In her pursuit of slackness and a more peaceful mind yoga teacher Frida Boström is fighting the feeling of uselessness that comes from the idea that doing nothing isn't acceptable in this world that promotes constant achievement. Maybe as humans we have an inability to tackle the idea that nothing actually needs to be done?
A mind in constant movement
It was the last morning of summer vacation, and I woke up early to the sound of wind blowing through trees and birds soaring across blue skies. I was back in town after a couple of weeks of traveling, and on the whole, it had been a good summer. As I carried my coffee cup outside, I felt fairly relaxed. My attention was resting on the surrounding sounds of nature, I was feeling free, and, you know, generally in touch with the universe. Then suddenly, without any prompting whatsoever, my mind shifted to what soon lay in front of me - i.e. regular working life - and within a second, it had entered intense planning mode. That was that. I had been up for about seven and a half minutes, and my feeling of stillness was irrevocably gone.
Like many other people I suffer from a mind that is in constant movement. There is a never-ending stream of ideas running through it, ideas of what to plan and do, things to systematize and improve. Boring stuff that requires an effort, and fun stuff that is quickly done and easily sorted out. In short, things that have the single trait in common that they keep me busy. I am also generally a slave under the impression that what needs to be done in order to achieve peace and quiet is to organize these things the most efficient way possible, then find the discipline required to get them done. For many of us, this sort of mind makes alone-time and relaxation very difficult. And even though meditation normally helps in offering some internal space and calmness, there is something odd at the bottom here that needs to be dragged up to the surface.
Is feeling content in spite of doing nothing even possible?
Beyond the fact that we live in a society that promotes constant achievement, I don't think I am alone in being gifted with the stupid - but nonetheless real - inability to tackle the idea that nothing actually needs to be done. When I try to present this simple fact to myself, it is as if my whole being screams in protest. It's a suspiciously exaggerated reaction - as if on the other side of acceptance lies something that scares me to the bone and that I try my best to avoid. It might sound like what I'm trying to steer clear of is a feeling of uselessness. That it's a matter of self-worth, associating worth with performance and trying to avoid the negative feelings that not doing would lead to. But without getting too far into details, instead what I have found after a couple of batches of therapy, is actually that I seem to be afraid of positive feelings - especially those directed towards myself. As if feeling content in spite of doing nothing would be the most frightening thought on earth. Whichever reason might be true, looking at it from some distance makes it seem rather sad. But it also prompts a new outlook on my routine habits, as well as perhaps some new definitions of progress and achievement.
Prioritize the slots in-between
To me, finding the discipline to work hard has never been an issue, quite the opposite. What this hardworking regime has led to, however, is a number of complete burnouts, which wasn't quite what I was looking for. Now, what I think I need to do instead is practice a reverse sort of discipline, one that prioritizes the slots in-between activities in my schedule. That time between waking up and going to the office in the morning. Those minutes in the shower. Time spent traveling to the studio, or those quiet moments before bed. Those empty stretches of time, I've found, are what need my real respect and consideration. I've always filled them up with doing all sorts of additional things, but managing to keep them empty will from now on be my principal challenge. And if I sometimes succeed in making these moments longer, I will not get stressed out, but instead congratulate myself for some acquired slackness.
Finally, in order to prove loyal to my new scheme, I will simply stop here and go for a break. And if this all sounds familiar to you - perhaps it´s time for you to do the same.
More to read
- Going outside, being lost, and staying found, by Frida Boström
- What is my path cultivating?, by Luke Bache
- I sweat my prayer, by Cecilia Gustafsson
Frida Boström is a Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga instructor (200 hr RYS), educated in Goa, India. She started off as an architect but after a burnout she decided to shift careers. Her first trip to an ashram in India in 2015 led to many more, and evoked her already existing curiosity about philosophy and meditation, as well as fun and physically challenging yoga. Frida teaches yoga classes, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket and Yin yoga, in Sweden and India, and assists at yoga teacher educations in both countries. Read more about Frida at her website or follow her at Instagram: @frida_bostrom