‘The softest water breaks the hardest stone, carves the block with no effort. That which lacks substance can go where there is no space. Thus, there is strength in non-action.’ -Tao Te #43-Wu Wei
Occupy Sanity Tool (OST): Non-Action
Human Do-ing versus Human Be-ing
In general, I am an action-oriented person. I revel in accomplishing tasks, reaching goals, finishing projects, learning new things, seeing new places, discovering new trails, etc. While my meditation practice has helped me make peace with non-action, I believe I am more comfortable as a human ‘do-ing’ rather than a human be-ing!
For a couple of years now I have had a daily walking practice with the goal of walking 10K steps each day. My health and well-being have improved 100% and this practice has become a precious habit for me.
I signed up for an additional challenge this year. There are 25 of us from around the world who each have agreed to walk 1000 miles. The idea being that by the end of the year we will have walked around the world! I started in February so I needed to walk a bit extra to catch up. I was well on my way to that goal when ‘disaster’ struck.
I pulled a hamstring.
I say ‘disaster’ because any ‘action’ I took caused me pain not to mention disappointment. I was busy doing all the ‘action’ steps to promote healing and in spite of my best efforts, recovery has been slow.
Then I discovered there was one step I had left out that appears to be the most important for this type of injury: non-action.
As I made time to breathe deeply and listen…to the self-talk within me, I realized I had been cursing my leg for letting me down. I wondered if appreciating how far it has carried me in life would be a more loving and compassionate approach. The moment I thought of this, I felt the muscles in my leg relax and a bit of the pain eased up.
My next ‘non-action’ revelation was a solution that would allow me to continue taking ‘action’ toward my goals and hopefully aide the physical healing. I could reduce, not stop completely, my step goal while the injury heals and STILL get in steps.
My Own Think Tank
As I continued to purposefully set aside time for non-action, I understood what the Tao Te was referring to by ‘…carving the block with no effort’. I found that I had created my own think-tank where creative solutions for other aspects of my life began to ‘Rise Up’ naturally. Not to mention that my leg is definitely getting better from my non-action!
How about you? Next time you are a human do-ing and find making an effort is not yielding you the best results, take a break with non-action. I’d love to hear about your experience.