ago who is now in his 70’s. His feeling is that there will be plenty of time to sleep or do nothing after he dies. I happen to agree with him. We as humans need to think to be conversational, etc. Not keeping our minds (not to mention our body’s) active promotes the process of decay.

Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler

I find quiet moments. A space where I can hear a bird sings or watch a duck swim across the pond. I am not sure we can do nothing because if we embrace life it is filled with living. Enjoyed your story and will be sharing.

Kathleen Hendrickson
Kathleen Hendrickson

I find quiet moments essential to my well being. It is in the quiet moments that my courses of action are most clear. It has worked for me for many years.

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