We recently had a snowstorm that essentially snowed in the city for a couple of days until the sun came out and melted everything. I ran into a friend of mine afterwards, and she told me how thrilled she had been to be “forced to stay home and do nothing” because of the snowstorm. I smiled and commented that she didn’t have to wait to get snowed in before “doing nothing” at home on a weekend. She looked shocked and replied, “But how would I explain that on Monday morning when people ask what I did on Saturday?”
That’s it right there, isn’t it? Peer pressure. Our culture and society, for whatever reason (and there are probably several), gives us the message that we have to be busy all. the. time. Our evenings and weekends must be jam packed full of activities, errands, meetings, kids’ sports practices, etc. We can’t simply sit at home and do nothing. Because… well, why not? Being mindful is not part of our daily busy routine.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with clearing the schedule to do nothing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with practicing mindfulness.
What exactly would ‘do nothing’ look like? Maybe it’s sleeping late. Or binge watching your favorite tv show on a streaming service. Or gardening in the backyard. Or taking an extra long walk. Or spending all afternoon baking your grandmother’s apple pie recipe from scratch. Or reading that book you’ve had sitting on the nightstand for months. Or… fill in the blank.
Doing nothing doesn’t necessarily mean laying on the couch, staring at the ceiling, doing nothing.
So what does it mean to be mindful and ‘do nothing’?
It means carving out some time to do something unscripted, unplanned, unscheduled. It means asking yourself, “hey, what do I want to do today?” (Key word being want. We could easily fill up our schedules with the things we need to do, but how often do you ask yourself what you want to do?) It means setting aside time to practice being mindful.
And how do you explain your ‘do nothing’ free time choices to those who ask? You don’t have to explain them. It’s as simple as that. No one else gets to tell you what you choose to do in your own free time. Will you get some odd looks at first? Maybe (depends on who’s asking!). But if you’re totally ok with your choice of ‘do nothing’ activity, then why does it matter what someone else thinks about it?
So give it a try next time you have a free hour or two, or a whole afternoon! Do nothing and see how you feel.
If you’re interested in finding out how to incorporate mindfulness into your life, or you’re curious about how music therapy might fit into the picture– contact me. I’m always happy to answer questions!