Excerpt from The Next Ten Minutes

I won’t lie to you. This is the hardest exercise in the book.

What You’ll Need

  • Nothing

How to Do It

  1. Do nothing. Move gradually into this exercise. Start by doing nothing in particular. Precisely how you choose to do this is entirely up to you.
  2. Do nothing. Deepen your practice by focusing on what is going on around you. But do nothing in response. Let it all happen. Be passive and refuse to react.
  3. Do nothing. Now start to quiet your body. Find a comfortable position and hold as still as you can. Breathe if you must, but try to keep it to a minimum.
  4. Do nothing. What’s all that activity? It’s your mind, racing around, doing things. Quiet your thoughts. What’s happening inside your body? You can feel your pulse; that’s your blood chugging along. Your eyes blink. You look around. You subtly tense and relax different muscles. You swallow. Stay with it all. Keep noticing it. Keep trying to still all these activities.
  5. Do nothing. Without choosing to do nothing, and without choosing not to do something, continue. Then when you are ready, get up and move on with your life.

Approximately Nothing

Recently, my eight-year-old son has taken to pointing out that it’s impossible to do “nothing.” He’s very proud of having been able to figure this out, and he can go on in great detail about how many things you’re actually doing when you seem to be doing “nothing.” He’s right, of course. And you’re right to wonder why in this exercise you’ve been sent off on such a fool’s errand. What is the point? I used to ask this same question when, as a child, I was told that I was supposed to try to be like Jesus, who, as I was also told, was “perfect.” It’s not possible, I’d say. Be as much like him as it is possible for you to be, was the response. That answer used to rankle me so much. I felt like I was being set up. I could only fail. But in retrospect, I can see a different sort of wisdom in attempting to emulate an ideal that is inherently unachievable.

Why try to do nothing?

Because trying, in and of itself, transforms our awareness. In the act of attempting to achieve a state of nothingness, we reveal to ourselves how many layers of “something” we are doing at any given moment. It brings us face-to-face with ourselves in the present moment. It brings us into reality.

And reality is a very good thing indeed.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Free Excerpts, Lessons, Videos, and Meditations from Beyond Words

Living Your Virgo
Living Your Virgo

Read More
Sacred Vision Oracle Cards: Patience
Sacred Vision Oracle Cards: Patience

Read More
Leaping Like Kierkegaard
Leaping Like Kierkegaard

Read More
Subscribe