Can we allow ourselves to just be? To just do nothing without any goal or judgement?
I’ve mentioned before how I really struggled when I began to practise meditation several years ago as I thought I was a TERRIBLE failure. My mind wandered constantly and I was overcome with urges to get up and do something, anything rather than just nothing! It was only after years of study that I realised that that is exactly what our minds are supposed to do. Our brains are amazingly wonderful. They are more complex than any computer and orchestrate our multi-faceted, self healing, self mending human bodies. Human civilization has reached a point where it has been able to fly to the moon, connect across the globe via the world web wide and other far reaching scientific advances. Our brains are programmed to think and to plan. They are the machines that keep us safe, keep us alive from one moment to the next. Every one of us is a genius problem solver and survival of the fittest has ensured we are just that. Only our most problem solving ancestors would have survived, the ones who were able to recognise danger and plan and outwit. The ones who worked out the best routes to food and the best way to keep safe from predators. We’re now left with a primeval brain in a modern world. We no longer need to run from sabre tooth tigers or spend every waking moment foraging for food but our brain doesn’t know this.
Our minds are so used to planning, doing and being active that so many of us find it hard not to. It feels like a human instinct for many of us and there’s a Buddhist saying that ‘a busy mind is a lazy mind’. Meaning it’s easy to keep going, to focus on our thoughts, think about our yesterdays and plan for our tomorrows and one of the greatest challenges of mindfulness can be to just do nothing. It can feel so unnatural, so self indulgent and a huge waste of time but I honestly believe that we need that space. We need time to unwind and to process the chaos and noise around us.
Reading this, your mind is probably already trying to solve this problem work out why you don’t have time to do nothing, preparing your excuses; you have kids, you have work, you have busy lives etc but it can just be a minute or two; the couple of minutes it takes waiting for the kettle to boil or five minutes waiting for your train. Just create a space, a moment in time where you just stop and notice. There is no need to go looking for anything or try and fix anything, instead just be. Notice your breathing, your body, and the sounds, sights and smells around you. And all of this without judgement. If a thought or sensation comes along then acknowledge it but don’t just on that thought train, just let it pass and return to being.
I try and incorporate a 10 minute nature ‘just sitting practice’ into my day. I sit on my garden bench and notice my garden, noticing the plants, the apple tree, the breeze on my face and the sky above me. There are often urges to criticise or yearn for something different; my fence needs usually needs painting, the grass is too long or I preferred it when the tree was in blossom but I just try and those thoughts go and return to the world around me. Throughout the year I notice as the garden changes, from one season to the next. Is there somewhere you could have a sitting space? Even if you don’t have a garden, a balcony or even just from your window? Mindfulness and nature can bring real happiness.
A good place to start it with the breath. Just take 3 long slow breaths, with each out breath gradually slowly than the last. It’s a good way to bring our awareness from the mind and down to our body. Then begin to just notice. Notice without judgement and without trying to find anything. That’s all.
And remember mindfulness is known as mindfulness practice for a reason. None of us are perfect at it. There’s a Buddhist saying that meditation can never be wrong and can never be right. Each practice will be different, just like each day is different and each moment is different from the last.
Love & light, The Happy Bee x