So what are your plans for tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations? How about sitting at home and doing absolutely nothing all by yourself? Sound crazy? Read on…
Do you know how to be alone? Think about it, how much time do you actually spend alone, doing nothing? in this modern world full of distraction and stimulus, how do manage to switch off completely and just be? Do we actually ever just sit, without input, without distraction and without external entertainment? It is such a rare activity that I believe the concept of sitting quietly and not thinking or physically or mentally doing anything is becoming a lost art. It is proven to be as powerful as the ancient art of meditation, so how have we successfully managed to remove ourselves from ourselves? How have we found ourselves unable to comfortably exist without consciously practicing the act of simply being?
What is being? It is the time when we are not ‘doing’ or ‘thinking’.
Perhaps this new-age concept of being permanently occupied stems from a consistent overload of thoughts, from anxiety, from stress, from leading a full and busy life and that doing and thinking are the engines of achievement. This has extended to us purposely avoiding our own minds and inviting distraction as a welcome friend.
This digital age provides the symptoms of a modern world designed to defeat our will and hijack our mind with a flood of stimulus engineered to arouse and provoke us into excitement. We are so used to instant gratification in the form of television, music, books, video games, movies at our fingertips via a variety of devices – a consistent flow of reality-escaping options. The problem here is that we don’t deal with our thoughts, we simply avoid them and discard them temporarily in the chasm of our minds. We need to analyse, realise and recognise what it is we are subconsciously avoiding and release it rather than store it away to build up into an unrecognisable mountain of confusion.
Taking some alone time out from the noise is a basic essential for a calm and collected mindset. Those who meditate successfully will tell you that it gives you a deeper sense of self, and gives you the power to be yourself at peace. You don’t have to meditate but doing absolutely nothing by yourself in peace and calm for an allocated amount of time per day will open up so much personal control over your own life. It is a skill urging us towards freedom and finding your inner friend, yourself!
On a psychological level it is extremely beneficial to just be, it regenerates our energy levels, allows us to regain well-being and reconnect us to the world around us. In quiet, our creativity is given space to flow, ideas and inspirations are born, intuition is unbounded, answers spring, blockages are un-blocked, problems are solved. Many discoveries were made accidentally whilst nothing else was happening– gravity; duly noted when an apple fell from a tree, not by hard work and the power of thought but by Newton doing nothing at the time.
Perhaps you are looking for a way to deal with stress, you may be trying to be a more compassionate person, trying to find a balance between work and home, trying to get over a difficult relationship or opening up to seek a new one, trying to write a song. Whatever your outlook or desire, the power of doing absolutely nothing is a strength that allows you to return to your highest brain, without all the noise and restrictors, letting your executive functioning rule over your appetite.
To be. To be alone. Without thought. Without day-dream. Without noise. How do you do this without visiting an ashram in India and sitting with monks for four months?
We must of course recognise that our thoughts are just that; thoughts. Simply recognising that we are not our thoughts and feelings is enough to create the distance needed to tolerate them in peace.The difference between us and our thoughts and feelings is obvious when you ask yourself: who is observing this thought? Who is noticing this feeling? Become the audience for your thoughts rather than a helpless participant. It’s kind of absurd when you think about how we so often imagine a scenario out of thin air then react to it as if it were real in some way. We imagine a family member dying and suddenly we’re overcome with genuine sadness as if there were any substance to the thought, any reality beyond what we’ve created (except of course for our genuine love for that person). To separate ourselves, recognise the distance, and utilise our ability to overcome such negativity or exaggeration of truth will prevent the potential suffering we can inflict on ourselves by these creations.
There is no positive outcome from ruminating on negative possibilities. People so often drown in their own fears, dwelling on past or potential future nightmares which have no gaugeable reality. In extreme circumstances us human beings have been known to turn to extreme powers such as drugs or alcohol to numb and divert our attention. It starts to sound crazy when you put into words that in reality we are just attempting to escape our own creations, our own thoughts, our own minds which we have the power to control and change.
The purpose of doing nothing, to stop, to just be, allows us to let these thoughts pass. Let them simply pass by. Recognise the distress, understand the thought, yet not to react. Allow ourselves time and higher power in order to assess and address such a thought rather than react in a panicked urgency.
This is what we can call freedom. Not to be bound by our immediacy to react, but take stock, take time and have space to consider. To do as you decide to do. Act when you have decided that action is wise, that is true freedom. We need to alter the modern attitude towards inactivity as being lazy and unproductive and recognise it as a necessity to our productivity and wellbeing.
So follow this when you’re wondering how to switch off:
- Banish the guilt about doing nothing
- Wander about aimlessly
- Tinker with an instrument
- Act like it is Sunday (especially on Sunday)
- Lie down in the grass and look up
- Attempt meditation but don’t worry if you think it isn’t working
- Sit in your favourite chair and look out the window
Learn more about Mindfulness and Meditation
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences we offer over 60 holistic therapy courses. All of these courses allow you to become a professional therapist in that field – our courses are accredited in more than 26 countries worldwide. Two of our most popular courses are Meditation and Mindfulness – both are a wonderful addition to a therapist’s portfolio, and also fantastic for any individual who wants to learn a new skill and improve the quality of their life! Find out more about out Meditation Course here, and our Mindfulness Course here.