The Curious Art Of Doing Nothing

Editor's Note:

Hola Mi Gente. This Week In Peace is here to provide a fresh perspective of harmony during the turbulence of the moment and on into the future. The future will be absolutely brighter when we take care of ourselves and each other. How? Read on.

Greetings and thank you for reading! Khalilah The Peace Dancer here, dancing, documenting and doubling down on my work of spreading joy. I’m writing this from my bedroom during week 5 of the national “Shelter In Place” ordinance. It has been interesting to experiment with new avenues of service. Additionally, let’s take this moment to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who opened up their homes and their lives by broadcasting all the cooking, art and family time happening in quarantine. Social media has shown a surge in quality, homemade content filled with love and creativity, sprinkled with far less arguments, fear and speculation. It’s not perfect but it is progress that we can be proud of. Yay, humans!

Visiting with friends this week has been a highlight. In the era of social distancing, visiting friends has changed. There are no hugs at this time and visits occur either at a 6ft distance apart or virtually. For the record, it helps to see friends, even from a distance. In the future perhaps we won’t take hugs for granted quite as much? I know I won’t.

My friends and I talked for over an hour about ways that the virus has affected our daily lives. Everyone agreed that we were all doing our best to stay safe and be patient. “Grocery stores could be a mess,” my friend said, “But they’re not because we choose to be peaceful and polite while we shop.” This remark seemed true and wise to me so I asked for advice. “Have any of you experienced a strange urge to sit staring aimlessly out of the window? I’ve been compelled to do this for 30 plus minutes each day. I don’t know what it means.”

“Are you meditating?” my friend asked.
“No, I don’t seem to be doing anything. It’s hard to explain,” I said.

This is when I learned about Niksen.

Pronounced “NIX IN” the word is a Dutch verb which means ‘doing nothing’. The Dutch have experimented with Niksen as a method of combating work related health issues like stress and burnout. Niksen, I found out, is consciously considered time to do activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless. Niksen is mindful and deliberate, but it is not meditation. Total idleness is required to get the benefits.

What benefits, you ask? Research conducted at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain suggests that daydreaming, that is, letting the mind find its own stimulus, ultimately leads to higher levels of productivity. Without the pressure of constant striving, the mind naturally becomes more creative. It is better able to solve problems and discover innovative solutions. This Niksen brand of idleness gives the body and mind a needed rest so that it can function in a more balanced way. Niksen is not the only technique that has the power to rest and restore our minds, bodies and spirits but it is definitely one to consider adding to our repertoire. 

Personally, I had to learn to allow this phenomenon to take place organically. We are almost as busy as ever, even in quarantine. Distance learning, meal preparation, keeping up with the bills and managing families are just as demanding as going to work. While working online, I felt a sudden, pressing need to lay down on a blanket on the floor and look at the ceiling. This was something new, so I was curious. The first thing I noticed was birdsong outside. Next, a shower of white petals floated on a breeze outside my window. I was immediately calmed. Spring is a wondrous season for new life. It calls to us. Answer the call by arranging time to watch the sunset, sit in stillness or gaze at the clouds. Far from being a waste of time, Niksen is a healing modality that gathers our scattered energy and delivers it back to us.  It is not a new concept. We simply forgot about this common sense wisdom for a few decades. Do you dare set aside time to be still, quiet and idle while possibly opening the door to fresh inspiration? Don’t take my word for it, of course. Try it and find out for yourself! Thanks and (eventually) see you out there!

More of This Week in Peace:
Glowing Magic Reboot
What a Difference Two Weeks Make
Kicking. Screaming.Streaming