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 Post subject: How The Art Of Doing Nothing Improves Your Health
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:36 am 
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The Eastern Way: How The Art Of Doing Nothing Improves Your Health
by Laura Turner

How can doing nothing help you? Here's an example. During college, I always dreaded exams. Not because I didn't study for them or feel confident that I'd learned the information, more that I'd decided I wasn't a good "test-taker." I wondered why everyone else seemed to get great grades without losing much sleep and why mine were mediocre and I'd stayed up later. "I want to be sure I've got all the information embedded solidly in my mind," I told myself. Too, I had myself convinced, because I was more of a "right-brained" thinker, my creativity prevented me from doing exceptionally well on science based exams.

After observing my colleagues (the one's I'd decided were simply gifted in test-taking) I'd decided to try something new. I would be as interactive as I could during class, then review what we'd discussed each evening. I would show up being mindful of the information, read the homework and highlight what I thought were the most important ideas. The next day I would do the same, then review my highlights from the day before. When it came time for the exam, I would review my notes thoroughly - one final time - then go to bed and rest. My grades immediately improved.

This made me think - how much of life is simply becoming mindful of our experiences? And how much emphasis am I placing on the "wrong" kinds of thinking? By convincing myself that I wasn't a good test-taker, I'd simply talked myself out of getting the most I could from my experience.

With this in mind: Taoists offer help through Wu Wei. The term as they've defined it means "doing/not doing" or "action/non action." Taoism teaches us that we need to take a significant amount of time doing nothing, to contemplate and to let nature show us the way. It's the idea that less is more and to be fully present we must be the observers of our life, every day. It is, as author Diane Dreher reminds us in her book The Tao of Inner Peace , the way of harmonious action. I started by asking myself if I was really dialed in to my inner self at all times. To me, dialing in is a gut-level reaction to the circumstances at hand. It is taking a mind-ful approach to all of life and devoting a significant amount of time to finding your center. Here's how.

Take Time To Do Nothing.

Take time each day to sit still for several minutes. Observe your breath. Use deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the nose) to bring the body into a state of peace. Studies have shown that nose breathing is both clarifying and invokes a calm in the body unlike any other exercise. When you reach a state of calm - focus on this feeling. Aim to "book mark" it as you would a webpage you enjoy or a phone number in your database. Choose an anchor - an idea, a word, a visual that can take you to this place, then attach the feeling to it.

Later when you are out in your day and in a place where stress shows up, you can easily reach your Tao space by invoking the anchor image in your mind, or creating a body motion that takes you to this state of peace. When stressed, you can always stop what you are doing and take several deep and cleansing nose breaths, as well.

Take Non-Action Vacations Throughout The Day.

When we slow down we can literally get more from the day. When we slow the body - the laws of nature bring us everything we need. Just as we invoke a sweat to cool us in the heat and shiver to warm us from the cold - our energy and the energetic flow of nature works its magic when we are in a peaceful state of mind.

Become Aware Of Your Actions.

This week as you move forward into your life, begin by being mindful. Aim to notice details that you usually overlook. When writing a fictional story, I use as many senses as I can: smell, taste, touch, and sight to enhance the reading experience. Try this yourself. Find something new on the same well-traveled route. If you practice staying focused this week, you should begin to find grounding in your lie. I think you'll find this practice invokes joy, brings the heart to peace and makes your life feel like a new and exciting journey.

Taoist Affirmation

Today is my day to create
I trust, all that is mine will naturally flow to me.
I am tapped not the infinite source, infinite wisdom.
Personal peace is mine and is available to me - always.

I walk forward today, carefully, mindfully.
Today becomes part of my past, and my footprints become
first embedded then solidified.
I walk forward with confidence and in divine intention
knowing that I am an example - and leaving tracks
that lead toward home.

About the Author: Laura M. Turner is a health journalist, author and net-preneur. She hosts Beauty & Body Online: Your Home For Natural Health, Fitness and Creative Abundance. Visit: and sign up for her free eZine, The New Body News and Wellness Letter.

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