Have you been lazy enough today?

So it’s been a year. I don’t need to tell you. But to shift to something positive lets reflect on some of the good things that came out of 2020. For me one of those things has been the increased ‘free’ time.

I’m sure if you ask anyone who is still lucky enough to have job and can work from home – they might miss a lot of things about the office but they don’t miss that hour stuck in the gridlock Belfast traffic every day. They don’t miss not having time to hang out with the family, to spend quality time with the kids. They don’t miss the stress of rush hour and sandwiches at the desk. For many 2020 has given us back some quality time.

We know that non-stop busyness isn’t sustainable healthy or joyful but in the old days ‘I’m so busy’ was practically a mantra for many. I’m so busy translated as I’m so important I can’t go your event or just call for a cuppa tea. I don’t have time to watch that latest series or read a book. There’s no time for walks and there’s definitely not enough time for sleep. Some people even boasted about how little sleep they got… Of course, this year has been filled with stress, worry and heartache for many but it’s also given us back space time that we maybe didn’t know we needed.

For those who are sick, recuperating or pregnant – this ‘down time’ the less frenetic pace of life has actually been an aid to healing and proper rest. Statistics show that instances of premature babies have decreased dramatically – because woman aren’t running around busy, the way they used to.

When we have extra time and there is nothing we can do and nowhere to go then the practice of laziness is perfect. When we are lazy we have a chance to really rest, reset and recuperate. The word lazy is often used as an insult but actually it’s a wisdom practice to be lazy  It’s an antidote to the modern world.

At Plum Village the French mindfulness retreat centre I’ve been visiting every year since 2005 (except 2020 of course!) every week they have a very important day called ‘lazy day’. The Village’s founder, Zen Master Thich Nhat (Thay) always asks retreatants on lazy day: ‘have you been lazy enough today?’

It used to blow my mind as I would use lazy day to walk an hour to the nearest town, shop, catch up on emails in the internet café and run about with my new friends all day like a wee busy bee… It took me a few years to really understand that being lazy means doing nothing and going nowhere just allowing the day to unfold naturally… now I’m an expert at it and 2020 has definitely boosted my laziness practice. 

Thây said: “When we lose ourselves in activities we diminish our quality of being. We do ourselves a disservice. It’s important to preserve ourselves, to maintain our freshness and good humour, our joy, and compassion.”

It seems our former busyness has been covering up for our fear of stopping, our fear of really get in touch with our inner world. We really do need to stop the glorification of busyness… No one on their death bed ever said ‘I wish I’d spent more time in the office’. No they say thing along the lines of: ‘I wish I’d spent more time having fun, more time with my friends and family, more time just enjoying this one precious life I have been given.’

I’ve always been inspired by the movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s day off and it’s famous quote: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” A lazy day a day off. Use Ferris as your inspiration if you’ve seen the movie 

In Japan they actually have a word that means ‘overwork death’ – Karoshi. Us humans we’re not built to be ‘on’ 24/7.  I actually feel sorry for those born after 2000 (the first iPhone came out in 2007) because they’ve probably never spent any time being bored.

Neuroscience now shows us that being bored is good for us.  We need to unplug our brains from time to time too.  I don’t know if kids these days say the famous line ‘are we there yet’ anymore…? They’re probably all too busy on their devices to ‘keep them quiet’. But being bored actually leads to creativity, noticing the world around and increased imagination.

At this time of year, we can be inspired by nature, the dark nights, the cold days are calling us to rest and hibernate like the animals do.  We need to learn that ‘good enough is good enough’. To let go of perfectionism, be kinder to our wee selves and work smarter not harder.  I really hope 2020 has taught us all this lesson and that the digital economy will enable us to have more time that we can spend being just doing nothing.

I’m not advocating being lazy ALL the time! But one day a week, (all religions advocate for a rest day funnily enough) the occasional afternoon off or regular hour of ‘down time’ will really reap all sorts of rewards!

Do yourself a favour rest and sing along with Bruno Mars… ‘today I’m not doing anything’ .

*****

‘Today I’m not doing anything’ is the song I chose when I was speaking about laziness to Lynette Fay on her Radio Ulster afternoon show on the 31 December 2020. It’s available to listen again for 30 days on BBC Radio Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000qn83?at_custom2=twitter&at_custom4=A66AF7AA-4B8C-11EB-9657-D5F0923C408C&at_custom1=link&at_campaign=64&at_custom3=BBC%20Radio%20Ulster&at_medium=custom7

Guest on Cate Conway’s podcast

I was honoured to be interviewed by the gorgeous @radio.cate for her NEW podcast. 🔊📡Cate is doing the podcast in response to the death of her best friend fellow radio presenter Stephen Clements. 🖤

All episodes so far explore grief and how to get through something as sad and irrevocable as suicide😰

I think Kate is So brave, authentic and heartfelt 💔

Im sure these podcasts will help many people 🙏🏽💗🦋

If you do listen to us I’d love to know what you thought 💭😊

Please search your usual podcast place ‘Cate Conway’ and you will find it or copy this link:

http://ow.ly/Qhms50BA06a

 #podcast #CateConway #StephenClements #grief #resilience #helpingmanypeople #mentalhealthmatters

Blooming of a Lotus course -Reflections on week 4, day 2 meditation: Looking deeply, healing

I have experienced a lot of physical pain. Everyone has. We all have our own challenges. Pain is part of being human. From I was a baby I had sore throats and tonsillitis. When I was seven I went to hospital for a week got my tonsils removed. I must have had a lot of pain but I dont remember it. We block out pain its easier.

