Imagine that you decide to sit with your coffee and just let your mind wander for a few minutes. Maybe your thoughts start spinning, or distractions try and draw you away from your peaceful moment. But let’s say you just stick with it for a little longer...
It’s like looking at the stars and realizing what a small part of the whole universe you are. This perspective brings a sense of calm and connection to your body, and your muscles start to relax. There’s less pressure to perform and be productive with this perspective of the greater world and the passage of time.
Then maybe your brain thinks of that argument or that play time with your kids, and you now see that in this larger context. You begin to prioritize your relationships, and maybe start thinking of how you can strengthen them. Maybe, like me, you even think of how you can bring these new realizations and groundedness into your community, or your job, to share with others.
All this from just sitting with your coffee for maybe 15 minutes. Our brain works a lot faster than I can type or you can read, but all these thoughts happen in just seconds for me. And I oscillate from my thoughts to the birds, for instance. Back and forth, just noticing, thinking, relaxing.
I have had Niksen time that relaxes and calms me, and I have had Niksen time that inspires me with new ideas and wonderings that I then follow up on. It is in both of these instances that Niksen creates more meaning in my life. It helps me set my priorities, and helps me take the next steps in my life with more of a sense of purpose and groundedness. In mindfulness terms, it helps me to be more present and get clear on what’s important, so I can make more time for those things in my life.
In a sense, I am creating something out of nothing. In physics, it’s called “creatio ex nihilo.” In many religions, it’s only God who can do this, which can make Niksen a strong spiritual practice. Whether you believe in Science or in God, or in both, doing nothing really does create, or at least open space for, something new. Maybe it’s a new idea, or a new feeling, but I walk away from Niksen time just a little bit different than I was before. My step is a bit lighter, and calmer, and more aware. It’s like walking away from a meditation session, but with more energy (for me at least, meditation puts me into a sleepy trance).
This is why taking breaks is so crucial to productivity. We tend to think we have to be productive ALL the time in our society. Whether it’s striving to complete our work, be a good parent, or finish household chores. But by taking breaks, we’re not only getting the rest we dearly need, but we’re building up reserves of energy and thought that will allow us to be more productive and creative.
As an introvert, I’ve always enjoyed a little more down time than the average extroverted or type A person, and so relaxing and doing nothing wasn’t new to me. Somehow during the pandemic with all the extra down time though, I was able to really sink into doing nothing, and learn more about why it’s important. I was able to see my mind making new connections, my body not just relaxing, but feeling more energized. I was able to shed the guilt of feeling “lazy,” and embrace the benefits of doing nothing. I got to create many, many new things, both professionally and personally, and I am so grateful for this time and all the different ways it has brought meaning to my life.
Teacher, mother, lover of lounging in nature. This blog documents my experience with Niksening in nature and applying this type of minimalism to all aspects of my life, in order to simplify and amplify the best parts of life.
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