Update from Josh: The response to 8400 Seconds was overwhelming and wonderful, thank you. This post is my favorite response so far.
By Amy Harrison
I always thought doing nothing was easy.
It’s a luxury most of us can’t afford. We’re go-getters, we set goals, work hard and go for it. We organize, plan, check things off and get things done. I’m not talking about mindless busy either, we’re working hard and fast to improve ourselves, better ourselves and it’s rewarding because it’s hard.
And doing nothing is easy, right?
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t
Josh’s post the other day–8400 seconds–shows how the strength it takes to do nothing but be still, without distractions.
I’d be willing to bet that many people reading that article admired Josh’s achievement and felt appreciative of an ability many of us probably take for granted.
I began to wonder just how many people, exercise that ability? It probably seems peculiar working towards something you can already do.
But can you really sit still?
Can you sit quietly without thinking about tasks on your to do list or what you’re going to have for dinner that evening? Do you have the TV or radio on even if you haven’t actively picked a programme to watch or listen to?
Do you find the idea of meditating devoid of practical application and only for the spiritually enlightened and yoga lovers?
For the most part, I have been in the above. I am the sort of person who goes to the beach or the park with: a book, a notebook, my diary, my phone, mp3 player, several pens, a camera and a camcorder on the off chance that I have an idea, or need to do something, or need to capture something or need to just be doggone busy.
I am confident that for most people, sitting still is a difficult thing to do.
On and off
I’ve only just started it myself, I’ve been doing it on and off for the last few months with surprising results.
- I’m calmer
- I’m more appreciative or the moment
- I’m more focused
- I’m more content
- I’m more forgiving
- I’m more excited
What do I do?
On a regular basis I’ve taken time to “float”. If I think about it as meditating I’m going to try too hard to do it properly. I like the idea of floating. It makes me think of being on holiday and being on an inflatable in the swimming pool; unable to read, or listen to music because of the water soaking the pages or wrecking my electronics.
I take that time to just check in with myself. I use it as free time without a conscious purpose, without pressure to fix something, solves something, set new goals or scope out the competition. As a result my actions seem to be gradually aligning with what it is that moves and inspires me.
It’s free, doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, and doesn’t require any equipment, gadgets or gizmos.
But don’t think that this means it’s easy.
To get the most out of sitting still, you’ll need the following things:
The quiet amplifies our thoughts and it can take a lot of discipline to get used to. It’s essential for focus however so find somewhere that will have no interruptions, turn off your phone, lock the door, turn off the TV and radio and just listen to the inside of your head.
No one else is travelling your journey. It’s your life, so whilst you don’t need five football fields to do this, you do need space away from other people. You are the driver in the vehicle of your life, though it’s easy to feel that our work, commitments and responsibilities all have their hands on the steering wheel. Find space away from these things so you can focus on yourself.
You have to be comfortable otherwise you’re going to be thinking about your aches and shifting like a sinner on a church pew. Lie down, or find a comfy chair.
Word of warning: It’s best if you’re not so comfortable that you fall asleep easily. This isn’t supposed to be about insomnia relief.
Whether it’s once a day, once a week or a couple of times a month, make time to sit still on a regular basis. Like anything which truly makes you a stronger person, it doesn’t come from doing something once, or provide results overnight.
I like a purpose. I like objectives and achieving goals. Sitting still without any of these can be very hard, but it’s important if you want to get the most from this time. Don’t go into it looking for an answer, or enlightenment.
A little faith
I don’t want to write too much about how I spend my time doing this, as I don’t want people to feel that there is a formula, a “method” or a right or wrong way. It’s your journey remember, it’s going to be different for different people. You’re going to think about different things and feel differently after your time sitting still.
Don’t worry too much about what is or isn’t supposed to be happening, just have a little faith that what you’re doing isn’t wasting time.
Really? Just faith and no direction?
Well, okay, I’ll hint at some of the benefits I’ve found from this practice.
My mind tends to drift when I’m sitting still and it’s interesting to see where it goes. Rather than consciously thinking about certain things and mentally paddle against the current, I’ve enjoyed just letting thoughts enter my mind. Sometimes it’s things that bug me and I use the space to ask myself why, or it’s things that excite me and I ask myself how I can find more of that in my life.
Sometimes it’s the chance to not look forward at what I want to achieve, but to just look around, see what I have in my life at that moment and appreciate it as if it is the only thing I’ll ever know.
At best I find I am become a little more conscious about what my heart really wants. At the very least, I feel refreshed and calm.
I found Josh’s post on the 8,400 second achievement to be incredibly inspiring and in addition to the exciting ideas behind The Movement, I think it shows us to never underestimate the strength it takes to sit still.
About The Author:
Amy Harrison is a freelance copywriter offering creative contemplation, writing tips and inspiration at Harrisonamy.com She likes to encourage people to follow their dreams and laugh along the way. She sings in a Bluegrass band, likes naps and Jaffa Cakes. She does not like the word spatula. You can follow her on Twitter here.
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