Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Practice of Doing Nothing

by Jennifer Denning

I’m having an unproductive August. I have been visiting family in Ohio, biking, reading a good book, staying in my pajamas. I haven’t been on Facebook much. Haven’t written much or tackled many of those “to-do’s” I had in mind at the beginning of the summer. My children’s rooms remain cluttered as does my closet.

Doing nothing with my daughter, Elise

I’m okay with this. In fact, in this moment of quiet, I’m taking a savoring moment to celebrate the value of relaxing my agendas for a while. I notice that my well-being depends on periods of inner and outer relaxation. The openness of my agenda makes room for the unexpected. It’s in this restfulness that “something more” sometimes shows up. Organically I find myself pulled to write this morning and I feel an aliveness in it; embracing the wind on my face as I bike reaffirms my trust in the goodness of life, and allowing some disorder in my home is good practice for remembering there are many things I am not in control of.

A line from the movie, “Boyhood” sticks with me this morning. One of the characters says something like, “People are always talking about ‘seize the moment’, but I think they’ve got it wrong- the moment seizes us.” Perhaps periods of “doing nothing” create some space for those moments.

A moment that seized me- tranquility at The Holden Arboretum in Ohio

In InterPlay one of our practices is stillness. Taking a deep breath is a moment of stillness. Pausing before speaking is stillness. Listening for what wants to happen next is stillness. We don’t always need long stretches of “doing nothing,” sometimes little daily moments are enough.

Wishing you little sips of stillness as needed and affirmation that sometimes we also need to rest a while with an empty cup!


  1. So perfect for me right now! Thank you Jennifer.

  2. Wonderful writing. Reading it relaxes me and affirms my choice to have a lackadaisical day.

  3. Thank you Ella and Ellie! You are two women whose beings relax and expand me. Glad to know my words were good ones for you to hear right now!