Can you imagine yourself doing absolutely nothing for 5 full minutes? I thought it would be a nice challenge for you to try out. Especially women seem to suffer from the always-doing-something affliction, scouting things that still need to be done. Men apparently have a nothing box that they can go to with a ‘gone fishing’ sign on it; but even then….they’ve gone fishing.
Humans seem to have a problem when it comes to doing absolutely nothing. We have brains that constantly keep us on the go. Just imagine cats or dogs having a brain like that. Would they be able to sleep the amount of hours that they do if they did have the ability to think things over? Cats and dogs react on instinct.
Humans don’t have that convenience. Humans constantly measure, interpret, compare. Everything they see is negotiated. What comes first? How much will I gain? What should I do in order to get what I want? We are all constantly thinking.
For most people; even when they meditate, they do the meditation. They put on a CD or go to a class and listen to words guiding them to the sanctuary within. A good place to start for sure but also difficult with a consumer society brain that is turned on 24/7, to evaluate things.
A hilarious example from Kripalu Yoga teacher Stephen Cope tells the story of someone who, in the middle of meditation class bursts out in anger after observing the other meditating group members through his eyelashes. It seemed everyone around him was serene and emerged in stillness while his mind kept mulling over all sorts of things from past, present and future. Once he shares his feelings of frustration with the group; the other members admit, they too have difficulty letting go of judgment and evaluation while observing themselves and the thoughts that pass before their minds eye.
A do/think absolutely nothing exercise given to me once by my mentor Cees van der Kroef, was to look at a painting without thinking anything of it. Simply see the painting. Observe it without judging it. You may establish which colors are in it and what it portrays but refrain from having a verdict, such as liking, loving or disliking it. Step out of Facebook-mode for a while. You’ll find this to be surprisingly difficult but once mastered it’s a wonderful practice that will help you to sit back and relax. Once practiced on paintings; you can move on to situations involving people and stress triggers.
Of course some things are unthinkable and will always trigger emotions, but many of the triggers we respond to on a daily basis are really better left ignored and will thus give some peace of mind.
Conclusion: Switch of your brain when it comes to judgment. The world will become a better place because of it.
Ingrid Schippers, 22-01-2018
Click on the card to learn more about its background
The spoken version of this blog, features as end note on ‘Dutchbuzz’, the radio hour for Internationals every Tuesday from 10 to 11 pm on ‘Den Haag FM and can be found in the Programme Archive of the Dutchbuzz podcasts, dated January 23rd 2018
Blog picture: Me at 17 practicing doing absolutely nothing