Often, we approach our physical wellness armed with a to-do list: We check off our daily yoga practice, salt bath, and green smoothie as proof of our investment in ourselves. We look to nurture our spiritual side with activity too—be it attending a nonsecular or secular group meeting, participating in a drum circle, or stocking our home libraries with books that promise to feed our souls. There’s nothing wrong with these actions, of course. And you certainly shouldn’t stop doing whatever is working for you.
But what if getting in touch with your spiritual self were as easy as simply doing nothing? No journaling, deep meditation practice, or woodsy hike. Just stepping back from your usual activities to simply be.
Why boredom is now a luxury.
In this world of busyness driven by the constant information flow emanating from our digital devices, we rarely have a chance to simply sit and be. If we feel that uncomfortable sensation of boredom edging in, we quickly look for distractions from the outside world. We’re busy deciding what to have for lunch, commuting to our jobs or chauffeuring our children, folding laundry, or, when schedules finally permit, meeting up with friends and family. Ironically, the explosion of things to eat, wear, buy, and do has raised the cost of leisure. We’re using so much of our time and mental energy making daily choices that being bored now comes at a price.
However, taking the time to be bored—to do nothing, to put the phone away, to sit in quiet, to fight off those pangs of guilt and anxiety that arrive when our schedules have breathing room—allows us the space to connect with ourselves on a deeper level. Time spent doing nothing clears our mind and helps us remember who we really are.
While the seemingly simple act of disconnecting from the world to reconnect to ourselves can feel enormously challenging, it's certainly doable.
In order to connect to your spiritual self through "doing nothing," simply give yourself room to be bored.
The next time you find yourself with unscheduled time, fight through the impulse to message a friend or turn some music on. You’re not used to peace and quiet, and you’re certainly not accustomed to spending time doing nothing. It’s a foreign concept and rarely practiced. It can take time to teach yourself how to simply sit and be. The impulse to check your email or busy yourself doing things can be strong. Resist it. Practice being bored once a day for 10 minutes.
On the other side of boredom is doing nothing. And doing nothing, being present but engaged in nothing, is a spiritually satisfying state. Let any worries and problems slip away from your mind. Allow this time, free of distraction or agenda, to reboot your brain. It’s in this clean start that you’ll find connection.
As you relax into a state of doing nothing, you forget your concerns with the material and physical. Goodbye, worries about the leaking roof or your anxiousness about that long run in your training program. As your mind clears, you can connect with your spiritual self (in whichever way you define that self).
Our time is at a premium now more than ever. And we give so much of our remaining attention to news and information that has little relevance to our overall well-being or that of our community. That’s why the practice of doing nothing, of taking time away to disconnect, is so vital to wellness. Simply making a habit of disconnecting for 10 minutes a day to sit in quiet and restart your mind is enough. Spoil yourself daily with the luxury of downtime.
For more advice on how to relish those in-between moments, check out Rachel's new book, The Joy of Doing Nothing.