There is nothing to do...
Everything is explained in the Video. I think it is very powerful.
Below you can read the video as text:
This text is about a practice I want to propose that I call "There's Nothing to Do". So, there is nothing to do at the moment. I am just sitting here. I am doing something, I am writing, but besides that - since the writing is already over when you read this - there is nothing to do. I am just sitting here, doing nothing. And I will explain to you why I talk about this and why I am writing this text.
The observation is that people are never doing nothing; they are always doing something. Even if they are doing "nothing", something is happening. For example, they are consuming something, like watching a TV series or something similar. Something is happening in front of them that they are observing or listening to or whatever.
So, there is always something happening around them. And in our society, it seems uncommon to really do nothing. To just sit there and have nothing happening. This is something different from meditation or from when people talk about stillness. There are many stillness practices where you are doing something. For example, in Tai Chi, you are standing in certain positions. Things like this. You are in stillness, you are not moving, you practice not moving, but still, you are doing something. That means you are still very, very active - so active that when you are holding the positions for a long time, especially as a beginner, there comes a point where you really want to stop. And then the struggle starts and that is where the learning process begins etcetera. How does your body adapt to this situation of being still? It wants to move into a different position because the body is constantly moving. Staying in a static position without moving is very, very difficult.
This is a beneficial practice, but it is not what I am talking about. I am talking more about the difference between doing and not doing. And this is only very loosely related to movement and stillness. Those are concepts that some people are already familiar with. We have all these big movements and then we have the stillness practice: You sit there and do all sorts of sophisticated positions, like in Yoga or Tai Chi or whatever, but those are all practices where you train something. For example, when you stand with the arms out or you sit in a position, then you are still really practicing something. You are improving in something. You are doing something. But what I want to propose now is not doing anything. You are not exercising anything, which is why I say "practice". It is not a practice in the way of doing something and getting better at it. You are already good enough. You do not have to improve anything about what I want to propose here, which is to just sit or lay or stand, whatever you want, it does not matter. The position does not matter. It is not like Pranayama, where you have to prepare the body for years and maybe if you start as a 40 years old European, you will never get to the point where your body structure changes in a way that you can do the Pranayama properly and so on and so forth.
This is very accessible for everyone because it is a very simple thing: Sitting there, doing nothing. It means that I am not focused on anything. I am not observing something or listening hard to something or thinking about something in particular. But it also means that I am not restricting myself from these things, and that is why it is also different from meditation. Because in most meditations а not all of them, but in most а you have something to focus on, like a mantra or a position or your breathing and so on. So, here there is nothing to focus on. It is the opposite: you are not focusing on anything, you are just sitting and doing nothing. It is almost like a rebellion in this society that kind of urges you to do something all the time, to be productive, and to create or to work. When you meditate you are still kind of in this mode. Many people are now meditating to be able to work harder or to stay more focused on their work. I like to say that the devil is also meditating; he is also using these tools. It is not an enlightenment tool for him. For many people, it is a tool to be able to focus.
Of course, you can do all sorts of things with meditation, but what I propose now, the "There's Nothing to Do", is not about achieving anything. And that is why I also say: "Do not close your eyes, do not sleep, do not fall asleep." Because falling asleep again gives you energy to work and so on, so I do not want you to fall asleep. Falling asleep is too productive. No productivity, I am simply here and I am doing nothing sitting here. For some people, it might be difficult, so you might want to start with five minutes, and over time you increase it to one hour or whatever. Sometimes it is just nice to do it, to do as long as you like, but sometimes it is also nice to use a timer. I put a timer on 20 minutes and do nothing for 20 minutes because I know, otherwise, I usually do a bit less than what I want to do. So, I help myself with a countdown, I give myself time to not do anything.
I'll give you an idea of what usually happens when I do it. It is different for everyone and it doesn't matter what exactly happens. I'll just tell you what happens when I do it. I kind of have three stages that I go through often (but not always).
The first stage is that I sit and all sorts of thoughts are coming in. These thoughts are the loose ends of thinking threads that I did not finish thinking before. Some topics I was thinking about this day or the days before but did not have time to think through to the end. They usually come up, they are in my mind, they are interesting me or bothering me, or they can be a problem or a thing I want to get deeper into, that I want to get more into through contemplation.
