Is It Possible To Do Nothing?
SPECIAL NOTE (or warning:-) TO MY READERS: This post uses “do”, “doing”, “nothing” and “not” an inordinate amount of times. My wish is that though inordinate, their use is still appropriate. :-)
I was feeling a little “under the weather” recently and during that time I decided to do nothing. No, I was not bedridden, nor was I experiencing any severe discomfort. I just thought that if I did nothing for a few days, I would give my body a chance to fight off whatever was causing me to be under the weather. Also, I did a post recently in which I posed the question, “Is nothing free?” That post caused me to think a lot about the meaning of the word “nothing.” I’m sure it had a little something to do with the inspiration for this one.
Since I am a blogger, it seemed appropriate to spend my “doing nothing” time reading blogs and writing down some ideas for future postings. While I was doing that, I started thinking about the question I posed in the title, “Is it possible to do nothing?” You see, even though most of the time I thought I was doing nothing, in reality, I was reading, blogging, organizing and doing some minor maintenance around the house. Is that doing nothing? Not really!
Suppose you sit down and not move your body. After you are as still as you can possibly be, are you doing nothing? Probably not. What about your mind? Is it doing nothing? Even if you try not to think about anything, you still need to think about not thinking about anything. Wow!
I have often wondered what people think about when they are meditating. I have read that some people say they think about nothing while meditating. How do they do that? Have you ever tried to think about nothing? Not about the word “nothing,” but about what the word implies. Even when you do that, you aren’t literally thinking nothing.
When we think about what the word nothing implies, and think about nothing, we try to make our minds have no thoughts. But, when we do that we are consciously thinking about clearing our minds and therefore, we are not thinking about nothing. WOW! So it seems that it is impossible to do nothing when we are “doing” with our mind.
If thinking is an act of doing something, then it is impossible to do nothing. So, since we can’t really do nothing, what should we strive for when trying to rest, meditate, relax, vegetate, …? I think we should strive to be in a state of not doing.
Instead of doing nothing, we should just be not doing. Actually, I think that is what happens when we sleep. We enter a state of not doing. I think there is a subtle, but important difference between trying to do nothing and not doing.
To do nothing is impossible, but not doing means we constantly reject anything that causes us to do something. For example, when I was feeling “under the weather” and decided to do nothing, I still chose to do things that I thought would allow my body to rest. I did things that weren’t stressful. I really couldn’t do nothing.
When we decide to do nothing, we don’t really mean what we say. I think we mean that we are going to slow down, break our normal routine and rest. Do nothing is a misnomer. But, not doing is a dynamic statement that focuses on considering the rejection of every physical and mental action we encounter. This is what allows us to sleep. In fact, I think it’s an excellent mind-set for sleep. If you want to go to sleep, don’t try to do nothing, but instead, try not doing. :-)
Whether you are doing nothing or not doing, I would sincerely appreciate a comment.