The "Do Nothing" Project
This week I focused on the instruction of "doing nothing" and what that meant in my daily life. So I started with taking my earbuds out of my bag. On transit or while walking, I would just be - be on the bus, be on the train, be walking down the street. What I instantly noticed is that my past behavior of listening to a podcast on the way to work, although informative, was also tapping into my nervous system in a way that was essentially draining the well from the bottom. I didn't see it as affecting my auditory cortex, my sensory system, in a negative way.
I also eliminated earbuds from my cycling commutes. Doing so, I was able to fully attend not only to riding but to what was happening on that ride. Yesterday I had the greatest gift of an all-white Magpie flying across my path. When I asked my Elder if this experience held any meaning, she said that it represents the presence of a spirit and is fortunate. Had I been using my earbuds, would I have missed this incredible experience?
I have been sharing my "do nothing" project with others. When I taught at our meditation group this Wednesday, I mentioned it. Around the circle were exclamations of "I'm great at doing nothing!" So I asked, "But are you truly DOING NOTHING?" and the answers were all "no". They were escaping the daily by distracting. This is also what I was doing. It was affirming to see my experience in my group and know that this is an epidemic across our culture.
My teachers have provided the instruction of renunciation. This morning, I looked up the definition of renunciation - a formal rejection of something, an announcement that I no longer support a belief or connection with something. For me, I have chosen to renunciate mindless distractions. I am doing my part to fully experience my world by taking the time to do nothing. From Buddhist writing on the topic, "It is a mind that functions to stop attachment to worldly pleasures and seeks liberation." It is the freedom of not knowing, not doing, that I seek.
So today I woke up early. And as the sun rose, I played the guided meditation that my teacher recorded. I smudged and sat. I felt my hands, my breath. I heard the birds outside. I noticed my thoughts come, as though through dust motes in a sunbeam. Nothing to do here. Nowhere to be. No one to please. Just doing nothing. It was delightful.
Author - April Prescott