Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Doing "Nothing"

In any situation, we have a choice: to go through the motions, or to do whatever we are doing with awareness of ourselves in the moment. Now, I can be aware of my fingers on the keyboard and my pelvis as I sit and my breathing as it comes in and out and the sound of the keys being touched. I can be aware of my feet on the floor and the possible differences from the right foot and the left.

This is neither good nor bad, though I can be aware of a tendency to think: this is good. This is gooder, to be aware.

It is different though. And I like the difference, so I have the choice to go with awareness since I like being in this state.

You do, too, obviously and this has occurred to you, gentle reader, as you’ve read the above words.


To be in this moment gives us some delightful options, but one of those options is not to “do nothing.”

This is a bit of a twist we are going to go about here, because, as a life principle: doing nothing, as opposed to living our usual running around like a chicken with its head cut off kind of living, is much recommended.

There is the clever Buddhist book with a title: Just don’t Do Something, Sit There. This makes fun of the usual line: don’t just sit there, do something. And here’s the core of what I’m getting at today: to Sit There is to do something.

Actually, to sit there instead of rushing around, is to do two things: one, to stop the rushing around, and two, to be aware of ourselves in the “sitting there” state.

This is the meditation game: stop the rush, sit, notice the present while you sit. This is the Feldenkrais game: stop the usual habit, and do, slowly, something in many ways that expand awareness of possibilities.

Those of you reading these pages will have noticed that, as of yet, I haven’t put in any plugs for meditation per se, but have put in a lot of encouragement for doing anything and everything we do as if it were a meditation.

Even our rushing around, if we can pull that off. This is hard, if we are rushing in the frantic mode where our attention is “getting there,” or “getting this over,” or even the usual brainlessness to the now with our attention on something two things or three things down on our “to do” list.

And still: we can be in a hurry, and be slow inside, we can notice our walking fast while we walk fast, or talking fast while we talk fast, or driving fast while we drive fast.

This is when awareness is super important: to notice our tendencies when we are in a hurry, to not breathe, our tendencies to tense up, our tendencies to use far more physical effort than necessary.

This is how musicians and people at their computers give themselves “carpal tunnel.” They put the kind of effort into their fingers that is meant for the big muscles around the pelvis and in the back and thighs. They forget they have a back and pelvis and thighs that are part of their whole self.

They forget they have feet that are, right now, yes this now as we read this or write this, right now touching or not touching the ground.

Are we grounded? Do we know how our feet and our pelvis and perhaps our elbows or forearms are holding us up in the field of gravity?

Right now. Yes, this now. This one. Now.

So here we are again, again, sweet now, in the moment of gravity and the moment of breathing and awareness of breathing.

Gravity and breath and where is our body: what is the shape of our arms and legs and spine?

Gravity and breath and shape of our five lines (two legs, two arms, one spine) and the light coming in our eyes, right now, and the sounds coming in our ears, right now.

This is the “nothing” at the core of “doing nothing,” having this big gob of awareness on gravity, breath, five lines, light and sound.

Can we do that as an ongoing mediation? Yes. Sometimes. Can we do yoga or take a walk or do a Feldenkrais movement lesson this way?


And if we don’t, we have wasted the chance to delight in the awareness of now. Which is neither good nor bad, but is missing our lives as they are happening, which is sad, isn’t it?

And, when we realize it, an opportuniy to wake up, be aware, and begin to live the rich and full life we were meant to live.


(Note. The essays are rotating through the three blogs, more or less one per day.
So you might want to check:

Tai Chi Yoga Health Weight Loss Joy
Life on Earth ::: Slow Sonoma
for the last two essays.)

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