How to do Nothing

How to do Nothing

There beside Mount Barney on the bank of a muddy creek life stretched out slowly ahead of me. I shouldn’t have checked my emails as soon as I finished meditating but I did.

If you’re an A type personality or slightly hyperactive like me doing nothing is hard. Even if you’re more laid back and less prone to stress it’s still hard to do nothing because of expectations from others for  us to do something. Anything. In the modern world doing anything at all is better is seen as better than doing nothing.

Typically I find it hard to do nothing. So hard I’ve even written about things like how to cope with boredom but, with the help of mindfulness for beginners, a crash course in how to meditate and a wake up call from my old friend depression I’m beginning to see the wisdom in doing nothing.

We spend too much time switching from one job to the next, going from one place to another or swinging between emotional states and all that frenetic energy makes slowing down harder and harder. If you need lessons in how to do nothing here’s what I learnt last week during a weekend spent under canvas with the family.

how to do nothing camping by the creek

1. Recognise why you keep yourself so busy

We still had phone reception at Flannagan’s Reseve campsite so I handled email inquiries for sponsored blog post rates and blog design.

With my new found awareness I realise working makes me feel important, useful, wanted.

I feel even more special when I get a phone call asking if I want to go sky diving in Wollongong when I’m visiting as a panelist for the Social Media Tourism Symposium so of course I say yes.

And even though I’m then told everyone else said no to sky diving and I don’t exactly know what it is I’m still excited. I think sky diving involves jumping out of a plane but whatever it is I can hardly wait.

how to do nothing parrots

2. Reduce self-imposed pressures

Then I come to my senses, look around at the Scribbly Gum trees, Australian King Parrots and Red-necked Wallabies and realise how pathetic it is to work while you’re on holiday in order to feel good about yourself.

So I focus more on awareness and on being myself. I find myself a little bit. We’re there for a friend’s 50th birthday camp out but I don’t try to be sociable when I don’t feel like it. I don’t try to be the life and soul of the party even though I’m an introvert. I don’t drink or smoke or talk about how hard that is even though I quit those temptations almost six months ago in January.

I wander around the campsite watching humanity and wildlife but still have time to talk to people who want to talk to me. I go to bed early. I read by torchlight. I sleep in a tent surrounded by the hums and buzzes of the bush and my family. It feels good.

how to do nothing fireside

3. Release your responsibilities

The next day it’s more of the same but different. Same worn clothes, same camp fire, same creek. Our hair smells of smoke, our socks are filthy and we haven’t eaten a vegetable since we left home. The kids love it.

I resist the urge to try to change anything, find the picnic blanket, pick up my pillow and wander back down to the creek. I take my mobile phone because it has my guided mediation practices on it but I keep it locked in Airplane Mode so it can’t ring or beep as emails or text messages arrive.

I breathe, I listen to the birds and watch the clouds over Mount Barney. Another 30 minutes of my life have gone by when ding tells me the meditation time is over. I open my eyes and turn the phone off. I don’t need it, I don’t want it. Another habit has been broken.

We only went camping for two nights but it seemed like forever. Forever and nothing. The kind of nothing that everyone needs.

how to do nothing party

Camp out party by Mount Barney – Happy Birthday Lynne!

how to do nothing galah

Galah patrolling Flannagan’s Reserve in rural Queensland

how to do nothing max swimming in creek

Top marks to Max Candy for taking a mid-winter swim in the creek

Do you ever take a moment to do absolutely nothing? How do you do nothing and where? 

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  1. Hello, I’m off for two nights on Thursday and won’t take the laptop. I need a break. How I wish I could join you in the ‘Gong but I’m husbandless and babysitterless but not childless. Often I feel opressed by how much STUFF there is to do, am being slow and slack as much as I can these school hols… empty fridge and cupboards… but too much driving around still. Hmm…

    • Annabel Candy July 9, 2013 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      Those laptopless days sound good :) I wish you could join us too but sometimes things are too hard and add to the stress when you get back. I try to have a car free day once a week then we slow down to biking and walking. I love that but it takes discipline – and finding a day when no one has after school activities or meetings to go to!

  2. Johanna July 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    So enjoyed this post and it made me realise the importance of slowing down. Camping is such a great way to do that, especially when there’s no cell phone reception and you have only one thing to occupy your attention – being at one with nature.

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