Is It Laziness...Or Non Doing?

How do you think about Laziness versus Non-Doing?

What’s the difference anyway? During this Pandemic chapter of life, so many reflections and revelations are emerging. Experiences that I may never have had without the gift of this forced slow down. As an avid “do-er”, Type A, Driver, Achiever, or whatever label you want to use, stopping on a dime has been both excruciating and liberating at the same time. I am reminded of my most excruciating time in life when John died paragliding in 2012. And as I endured that pain, I also experienced and woke up to a freedom and joy that I had never known possible.

I often talk about polarities and this crisis illuminates many every day. As a personality that is driven for action and results, staying home and having all my in-person team and coaching work postponed to some indefinite future date evoked big feelings. Anxiety doesn’t begin to describe the feelings. Initially, I was in denial and didn’t get reactive. But a couple of weeks into it, as lockdowns were announced, and the rest of my future in-person bookings went on hold, much bigger feelings arose. Fear, worry, panic, vulnerability. Those are pretty common. But the harder feelings came on more subtly. Stopping or even slowing down feels like laziness to me. And laziness is something that I struggle to be with in myself and in others. It brings up feelings of guilt, shame, blame, rebellion, anger, judgment, self-loathing. These are more paralyzing feelings.

For me, lazy has a negative flavor. No energy. Dull, sleepy, empty. When I experience this state, I try all sorts of methods to force action, inspiration, creativity, generation, outcomes, results. Through this social shutdown, my go-to tools don’t reliably work. I can’t “think myself” out of what is happening. And as I label it “laziness” or feel “lazy”, a spiral of negative thoughts or feelings often follow. Distraction is the fastest path out of the spiral. Enter food, weeding, laundry, more weeding, long phone calls, Facebook, surfing, even an occasional nap. I haven’t taken a nap since I was 3!

Then one morning, I was attempting to meditate (i.e. chase thoughts, catch myself, breathe, center, rinse and repeat), and the reflection suggested an alternative perspective on laziness. Instead, it described a state of “Non-Doing”. When you are in a state of non-doing, the flavor is positive. When I am consciously or intentionally “non-doing”, I am full of energy, even over-flowing sometimes. I feel radiant, bubbling with creativity, vibrating with possibility. Not sleepy but tremendously alive and perfectly aware. For me, non-doing doesn’t mean non-moving, though it can. I can be walking, or gardening, or listening, or lounging in bed, or playing a board game and be in a state of non-doing. It’s about the mindset, my presence, my inner state of calm, faith, trust, acceptance.

The opportunities for growth and self-awareness often come up through times of “darkness” or struggle. Our resiliency muscles are finely honed through times of big change and transition, IF we can remain open and willing to go for the ride.

How is your “ride” through this unprecedented time?

  • Reflect on the last 72 hours. When have you been non-active? What were you focused on? How did you feel? What was the impact to your energy buckets?
  • Over the next 72 hours, notice your unplanned periods of non-doing. Choose and plan non-doing. How does intentional non-doing give you energy? How does it impact your presence? How does it impact your relating or relationships?
  • Watch for the critical voices and set them aside as you explore and nurture non-doing so that your doing will be far more powerful.

Please share this and your experiences with others, for we are definitely all in this together!


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