Yesterday I went whale-watching with my son Adam and my partner Karen. It was a beautiful day, and there were humpbacks everywhere. Aside from the slight injuries I sustained being elbowed by other tourists, it was awesome.
Of course Adam had his own odd way of whale-watching, which consisted of sitting on the boat with his eyes closed for three hours. Whenever I asked him something (“Don’t you want to see the whales?” “Don’t you want some water?” “Don’t you want to elbow a tourist?”) he’d shake his head briskly, wide awake. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was “feeling ALL the sea animals.” As one does.
This illustrates a paradox I’ve noticed this month: Sitting still is incredibly powerful. Recently I’d been hankering to meditate more, and I can’t sustain a good hanker, so I started sitting more often, and for longer time periods, than ever before. This has had a weird result. Slowing down has caused everything I do to happen faster.
Every day, after meditating for an hour and a half, I get up and observe my body as it does chores. Then I watch my brain and body together writing, teaching, or answering email. I don’t feel as if I’m doing it, and it happens bizarrely fast. All my life I’ve felt rushed, but the more of nothing I do, the more I seem to feel my way through the ocean of tasks we all face.
This month, especially if you have a lot to do, try doing more of nothing. If you don’t meditate at all, try 10 minutes a day. If you do meditate, double your time. Then notice the velocity at which things get done. If you don’t notice an improvement in a week, quit. But give it an honest try.
Lao Tzu says, “When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” I’m finding this to be almost magically true.
Do it—that is, don’t do it—and see for yourself.