Why we all need time for nothing
I felt a sense of relief when the door has closed. Shortly before leaving, my eyes caught a pile of dirty dishes on the kitchen table. I’ve turned away pretending they’re not there.
When I sat in the S-bahn, I could feel the tiredness around me. It was early afternoon. The train was packed. The guy next to me fell asleep, his hands holding tight onto his rucksack. I closed my eyes for a moment. Why haven’t I left one hour earlier I asked myself? Well, never mind… better late than never. I’m here now, ready and a little bit excited too cause I have a date. A date with myself in my secret forest space outside the city. I come here regularly on my own for what I call – „doing nothing“.
Experiencing the world around me
From the moment I enter the forest, there is something strange happening inside my brain. Maybe it’s the green color that surrounds me or the sounds that I start to hear? I don’t know exactly, but it seems like I’m moving into a different mode. I know this feeling from swimming. Every time I had a longer break from being in water, I get a sense of astonishment. How could I have left it for so long? It’s like falling in love again with something you cherish so deeply, but have clearly forgotten about your passion.
The forest is the same. It makes me slow down and smile. I observe, listen, smell or touch things around me. My senses awaken in a new quality. I also take my shoes off and allow my feet to touch the soil, the leaves and little stones. I love walking barefoot and can feel the benefits almost instantly. It’s not only my feet that are feeling more alive. My whole body gets in a state of calmness. It’s so refreshing just to be in the now with the support of the Earth underneath.
Less action, more awareness
My idea of doing nothing is based on reducing the amount of distractions around me. Being in that space means: no phone, no social media, no podcasts, no books, no new projects or thoughts from outside. My time for nothing is reserved to be with what already is within me. And trust me, there is plenty! It is time to reflect on what is happening in my life. Sometimes I write things down or just lie in the grass and look at the sky.
I’ve realized that what makes it possible for me to do that, is this immense silence around me. There are no questions being asked, no issues to solve for others. I can start to hear my own thoughts, the ones that really are mine. No, I don’t feel bored. I enjoy this peaceful state moment after moment. Sinking into this quietness it’s like stepping into a calm lake in the evening. It’s like meditating with my eyes open.
Becoming empty so we can live fully
It’s no surprise to me why I’ve developed my forest routine. I know that I often fall into the „busyness trap“. Do you know this feeling of a never-ending to-do list? I call it a trap cause the list and the work will never finish. There is no final cut on a Friday at 5pm. Even if we stop working, the list just expands in our mental world with new tasks and deadlines, leaving us tired and unable to rest. It took me some time, but I’ve decided, I’m not playing this game anymore. I don’t want a busy life. I want it to be meaningful and simple.
My time in the woods is a wonderful reminder that other ways are possible. Life can be empty, slow and simple. This practice allows me to take a step back and become mindful where my attention goes. This way I can focus on the really important stuff. Inviting slowness into my life means being more with nature, with the seasons, with my senses, my body and my breath. Then I get trust that there is time for everything.
Ready to encounter life
When I came back home after walking through fields and forest for a few hours, I felt refreshed. The dirty dishes were still standing in the very same spot, but they didn’t bother me anymore. It was so lovely to observe my family as they were preparing dinner. Suddenly I felt deep gratitude. My heart was open to meet them and to be together. I felt space. I was ready to encounter life.