To practice non doing is to immerse yourself in the flow of the universe. It’s about allowing things to unfold, rather than struggling to control outcomes. This is one of the hardest of life’s lessons and one that challenges me daily.
Contrary to how it may seem, non doing requires conscious action, focus and surrender. It’s about using your energy productively rather than pushing against forces that are much greater than you.
The Zen of motorcycling occurs through non doing. New riders struggle with managing the motorcycle before they understand how to use its energy effectively. Once you understand how to access and trust the bike’s power, you experience the freedom and bliss of non doing.
7 Ways to Practice Non Doing
- Let go of your need to control. Your connection to Spirit connects you to all other things. That power which causes the planets to orbit around the sun, tides to ebb and flow on a precise schedule and seedlings to poke their head through the ground in spring, is unstoppable—and it’s in you. It’s the power of creativity and possibility. Catching myself when it seems nothing is going right, I ask, “Who do I think I am to try and resist?” All it does is create fatigue.
- Allow things to unfold. The feeling of being at one with your bike happens when you’re immersed in the present, not worried about something down the road. There’s no point putting energy into something that will take care of itself, projects that are out of scope, or meddling in another’s business. Focus on the task at hand and the gifts of the present moment.
- Stop micromanaging. It’s easy to get caught in the details when you lose sight of the big picture. Keeping your eyes on your destination and looking as far ahead as possible are keys to successful riding. Getting tangled in minutia serves little purpose other than to divert energy and thwart momentum.
- Deal with your addiction to work. Our culture values hard work without discerning whether or not that work is value-added. You can push your bike down the road, but why would you? Use the power that’s there to effortlessly move it to where you’re going, freeing up time and energy for something else. Anything can look like work if you stay busy, but the real question is, “What value are your efforts making to your work, family or community?” Learn to prioritize and engage in activities that align with your purpose.
- Realize you’re expendable. You aren’t the only one who can ride your motorcycle. We convince ourselves that what we’re doing is so important, that it demands our immediate attention. People are counting on us. Then we’re crushed when relationships end, companies downsize and children no longer need us. The planets will continue to evolve around the sun, even when we’re not around.
- Address your emotions. Allowing yourself to pause and sense your feelings requires stillness and courage. It can be painful, yet your feelings are a powerful barometer of what your spirit needs. Just as it’s important to routinely check your bike for wear and give it the attention it needs, so too is it important to take the time to care for your Self.
- Stop taking yourself so seriously. Go with the flow and learn to laugh at yourself. Life is an adventure to be enjoyed. Deal with the inevitable detours and areas of construction as they arise, but keep moving. When rain clouds appear, stop, put on your rain gear, and get back on the road. Staying in the present diffuses worry, frees up creativity and boosts productivity.
Choose to practice non doing and watch your world change. Your eyes will open to the possibilities you were too busy to notice. Your life story becomes richer, more enjoyable and satisfying.
In The Four Insights, Dr. Alberto Villoldo draws from indigenous cultures to identify the practices that allow us to change our perception of the events that happen to us, remove the association with cause and effect and learn to live in harmony with our world. One of these is the practice of non doing.