‘Wu Wei’ means – Non-action and is one of the most famous Taoist concepts, repeatedly pointed out in Tao Te Ching, the great Taoist classic. We should not hurry to action, since most things in the world take care of themselves if left alone, and order will eventually prevail. When we do act, we should do so cautiously, or we might destroy more than we solve…..
We are a culture of doers, even at a young age we are taught that doing is best. So much of our time is allocated to doing, that there is often a sense of urgency to get things done, we were brought up to achieve and most of us also have a daily to-do-list too.
Therefore non-doing is a valuable antidote to the effects of activation and over stimulation of the body/mind. The pause of not doing allows our nervous system to return to its own unique steady rhythm and form. It is in non-doing that the body’s innate intelligence can take over which can be immensely healing to both body and mind. Not doing or active relaxation has a very different feel than passive relaxation, it includes alertness and wakefulness with effortless effort.
As human beings coping with the stresses of everyday life and consequently feeling out of balance has become the norm for most of us. Stress is not only harmful to our physical body, it is also one of the ways in which the subtle body deteriorates. Society has conditioned us for input and action. We have become so conditioned, that if we are not doing something, we feel like something is missing in our lives, we may even feel down or depressed. The nature of our minds is to always be processing information and be preoccupied with thoughts. Equally the nature of our bodies is to hold on to the tension that has built up via our overthinking minds and over emotional states. Information overload can occur resulting in stress. In overload, essentially all systems shut down in a mode of self-protection and from a neurological perspective, being in constant action is absolutely not productive. When new information has been introduced to the nervous system, a period of pause (or stillness) is essential so that our systems have the “time and space” to integrate what it has learned.
Therefore making the time to engage in mental stillness on a daily basis is one of the most important health practices available to us. Over time and with practice of ‘the pause’, we are able to regulate our mind state so that we feel both clarity as well as a state of balance, nourishment and inner calm.
‘The pause’ means being able to stop in the middle of doing on a daily basis ( just for 2 – 5 minutes, maybe 3 or 4 times a day), so that we can reach deeper, listen inwardly, reset, find clarity, stillness and spaciousness, which ultimately will have a profound effect in bringing us back to a state of equilibrium. This of course is challenging to slot in to our constantly busy lives, nevertheless very relevant, even though many of us will say “but I don’t have time”. When practiced regularly, it becomes easy and you will find plenty of moments whereby you realise that you can just slot the pause in to your daily routine. Maybe after the school run, sit in your car for 2 minutes in silence before starting up the engine again, or if at the office, just turn away from your screen and close your eyes for a few minutes of silence, whilst standing waiting for the kettle to boil, you could be still and close your eyes, or perhaps you could take a few minutes when you get in from work to sit or lie down and be still and so on, there are always moments whereby you can take the time to be still and pause in your day if you can habitually make the time to do so. I often bring ‘the pause into my vinyasa classes, maybe 4 times in a 90 minute class, we will just stop be completely still and silent for 2 minutes. I will encourage each student to feel, breathe, observe and just be.
It is in ‘the pause’ that we can release feeling overwhelmed, fatigued, stressed and let go of our restless and habitual conditioned mind. When we are silent and introspective, we can receive moments of quiet reflection, we can relax in to our inner knowing, exploring ‘the pause’ in the middle of our day also means we can also experience great wisdom from within ourselves. Practicing ‘the pause’ is the balance between expansion and contraction, from non action we can rebirth right action. When we allow the mind to rest, to focus on one thought, on one breath, on one moment, we free up space for more powerful neurological connections to be made and these connections come from being in a feeling state rather than a doing state. It is In the stillness that we can finally hear our most authentic selves, ultimately tuning in to the more subtle levels of ‘prana’, the life force in the body.
The pause is not falling asleep, being lazy or just hanging out, its not watching TV, gardening, playing tennis, cooking or enjoying a glass of wine.
The pause means to be completely still and silent, it is light and wide full present awareness of right here, right now. It is inner inquiry, intimacy with self, listening deeply and a personal witnessing of whatever is coming up for you. It is the willingness to just ‘be’ and flow with just that.
It takes willpower to just ‘pause’ as it’s not something that was instilled in us as children and society generally doesn’t support this silent inner listening. That is why ‘the pause’ is so important, it offers possibility to alter our mindset and expand our perception of the world around us.
You can practice ‘the pause’ at any time of day and as many times as you feel you need to. All that is required is that for 2 – 5 minutes (or more if you have the time), you close your eyes, be still, be silent and train yourself to observe, inquire and become aware of your breath. As soon as you pay attention to your breath, the breath becomes healing and begins to re-regulate the body’s natural pulse and biorhythms. There is no need to change or manipulate your breath to be anything different than it already is, but the simple act of noticing your breath helps to create balance and over time any necessary changes in your breathing will happen naturally. Our body/mind is miraculous and intelligent when given the right environment, it will flow naturally towards a state of receptivity and balance. Simple noticing of the breath, simple noticing of ourselves, just as we are, here, right now. is the first step in restoring balance and health to all bodily systems. You are simply giving yourself the opportunity to slow down and you may be delightfully surprised with how you feel afterwards.
Know that when you leave ‘the pause’ nothing will have changed on the outside, but everything will feel different on the inside. You will feel like yourself again, and you will be able to return to your everyday life feeling restored, rebooted with a new found passion and inspired spirit. It is so simple, in this still point the whole body has the ability to recharge and reset.
‘The pause’ is a place you can go, to just be. there are no demands, this is a place where you don’t have to be strong, you can stop, let go, re-calibrate, breathe, find balance and feel like yourself again. When you learn the art of non-doing, you will be amazed by how you can do less to achieve more. Most of us like to feel that we’re in control, or being proactive, we feel that it is more important to be doing than doing nothing. However, doing nothing is doing something, and is the best and easiest way to find contentment and true happiness.
‘In the pursuit of the Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone’.
Hope you enjoy your new found wisdom from practicing ‘the pause’
Love B xx