When was the last time you actually did nothing? Not the “busy” type of nothing that involves zoning out in front of the TV or sitting on public transit on your commute to work — but actual nothing that involves no activity and no goal.
You’re not actively or passively trying to get somewhere, you’re not trying to achieve something, and you’re not filling your head with distractive thoughts. You’re just existing and breathing.
This is the type of “doing nothing” that modern society typically frowns upon. After all, what’s the point? It makes it sound like just a lazy way to waste time.
Doing nothing, however, can be one of the most healing practices. Here’s why.
1. It’s an Opportunity for Mindfulness
Mindfulness is simply the state of being aware. When you sit and do nothing, you’ll naturally to notice things like your thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and whatever is in your external environment. Do this often enough and mindfulness will become a greater part of your life even when you’re busy doing things.
2. It’s Grounding
Being busy puts you in a state where you’re constantly focused on what you need to achieve for the future. It’s a whole lot of doing and not enough being. Doing nothing brings you back to the present and frees you from the never-ending race toward goal achievement.
3. It’s Stress-Relieving
It’s a lie that you have to be doing something in order to relieve stress. When you take the time to simply do nothing, you free up all the energy your mind and body has been using to do all sorts of other things. The mind and body are designed to keep you healthy and well, and you can help that process along by doing nothing.
4. It Get You in Touch With Your Intuition
Intuition is feeling. But because we’re always bombarded with thoughts being triggered by everything that’s occurring in our external environments, we often fall far out of touch with our intuitive feelings. Doing nothing is a simple way to regain that lost connection.
5. It Helps Release Suppressed Emotions
Doing nothing may not always be a peaceful experience. Without as much external stimuli distracting you from your inner world, your body may take it as an opportunity to bring up emotions that went unfelt long ago and were suppressed. While it may be painful and scary, it’s healthy to release them.
Doing Nothing As a Mindfulness Meditation Practice
Doing nothing is essentially a mindfulness meditation practice. If you’ve been wary of starting a mindfulness meditation practice because you’re not sure what to think of it, think of it this way — it’s just doing nothing.
There’s no trying. There’s no doing. There’s nothing to achieve. You simply set aside some time to just be where you are as you are while you notice whatever’s happening in and around you.
Doing nothing is best done in a calm, quiet environment ideally where you can be in solitude (like a room in your house or somewhere outside) where there aren’t too many environmental distractions. Keep your eyes closed or open, sit however you like, and let yourself surrender to the nothingness of the present moment.