Thursday, April 05, 2012

Time stress and the practice of non-doing



I'm still reading Full Catastrophe Living by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and I'm at the part where he talks about time and time stress. He discusses "non-doing" as a practice to relieve time stress. I find it very interesting that  we have the ability to create a state of timelessness just by slowing down our minds. Jason and I scratched the surface on this in the MBSR class, but it's really hard to do. (I guess that's why it's called a practice.)

Here's a few excerpts about the practice of "non-doing":

Non-doing means letting go of everything. Above all, it means seeing and letting go of your thoughts as they come and go. It means letting yourself be. If you feel trapped in time, non-doing is a way that you can step out of all the time on your hands by stepping into timelessness. In doing so you also step out, at least momentarily, from your isolation and your unhappiness and from your desire to be engaged, busy, a part of things, doing something meaningful. By connecting with yourself outside the flow of time, you are already doing the most meaningful thing you could possibly do, namely coming to peace within your own mind, coming into contact with you own wholeness, reconnecting with yourself.

As we have seen, in practicing meditation you are basically stepping out of the flow of time and residing in stillness, in an eternal present. That doesn't mean that every moment you practice will be a moment of timelessness. That depends on the degree of concentration and calmness that you bring to each moment But just making the commitment to practice non-doing, to let go of striving, to be non-judgmental, slows down that time for you and slowing down time itself, for giving yourself time for just being, you are strengthening your ability to operate out of your being, in the present, during the rest of your day, when the pace of the outer and inner worlds may be much more relentless. That is why it is so important to organize your life around preserving some time each day for just being.

Simplifying our lives in even little ways can make a big difference. If you fill up all your time, you won't have any. And you probably won't even be aware of why you don't. Simplifying may mean prioritizing the things that you have to and want to do and, at the same time, consciously choosing to give certain things up. It may mean learning to say no sometimes, even to things you want to do or to people you care about and want to help so that you are protecting and preserving some space for silence, for non-doing.

But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time is time conquered.
---T.S. Eliot, "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets

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