Preface: Oh, the irony! Yesterday’s post is being published today, because my computer decided that it, too, would have a day of “doing nothing.” As so often happens when an unexpected glitch occurs (tech-related or otherwise), a lesson of some sort may be revealed. I have written previously about my tendency to be tethered too tightly to schedules: When I became unable to post Silent Sunday on Sunday, I felt the quick tightening and building of body heat that are my signs of burgeoning anxiety. I am happy to say, however, that I was able to turn those physical sensations off almost as easily as they sprung forth; I accepted the delay, turned to tech support for help, advanced my tech knowledge (one tiny baby step at a time), and now am able to share the latest article with you. Happy Monday…
“It’s the least I can do…” Typically, these words are uttered in response to a “thank you” from another person. We may reply with the phrase to affirm that the other person needs are great, to say that we wish we could relieve them of their burdens. But today, I invoke “the least you can do” with the idea of granting yourself permission to embark on a period of minimal activity.
This idea arose from a recent day of feeling the cumulative effects of stultifying heat and humidity. I had spent a day upholding various commitments—each of which required some degree of immersion in Mother Nature’s heavy stew: By the end of the day, I felt so depleted that to ease into a relaxed mode for sleep felt like another chore. The next day, I awoke with a headache and unyielding queasiness. When plenty of water and light movement did nothing to assuage the feeling of heaviness and dizziness, I circled my own wagons: In order to combat the leaden stillness within, I would do nothing. Instead, I would fully inhabit a place of stillness: the least I could do.
While your experience of “hitting a wall” may not emanate from feeling Nature’s heat, it may well stem from a “heated” situation, or from too much stimulating activity, or from over scheduling or overcommitting yourself to others. Whatever the cause, the result can be similar: a lack of reserve energy to care properly for yourself. In that case, I suggest that you shift your mindset from, “What can I do?” to “It’s okay to do nothing.”
The idea of doing little or nothing can provoke a mild sense of anxiety for “doers” who crave stimulation and thrive on productivity. Yet even their bodies and minds can become overburdened and thus require relief. So whatever has brought you to the point where your body feels leaden; your mind can hardly form or retain a thought; and your inner rhythms have slowed to barely-there, elect to delve into the depths of your fatigue: When you feel as if you can do no more… do nothing.
For today’s (non-)practice, lie down on your back. You may feel that you want to lie on the couch or in bed: Go ahead and do that. Eventually, though, slide yourself onto the floor (on a carpet or mat), so that your body has a chance to feel the firm support of the ground beneath you. You can choose to embody svasana with eyes closed or open: Sometimes, staring at the ceiling can provide a more tranquilizing effect than closing the eyes, which for some, may invite a flow of distracting thoughts.
After you have been in svasana for as long as feels right, you will feel an urge to shift to another position or mode of activity. When that moment arrives, turn over to lie on your front; turn your head to one side, and let your arms move into whatever position feels comfortable. In this posture, do close your eyes; focus on the sensation of your breath. In this prone position, breathing naturally requires a bit more effort, as your belly and chest have to move against the floor as you breathe. This slight resistance fosters a deeper, more complete breath.
From this version of svasana, move yourself into a curled fetal position, or into Baby Pose. Remain here for as long as you like. When you are ready to change position, come into a seated posture of your choice; prop yourself in whatever way you like, including the support of a chair or couch if you like. With closed eyes, let your hands rest on your thighs, palms up or down: Your personal needs intuitively will direct your hands into the proper placement. Now, simply sit and breathe deeply, in and out through the nose.
After this final meditation, allow yourself to continue the theme of “nothingness.” Having fully permitted yourself to abide this state, continue your day with the very least you can do.