The Skill Of Doing Nothing

by CYDNEY COFFEY, CSU Communications Graduate Assistant 


This past week, I encouraged everyone to tap into their kindness. The focus was: ‘All time can be “me time.”’ Our days are packed to the max with responsibilities and tasks and that can tend to get overwhelming at times. It is all too familiar to feel that we do not have nearly enough time for ourselves in our over-scheduled lives. Trust me, I can relate. Sometimes I find that I need more than twenty-four hours in my day in order to complete what I have on my to do list.

This is where our “me time” comes into play. While we all have hectic schedules, it is essential that we make time for ourselves in our jam-packed days. “You can cultivate “me time” by establishing mindfulness in your body by means of a steady awareness of your breath or your posture” (Rohan Gunatillake). By being aware of your breath and/or your posture, you are choosing to make all time your time. You might notice that you are developing your own superpower by doing this!

No matter what you are doing, if you can set aside time to connect yourself to some aspect of your physical experience, you are already working toward being present around the clock.

“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.”

l.r. knost

Consistently thinking about upcoming tasks can become stressful, real quick. I sometimes have dreams about tasks I need to accomplish. I find myself working to focus my attention on just being relaxed. I might set aside time for myself to watch a TV show or a movie and during this time I tell myself that it is relaxing, but yet I find myself thinking about all of the other things I have to do and when I am going to do them.

Lake Superior, Minn.

It wasn’t until I took a camping trip to Lake Superior where I realized how calming it is to sit and do nothing. This was my first time tent camping and the perfect time to go since it was peak season. I was excited, but in the back of my mind, I was worried about all of my tasks. To add to this worry, I was forced to disconnect from the world, as there was no service where we were. The idea of going somewhere for the weekend and not being able to check my email or complete some of my tasks was nerve-racking, to say the least. Fortunately, my mind did not have too much time to wander since our days were filled with exploring and hiking. Our campsite was right on Lake Superior. The sound of the waves hitting the rocks was soothing to the mind.

Lake Superior, Minn.

One morning I decided to go lay out on one of the rocks in the lake. I just sat there and tapped into all my senses. As I laid on the rock, my hand drifted onto the wet, uneven rock that glistened from the waves as they slowly returned to the lake. The waves were peacefully crashing into the rocks as if they were dancing to a beat. My strawberry cheesecake protein shake lingered in my mouth, satisfying my stomach. The smell of breakfast being cooked nearby, over a bonfire, permeated my nose. My gaze loosely floated towards the sun as it shimmered on the never-ending Lake Superior. It was beautiful. In those moments of laying on the rock, I was able to clear my mind of my stress, and boy was that comforting to sit and do nothing.

This upcoming week, I am encouraging everyone to tap into rest and balance. The focus is the skill of doing nothing. This is one of those skills that is easier said than done. Last week’s practice talked about cultivating “me time,” but this week we will be talking about cultivating calm. Doing nothing can be a pleasing way to cultivate calm once you get the hang of it. Surprisingly, doing nothing requires energy.

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.”

Winnie the pooh

To tap into the skill of doing nothing, I challenge you all to practice taking ten minutes out of your day, a few days a week, and step away from your active life. Let yourself settle in to doing… nothing. Work to clear your mind. Let whatever is happening around you run its course, instead of engaging and giving it more fuel. “By staying steady and letting everything run out of gas, you can start to notice what remains once the dust has settled. Rest with it” (Rohan Gunatillake).


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