“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
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?