Are you able to pause the on-going doing-ness of your life, even for one moment? What do you think would happen if you did?
In our society, time has become one of our greatest stressors. At some stages of our lives -frequently for many of us - there is never enough time to do what we need to do. Often we don’t know where the time has gone; the years pass by so rapidly. At other stages, time may go by slowly, with us not knowing what to do with all the time available to us. Whether you are suffering from too much or too little time, try intentional non-doing. This may sound absurd. My challenge to you however, is to test this proposal in your own life, to see for yourself whether your relationship to time can be transformed through this practice of non-doing. You may also find that you are more present to the journey of your lives, from moment-to-moment.
It is not easy to fit this pause-action into our lives. You may find that most of the time you are really on “automatic pilot,” functioning mechanically, without being fully aware of what you are doing or experiencing. It is as if you are only half awake. Non-doing has nothing to do with being languid or sedentary. Quite the contrary. It takes a significant amount of determination and willingness to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in movement. Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way.
It may sound strange my challenging you to not-do when either there is too little time or alternatively you have “more time on your hands” than you wish. How does this work? Well, the answer to this is quite simple- inner peace exists outside time. There is no salvation in time. You cannot be free in the future.
“Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now” – Eckhart Tolle
Committing yourself to step out of time during the day, whether it is two or five or ten minutes, allows you to transform your experience of time when you go back into it. You then provide yourself with the opportunity to flow along with time rather than feel driven by it or fighting against it.
The more you practice making some time in your day for non-doing, the more your whole day becomes non-doing; in other words your doing becomes infused with an awareness grounded in the present moment.
Compare non-doing to a pause in music. A pause is not a lack of music; it is an integral part of the composition. If a conductor does not hold a pause to its full value, it is like a gunshot firing through a silent night. As Claude Debussy has said, “Music is the space between the notes”.
There is one certain criterion for which you can measure your success in this practice: the degree of peace you feel within.
Take any routine activity that normally is a means to an end and giving it your full attention, so that it becomes an end in itself. For example, every time you get into your car and close the door, allow yourself to pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath. Or, when waking in the morning, instead of jumping out of bed, become aware that you are awake, feel your body lying in the bed, feel the various sensations occurring in your body, note any thoughts and feelings that may be present. Can you feel yourself breathing? Can you enjoy the feeling of your breath entering your body at this moment? Ask yourself: “Am I awake now?”
By Craig Henen
Executive Coach and Supervisor