When nothing is something

Froggy doing nothing

To do nothing is also a good remedy – HIPPOCRATES

For seven years I had a wonderful friend whom I met with once a week. Since his passing (RIP John Edwin Sheehan 1920 – 2007) I have flashbacks of the things he taught me. He would say ‘When you don’t know what to do, do nothing’. At the time, my impulsive nature and ‘bull in a china shop’ personality found it hard to fathom. To me, it was procrastination which is never a positive thing. But there was truth in it of course. Perhaps it meant to think about the situation longer and if action was needed later, it would be well thought out.

But what are the situations when to do nothing is actually something; a choice and not procrastination? Most likely when something is a consumable, expendable, time related and the opportunity will be lost forever if you don’t do it then. It could be using a non refundable plane ticket perhaps or speaking up at the time someone else is being bullied, or need rescuing from a burning car.

Sometimes when people are talking to me, if I am present and aware of awareness, I can catch myself reacting inside to what they are saying. If my ego was present instead, I might formulate a biting retort. But being aware means I can choose instead to do nothing. Smile and let it go; a much more peaceful alternative. In the past my favourite thing was to walk off in a huff when my feelings overcame me. If I had ‘done nothing’ and stayed put to see how things played out instead, it would have saved me years of uncomfortable impasses in relationships, especially when they didn’t come after me.

Anyway I digress. The image of the frog above suggests that doing nothing is lazy, idle. Look at the way his hands rest on his protruding belly. However, being still and silent like this has so many benefits we are told. It reduces your stress levels, calms your breathing so that you take in more oxygen (which boosts your immunity), makes you more aware and able to see the big picture in life, leading to better outcomes for you and all around you. You can tune in to your inner intuition and make better choices. I wonder if Hippocrates was aware of these?

I seem to be tuned in to the message that meditation is key to everything! For me, being aware of awareness as much as possible is almost like a mini meditation throughout the day, where I catch myself and think ‘this is me, thinking about me’, instead of I have to do this and she should do that or I hate this and I feel bloated.  Whatever 🙂

This being really aware is something I used to do as a child when I looked in the mirror (this is me looking at me) but it freaked me out at the time as I didn’t understand about being trapped in your head and ego and that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Eckhart Tolle is all about that.

So today, as much as possible I am going to ‘do nothing’. I will accept everything that happens, all that I have to do and everything that is said. I will listen as much as I can, react as little as possible, except with curiosity and not run around doing more than necessary for some outdated belief of being more of anything, to please my ego.

Hippocrates’ remedy for what? No clue exactly but let’s see. Maybe it’s the answer to inner peace.



12 thoughts on “When nothing is something

  1. I have a copy of that frog picture saved on my computer except it has “and not a single f*ck was given that day” scrawled across the bottom. I feel like that sentiment relates to what you wrote here. 🙂

  2. Yes, sometimes doing nothing is doing everything. Great blog Emma. I’ll go have a look at Julien’s link. Looks intriguing.

  3. Joy(i’ve given you this name over Emma :), thanks for stopping over my way. I cannot reply on the post directly, used up the reply buttons, or something. so nice to share the year of birth and joy with you! Your froggy reminds me of my soft belly practice 😉 http://lifeasimprov.com/2013/01/25/soft/
    much joy to you today x! marga

    • I get called all sorts at work and will not correct being called Anna, Gemma, Hemma (?), Emmy and Summer, so I gladly accept Joy, even though you know my real name. We also share the teenage girls. Mine are 17 and 19, though I also have a 15 year old son who is somewhat outnumbered in this female household. I read and enjoyed your soft belly practice – it makes so much sense that when we are stuck in our heads and trying to ‘achieve’ something, we tighten up and pull in our bellies. I have much to learn here. My shoulders are always sore. Thank you Marga

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