And I just let it happen. I do not restrict any thinking, I just let happen what wants to happen. I let myself think about all the thoughts that come. I let myself think about them, I take the time. I do not usually do hard contemplation in a way that makes me turn super stiff. But I sit and I let the thoughts come and I think and so on, and I go into it in a way that allows me to say afterward: "Okay, I finished this thought, I got to a new point there." So, it's a bit different from the instruction that you often get in meditation: The thought comes in, you let it in and you let it pass. I do not let it pass, I let it stay until it is finished. And then the next one comes and the next one and so on, and after some time I realize that the thoughts kind of stop by themselves. And this first stage is really important to me because I often feel that when I do meditation and am not going through my loose ends of thinking threads beforehand, then meditation becomes very, very difficult.
Because in meditation thoughts still come in, but you kind of restrict them or you catch yourself: "Ah, now I am wandering off from the meditation, I have to focus again on the focus point of the meditation." On the breath, for example, or whatever. So, you come out of the meditation and all the thinking threads are still there, unresolved. I want to propose to first take your time to tie these loose ends, to think them through to the end so you can get to a different state: a very calm state.
Because it is not like: "Oh, so many things are rushing in my head and bababa. Oh, I need to think about this and this and this and this." You get out of the meditation and think: "Okay, I need to do this and this and this because I still have all these things in my head." And that is why I also say this "There's Nothing to Do" practice comes before the meditation. It is the starting point.
Going into the meditation directly, for me, feels premature. It does not make so much sense for me, rushing here and there, doing this and this, and then you meditate and you also kind of practice something. First, take the time to just do nothing. Just sit and do nothing. And then you take the time to finish the things that need to be finished, like this certain thought, for example, thinking about all the things that are happening at the moment. I first take my time for this. This is the first stage of doing nothing or, you could say, the state towards doing nothing. And this can take some time, it can take 10, 20, 30 minutes, or it comes in waves.
After resolving the thoughts, I go to the second stage. It is not that I go, really, it just happens. It happens that the second stage arises. And the second stage is that I get more aware of what is around me, especially the sounds, also what I see, but more importantly the sounds. For example, the bird that is now making its noises or the sound of the wheel of a children's bike. All these sounds. I take my time to let the sounds come in. Again, I do not concentrate intensely on these sounds. I let them come in and I perceive them in this "Nothing to Do" way. This is what is happening by itself in the second stage for me.
And then, after some time, the third stage comes. And the third stage is where I really feel like I am getting into a state where nothing is happening anymore, where I am not doing anything. And I feel how my mind is sinking. Before that, it feels like my mind is at the top of my head, and then it sinks more to the bottom. And I feel how my vision is opening, how it is defocusing. Often this already happens beforehand, but it will happen at this point if not before. And I am getting into this state of "nothing is happening", I am not doing anything.
You could call this a meditative state. But I am not getting there through exercises or some sophisticated practice. All I'm doing is doing nothing. I am just sitting here. I have nothing to do, there is nothing to do. And then, by itself, this moment comes that I feel is incredibly powerful for me.
Many, many things have happened since I started practicing this. I started practicing it when a friend of mine mentioned something similar. It is not the same thing, but he mentioned something similar enough so that it made me think. And I started to just sit there. The timing was good because at this time I had the time to practice it every day. Sitting there for one hour, not doing anything.
And it is very beneficial. It is so beneficial for me, that now when I cannot do it for let's say a week, I feel that there is so much to do, that I have no time to do anything. And I feel that I really need it because it is so healthy. You can become very aware of the moments when you are just rushing from here to there and you do not have the time to sit down and not do anything. So, if you just sit and someone comes to you and asks you what you are doing, you can say: "I am not doing anything; I am doing nothing." Then you are doing the practice.
This is what I propose. This is before meditation, this very simple thing that I've talked about at some length. But the explanation can also be really short: Just sit down and do nothing. For some reason that I do not know, no one ever told me this. Not one of my teachers ever gave me this as a thing to do. And with my teachers, I did many kinds of meditations, but I guess this is too simple. People always want something very sophisticated with these practices. But first, do nothing and then you can start with meditative practices that are more sophisticated. Like the Yoga world, or Buddhism or Tai Chi or whatever. Whatever practice, or Sacred Silence or all this stuff. But first, just do nothing
Spoken: Joseph Bartz
Transcription: Vin Haimann