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Scheduling time to do… nothing!

A week ago I came back from six days visiting friends and family in Germany. There were two days of manic preparation, then I was off to lead a three-day residential workshop. Two days after our return from the workshop, we drove to Cornwall for some carefree time.

When I had planned this carefree period, I was aware that things might be tight, however, I was not fully aware of the impact. The reality was that I felt mentally worn out.

During the supposedly carefree days, I noticed that I found it difficult to relax and slow down, constantly asking myself: How can I use the spare time and be productive and efficient? Wanting to get as many jobs done as possible so I could enjoy my ‘carefree time’.

I  considered this to be very rational and practical when in reality, I was not able to recover from the previous busy weeks and I was incapable to enjoy my carefree time. This left me feeling tired and frustrated.

Looking back, I lost my ability to listen to my body and my heart. Instead, I was asking, “What can I do next to create space for myself? I need to do something, then I’ll deserve carefree time.”

Is this familiar?

This kind of deserve thinking sounds like a core belief, something I created in the past to make sure that my need for being valued was met. The difficulty was that I was not aware of it.

So I decided to change things and do nothing. By doing ‘nothing’ I found the time to listen to myself, reflect on my thoughts, and come in touch with grief for how difficult it is for me to take care of myself and allow myself to do nothing.

In this moment of self-connection, I came in touch with warmth. I could sense self-love and self-valuing. As I got in touch with myself I could slowly refill my energy tanks. Wow! There was a way to recover and enjoy my carefree time. What a relief!

Rhythm and balanced effort also came into my reflections. There is nothing wrong with being productive and efficient. Nevertheless, I would like to find a rhythm of concentration and relaxation, focus and breadth, like inhaling and exhaling, or contraction and expansion.

When I notice I’m feeling tired and mentally exhausted, practising balanced effort means allowing myself to relax, rest and do nothing until my energy returns. And I need to accept that stopping what I’m doing might initially feel uncomfortable.

Here’s the next step I came up with: every day for the next two weeks I’ll schedule ten minutes every morning and evening for doing nothing!