Relaxing Ritual~ doing nothing

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“Every ancient tradition holds that from this still core of the self, this infinitely fertile emptiness, springs all that is authentic about you: your identity, your ability to recognize truth, the real operating instructions for your life.” ~Martha Beck The Joy Diet

One of my favorite writers on the subjects of life, getting what you want out of life, and living a joyful life is Martha Beck, the author of a phenomenal book called The Joy Diet. I have read and re-read this book, and every time I take something wonderful and refreshing from the wisdom written on the pages.

Most of us are busy, busy, busy. Some of us are going to a job outside the home every day and trying to make time for family, friends, housekeeping and recreational activities on the evenings and weekends. Some of us are taking night classes. Some of us are stay at home moms who spend our days cleaning, cooking, shopping, planning menus, helping kids with homework, gardening, doing yard work…I am a member of this last category, with the added bonus of being a writer by trade. I love my job, but when you are working at home there is always something to DO

My point is, that most of the time, even during moments of recreation, we’re busy. Even if we’re busy having fun.

I have to say, the first time I read The Joy Diet I was a little taken aback by the first chapter. Martha’s first instruction to living a happy, joyful life is to make time to do absolutely nothing. Nothing? I thought, “What the heck is she talking about? Nothing doesn’t sound very pro-active.” So I skipped that chapter and went right on to chapter two. I read the rest of the book and by the time I was done I was so impressed by everything I had gleaned from the book, I ended up reading chapter one anyway. I’m glad I did. Doing nothing is one of the best things I’ve ever not done…hee hee.

One of my favorite ways to do nothing is called the white light meditation that I learned when reading another fantastic book, Yoga Beats the Blues, by Donna Raskin.

Another favorite is to go lay under the willow tree in our back yard. Laying there, looking up at the clouds, and breathing in the fresh air for even ten minutes usually does the trick.

~Instructions for Doing Nothing~

1) Go somewhere where you won’t be interrupted- (your bedroom, car, under a tree in your yard, a walking path, the reading room at your local

library…)

2)  Vacate your body-Either be completely still or do something physical that allows you to move rhythmically (walking, jogging, swimming, martial arts drills, rollerblading…)

3) Vacate your mind– try different meditations and find the ones that work for you…there is one called The Waterfall, in The Joy Diet, that I particularly like. Picture yourself entering a small cave behind a thundering waterfall. Stay there in the cool spray and watch the contents of your mind thunder past you like falling water. No matter how violent the downpour, you are able to sit apart from it.

4) Learn to return– Think of a place you’ve been where you felt completely at peace. For me this place is a beach in Maui, hearing and watching the ocean waves with the warm sunlight on my face. Whenever I need to escape I can go to this place in my mind. This way I can do ‘nothing’ wherever I am, whenever I need to.

What are your favorite relaxing rituals?

~Melissa

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  8 comments for “Relaxing Ritual~ doing nothing

  1. November 5, 2010 at 12:59 am

    I am actually about to write about this very subject on my blog! The Joy Diet sounds wonderful, I will definitely getting it! XOXO

  2. admin
    November 5, 2010 at 4:46 am

    I’m glad you’re writing about this too Kristina! so many people are walking around all stressed out and could find some relief if they only heard and applied this simple message to their lives. The Joy Diet, along with a yoga regimen, saved my life eight years ago when I went through a depression. I’m happy to report that it hasn’t reared it ugly head since, so I figure I must be doing something right 😉

    Enjoy the book,
    XOXO,
    ~M

  3. November 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion – I think I would like this book, so I’ll try to find a copy.

  4. admin
    November 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    You’re welcome Mary, thanks for commenting. You should be able to find a copy on Amazon 🙂

  5. Kimber Dunn
    November 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Melissa, I’ve battled depression for years, since I was teenager really but had a bad case of post-partum too. I still fight it here and there, but it’s been controllable thankfully. All of that besides, I’ve been considering yoga too. Do you do it at home or at a gym? I will have to add this book to my list too. I have the hardest time doing nothing without major guilt afterwards. Even when I’m sick, I feel bad because I’m wasting time resting instead of working.

  6. admin
    November 6, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Hey Kimber, I’m so sorry you’ve battled with depression. I know how horrible it is. Thanks for sharing that with me. Yoga and meditation are so awesome. Like I said, they saved my life. I started doing yoga in a studio, and now I do it at home. So many women suffer from the guilt you’re talking about. You aren’t alone. Please try to stop the old ‘tapes’ that are playing in your brain telling you to feel guilty when you are doing this very important thing for yourself. You will be happier, healthier…and I believe you’ll add many extra years to your life 🙂

    “The Joy Diet”, “Yoga Beats the Blues”, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “A gift From the Sea” are three books you should definitely get.

    Love,
    Melissa

  7. September 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    great minds think alike! 😉 i’ll have to check out that book – thanks for the suggestion!

    • Melissa
      September 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      yes, they do! enjoy the book! 🙂

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