In this episode, Lisa talks about the importance of finding space to do nothing. She shares how she dealt with the thoughts that pushed her to get moving again, and the steps she took to truly stop.
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
Hey, welcome to another episode of the Podcast. Today, I’m talking about nothing. Well, not really, if you’ve been following on. You know I love nothing more than a good rant. But today, I’m talking about the extremely difficult art of nothingness.
So, let me explain what I’m talking about. Today, it was Sunday. So, it’s Sunday night here at Small Steps HQ. Pulled out my little podcaster mic and thought I would get this recorded, because it was a really interesting moment.
Now, I want to preface all of this by saying I am not a mindfulness guru, far from it. If you want that, you should go and check out my amazing friend Amy Taylor-Kabbaz and the Happy Mama podcast. She’s awesome. She knows this stuff, she practices yoga all the time. You know, this is her jam. She helps mums really get back and find their zen, incorporate mindfulness into every day.
And I must say, we have the amazing Jewls, who is our yoga instructor in the Small Steps membership, and once a month she comes in for the week and gives us a yoga session each day. It’s awesome, live.
She, last month, chose to do meditations, little mini meditations. And I can see exactly why. She watches the group, she sees what we need, and we need a little bit more of this. I’m not too sure if you’re like me, but I find it really hard.
I am only at the very beginning stages of mindfulness practices. Even although there are little things that I do, like if everyone’s being very noisy in the back of the car, I just touch the steering wheel, I feel the steering wheel, I notice my hands on the steering wheel, and that just brings me back into my body. And it’s awesome.
But then, there’s this whole concept of doing nothing when you feel you should be doing something. Not even listening to a meditation, just silence. Just silence. I wonder how you go with that. I’m pretty, pretty bad. And today was a Sunday, and everyone was kind of busily doing their things. We don’t use screens during the week, so on weekends, a movie goes on and the kids are watching.
Suddenly, time opens up a little bit for Nick and I. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was sitting in the back garden. I had the laptop open, I was just jotting down some things that had come into my brain because I’d stopped. Nick and I sat and had a coffee together, and it was just really nice.
And then I just thought, ‘You know what, I’m just going to take a moment. I’m just going to put my pen down, pop the laptop down.’ Phone wasn’t anywhere near me anyway, but that wasn’t there to distract me.
‘I’m just going to sit, and I’m just going to feel the sun on my face, for three-and-a-half minutes until I burn! But I’m just going to sit here. Here’s a moment. Take this moment, Lisa.’ So I did.
I just sat on our little outside table and chairs, I just sat there, and I just stopped doing anything.
I’m sure you can guess what happened. Thoughts started racing in, of course, and they were thoughts like, ‘Oh my gosh, what are you doing just sitting here when you could be cooking up the snacks for the week? What are you sitting here doing?’
‘What are you doing sitting here when washing needs to go on, that load needs to get out? The kids are probably about to finish their movie, what are we going to do next? Plan your day. You could be doing some work right now. If you popped out right now and got the other little bits that you needed from the shop, we’d be totally set up for the week. Why are you sitting down doing this?’
And on, and on, and on it went – until I just started to go, ‘Yeah, OK. This is what they say will happen, and I’m just going to let the thoughts come in, and then I’m just going to let them go.’ But I needed something a little bit more than that, I definitely did.
So what I started to do, in my moment of nothingness that was getting cramped – I sat in grace. So, I just started to sit there and think about how great the sun felt on my face. How awesome it was I was having this time.
One of the thoughts that had come in was, ‘You really need to sweep out here. There are so many leaves, and stuff lying around. Hurry up, get the broom.’ So I was just thinking, ‘Well, look at this. Look at these examples of nature. I’m so lucky.’
‘Wow, this is the first time in your life, Lisa, you’ve had a proper outdoor table and chairs. How great this feels. Wow, that shed is Nick’s painting studio, and he is happy as Larry in there right now. Wow, I’m glad I live here. Wow, I’m grateful for my body. Wow, I’m grateful for this mind that is doing its best right now. Wow, this is nothing.’
It was pretty cool. You know, no transcendental meditation or anything like that, but it was me giving myself permission to take a moment, and to fill it with nothing but grateful thoughts. I felt like I did need to focus my mind on something. So, as thoughts would come in, the ones that were trying to distract me and get me up, I’d just let them go and I would think of something that I was grateful for.
I thought I would share this, because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who finds this tough. You know how long I was probably doing nothing for? About seven or eight minutes, maybe, before I was interrupted. But it kind of really reset me. It shifted my focus from all the things that need to be done to, ‘Far out, this is awesome, this life. This is really cool.’
I’m going to try and do that a little bit more often, because I know me. I know myself. If I have a moment spare, I will absolutely find a way to fill it. It doesn’t come naturally to me to just stop and chill, hang out. You know, here I am on a Sunday night recording a podcast! Oh dear, the irony of all this.
But it’s true. Even just those little moments that you get where you just check Facebook, or you just think, ‘Oh, I’ve got a spare moment, I’ll call that person who I haven’t had a chance to call.’ Or, ‘Oh, while they’re busily playing I’ll get the dishwasher unpacked and the washing on,’ or something.
How often do you give yourself permission to just do nothing?
Not pick up a magazine. Not make it productive in any way. It’s not meant to be something that you do, or tick off your list. It’s meant to be you, just sitting with you. I wonder.
I’d like to invite you to take on a little Small Steps challenge – to do nothing. Possibly the easiest, but most challenging, idea for your week. Could you do it? Here are the things that I did, the three ways that I tried to ensure that I could really do nothing.
The first thing I did was I closed down any distractions. So, I didn’t want any pinging. My phone wasn’t near me, but if it was, it would have gone into another room and on silent. I put my laptop down, I shut it completely. So, no distractions, number one.
Then the second one was that I noticed thoughts that were trying to get me moving, get me back into my state of doing all the time. And I just let them go. I noticed them, I was like, ‘Hey, what’s up. Thanks, eff off.’ I didn’t really say that. But, you know, I was like, ‘I’m not going to fight you. You’re here. Yes, thank you. Bye.’ And those thoughts floated away. I gave myself permission to ignore those thoughts.
Then the third thing I did was replace them with grateful thoughts. So, I just sat, and I thought about what I was grateful for in that moment. That’s it. So simple. I’m no Deepak Chopra, but I thought I would share the small step I took today, to incorporate a bit of nothing into my day. This constant doer is trying to just be more, and I hope it was helpful. See you soon.