Well this was my first week with Nothing as one of my daily things to accomplish. As I predicted it turned out to be hard to actually do, or attempt, or schedule. But I can say that on the days that I did manage to do, think and be nothing for 15 full minutes, I felt more calm, less frazzled, more focused and dare I say happier.
As Martha Beck describes in her book, "The Joy Diet" that I'm book blogging with over the next several weeks with The Next Chapter there are a few steps you can take to get to nothing.
First is to Put Up The Privacy Sign, blocking off and blocking out interruptions for a certain time period so you know you won't be disturbed. This is the easiest step for me as I am home during the day by myself during the week. But back in the days of baby and toddlerhood, it would have been laughably impossible and I sympathize with those who find this step hard.
Second is to Let Your Body Vacate. I also find this fairly easy and I mark it up to the childbirth class practice with the Bradley method, which is all about training yourself to completely relax on command. I also have to do this on a daily basis anyways when my pain levels get too high, so I have become fairly adept at "checking out" of my body as needed.
Third is to Vacate Your Mind, as one who possesses an active squirrel mind that is always on the go and never at rest this one is the most challenging. It always has been whenever I've attempted a regular meditation practice. What is key for me is to let go of being perfect at this, and realizing before I begin that just making the attempt *this time* is what is ultimately important for me. Also, I'll note that the more I read about meditation and how to do it, the better I am getting at it myself. The more examples and techniques and practice the better, at least for me.
Beck has several techniques she shares in the book, but the best advice she offers is to realize that your only option is to "simply watch your mind do its thing, without passing any judgments on your thoughts, or trying to control the process. The act of nonjudmental observation is extremely powerful, allowing you to divide your awareness from your thoughts."
She shares a quote from writer Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj which really rang a bell for me:
"Know yourself to be the changeless witness of the changeful mind. Mind is interested in what happens, while the awareness is interested in the mind itself. The child is after the toy, but the mother watches the child not the toy."
The fourth and final step is to Learn to Return, which is meant to make it easier for one to return to the vacated body and mind state. Like leaving a bookmark or place marker that you can snap to easily. I see this place of peace is something to create and use not as an escape from your life, but as a life-preserver.