Finding the quiet

Today dawns bright with sun. We’ve finally had some gentle soaking rain after a dry spell. Last night the lightening bugs put on their summer light show. I’m watching a house finch feed its children as I sit and write on this day of the summer solstice. The longest day of the year!
I love these long warm days of summer and sun. As I think back to my childhood I remember lazy days of summer spent laying in the hot sand on the shores of Lake Michigan, exploring the dunes along the shore and sailing on a lake that sparkled like diamonds in the light of the summer sun. Those were often days spent doing a lot of ‘nothing’. Oh, to be able to do that again!
As I think of those days I’m reminded that even now in these busy ‘productive’ years of life we should all retain some of our childlike wonder and remember to do nothing once in a while. Over the last 15 months we’ve all had more screen time than we’re used to and we may feel like we’ve been sitting at home ‘doing nothing’ due to health restrictions. And yet, many of us have been keeping busy during that time by doing things around our home that we normally don’t have time to do in our busy life. Take a moment to think about how much true ‘nothing’ you’ve been doing. I hope you were able to have that kind of down time!
As the world begins to speed up again, take a little time to sit with the concept of doing nothing and plan some of it into your schedule going forward. How do I define ‘doing nothing’? I’ll define it loosely and simply ask you to think about how you spent unscheduled time in your childhood or early adulthood, before life sped up and got too busy. Where did you spend that time? What did you do to fill time when there was nothing to do, or what did you do when you needed to chill out? Again, this is happy time, quiet time, ‘me’ time to simply be, rather than to do. Then, take a moment to look at how you can find the time and the space to do more of that now. Schedule some time not just to meditate, but to connect with your inner child and to feed that inner child with simple activities that allow you to do nothing that’s productive, or nothing that requires much thinking or physical activity. Keep it simple!
So how do I do nothing you ask? Read on for a few suggestions.
  • The only real rule here is to do as little as possible. Minimal to no physical movement. Little active thought; no laundry lists, or planning anything. Let go of those kinds of thoughts. Simply be in the space you choose – breathe, relax and notice. If it works for you, work to connect with your inner child, which energetically sits in your sacral energy center, just below your naval. Let your inner child help you tap into the nothingness times of youth.
  • Find a quiet beach nearby. It doesn’t have to be a big beach, just one that’s safe and has times of quiet, like in the early morning, or at the end of the day. Then tuck yourself away in a safe, secluded spot and sit or lay there with your eyes closed. Listen to the sounds around you. Can you hear the sound of the water? Breathe in the fresh air, notice the breeze and how it feels on your skin. Simply be there and breathe it all in.
  • Find a quiet place in your yard or a safe natural spot near your home. Then simply lay on the grass and watch the sky above you. You can lay on a blanket, but try to get some bare skin on Mother Earth so her beautiful energy helps you balance. As in the suggestion above, use all your senses to notice what’s around you. Remember, the goal is simply to be and not do. So, relax and watch the clouds go by! Be an observer and come from a place of childlike wonder.
  • Take in the evening light show. Not fireworks, but lightning bugs! Here in the Midwest, through mid-July at least, you can find them just after dark in open areas that haven’t been treated with pesticides or herbicides of any kind. Make sure you have a safe spot to observe from, and either sit or lay and watch their magic lights. If it’s a clear night, or you’re in a place without lightning bugs, lay and watch the stars too. As I mentioned above, use all your senses and just take time to experience and relax.
  • Think of other similar ways to slow down and take in the natural world around you. If you aren’t able to find a safe, quiet space outdoors, you can put on some relaxing music and lay down in a comfortable place in your home and take a trip to one of these places in your mind. Visualize everything around you as if you were there. Notice and take in the gentle sights and sounds around you. Our brain doesn’t know the difference between thinking and doing these things, so your body will relax as it responds to wherever your mind takes you.
  • One you’ve completed your act of nothing, take some time to journal. What did you notice? How did your body respond? What was different within you when you finished as compared to when you started? Also, notice how you sleep that night and how you respond to stress the next day. How is that different? What shifted?
Summer is the perfect time to get back into the routine of doing nothing so we can let our body, mind, and spirit come back to a place of better balance. Going forward, build these times of doing nothing into your routine, ideally when you don’t have to rush right off afterward, but know that any amount of nothing will be beneficial! Again, this is not meditation, it’s simply being present in the moment with no major intention other than being in nothing.
As I finish writing, the sun is warm on my back. The birdsong is all around me as I sit on the front porch. The pond is as smooth as a mirror and I notice the peace that surrounds me. Before I rush on with my day, I take a few moments to enjoy the act of doing nothing, which fills me with peace that I’ll take with me into my day.
May your summer be filled with peace, joy, balance, and a little bit of nothing at all!
Summer Solstice Blessings and Joy,