off the grid

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Doing nothing is not easy to do. Going from being busy to doing nothing can feel as precarious as going full stop on a highway when everyone else is speeding along around you. It’s better to find some safe place to pull off.

For me, this week came down to learning how to be present in the moment, to taming my distractions. It’s amazing how much of our attention goes to things that have either already happened or have yet to happen. We don’t often just enjoy the moment we’re in. I tried a lot of tactics to slow down and be in the moment over the last week.

1) Chop! I’m not someone who can just sit and do absolutely nothing all day, so I found things that kept my hands busy but still had a “nothingness” to them. I spent a wonderful afternoon taking a slow drive out to a farm in the countryside, getting fresh vegetables and taking my time chopping them up in the front yard to make the delicious ratatouille from vegetarian week.
2) Breathing. Sometimes we forget to breathe. Every time I would feel myself speeding up again I would take 10 slow, deep breaths to regain control again.
3) “Soften my gaze”. My hardest problem is keeping my brain from bouncing from one thought to another. I think too much. In yoga, when you’re holding a difficult pose you’re told to “soften your gaze”, relax your face & thoughts. It’s a way of being aware of how you’re struggling and trying to calm it. When I start noticing I’m worrying or my thoughts are flitting all over, I stop and look at something around me, soften my gaze and just slowly push the thoughts away. Gazing at clouds can be very helpful.
4) Go camping. Sometimes you just have to go where you can’t be bothered. My husband and I spent a night off the grid at the Arapaho Bay campground near Lake Granby. No cell phone pings. No email alerts. No working or worrying. I didn’t even need 10 deep breaths; they came naturally with the fresh air.

We replaced the normal distractions with the sounds of the waves against the shore, the smell of the campfires and the vistas of the late afternoon sun illuminating the wildflowers. It becomes much easier to do nothing with the help of the great outdoors.

Camping also provides the ultimate “nothingness” experiment: the art of roasting a marshmallow. Your hope of mastering the art of doing nothing all comes down to a marshmallow. Do you torch your marshmallow into charred carbon or do you have the Zen-like patience to get it just right?
My husband is obviously still fighting his busyness.

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