When I was 21, I was knocked down by a car outside Queens University and spent 22 days in hospital. Tossed 15 feet into the air, shattering the car windscreen and landing in the middle of the Stranmillis Road on my left side. I ended up (luckily) with just a broken tib n fib, a muscle hernia in my leg, shattered shoulder and some stitches in my eye… Those injuries 25 years later constantly cause me trouble and pain. I’ve also added a few more: twisting my ankle, breaking my foot. staving my finger…. I’ve always something, sore stomachs, itchy hives, bad hip… I’m only in my 40s but I could complain like an old granny if I you let me… Several times in the last few years, my back has seized up just like an old granny and I’ve had to get physio in order to straighten up and walk again! It’s wild… So TNH’s words:

“To smile to our pain is the wisest, the most intelligent, the most beautiful things we can do. There is no better way.” 

is a challenge to say the least.  He must be kidding right? 

And I’m just talking physical pain – we all know emotional and psychological pain can be, and oftentimes is, much worse – sometimes even causing physical pain… and I’ve had plenty of that too, thank you very much…

So this meditation practice it is nothing if not challenging. Right now my right foot is broken and and throbbing and calling out its brokenness – can I smile  to it… I think of how silly I was in doing it. I smile to my silly self. It’s currently healing. I smile to the amazing healing process of the body. Its only one tiny part that is painful, I smile to the rest of my body not in pain. I smile to this foot pain as Thay told me too… I’m smiling, breathing. Its ok, I can do it 🙂

It’s hard to smile that the things we don’t like. To do it is a practice. If it was easy we wouldn’t have to practice it. Even just smiling to our body can be challenging. I’ve been practising it for a while. I have a lot of gratitude for my body and all that it can do and has been through. I smile in gratitude.

But Thay doesn’t stop there, in this meditation he advises us to smile at our mind, to the roots of pain in our mind. To furthermore smile at the roots of fear, the roots of insecurity, the roots of sadness, the roots of anger, the roots of jealously, the roots of attachment, the roots of being caught.  He then saves us by advising we also smile to the root of our joy, the roots of the joy of freedom, the roots of the joy of relaxation. The roots of the joy of letting go and the roots of neutral feeling.

I can smile at my fear. That’s an easy one for me. It is my practice to feel the fear and do it anyway. I love to feel fear and challenge myself to overcome it. Fear for me is feeling small. I smile and rise up to that with the mantra as Jesus said: ‘do not be afraid.’ Ok. I smile.

I smile at my insecurity. Especially in the past. How small I felt, how I’m only a wee girl. How I thought ‘I can’t do that’. How I still sometimes feel that. I smile and say ‘it’s ok’. How empowering to smile at fear. I am Sasha Fierce – smiling 🙂

I smile at my sadness, though it’s not easy. Sadness is still here with me. Sadness at my my miscarriages. Babies that never were. A life that could have been their’s and mine. Smiling in compassion for myself, smiling because what else can I do? I said ‘i can’t accept it’, he said ‘but you have no choice’. Force that smile. see what happens. Keep practising.

I smile at my anger. But I also brood on it. I was SO right. I was justified, their behaviour was outrageous. My ego was so snubbed! How dare they! I smile at my own self-righteousness. I smile because of my stupidity and ignorance. I smile because Thay says ‘there is no better way’. I smile but I still need to practice more.

I smile at my jealously. It’s active. I want that too. I wish I had that. Why can’t I also have that? Why does she get that and not me? Wow jealousy is present in me. Wow i’m also a human, I feel jealousy. It’s ok, let go. Smile.

Smiling at the roots of attachment. Is this attachment healthy or unhealthy? I am judging myself. I am a human being of course I have attachment. I don’t have to change anything. Just smile.

Smiling at the roots of being caught. Oh how easy it is to be caught! How easy to fall into that web, to get hooked, or sucked in as they say here 🙂 I smile so next time I can see before I’m sunk.

Smiling to the roots of the feeling of joy! Aww this feeling of joy, so simple, all the rest falls away. Just sitting, breathing, smiling.

Smiling to the roots of the joy of freedom, I breath out. Freedom is my mantra. I just want to be free… maybe my ideas and way of being free were wrong? I am learning. This is freedom, free from the tyranny of the thinking mind. Just smiling.

Looking at the roots of the joy of relaxation. How much do I love relaxation?! Teaching it, practising it, benefiting from it… every day. I remember the time I practiced it every day. I should practice it every day. I should practice it right now. Smiling. Relaxing. Smiling again.

The joy of letting go. I sing it: ‘Let it go, Let it go….’ There is a poem too: ‘She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.’ The joy. Smiling.

Roots of neutral feeling. Smiling. The relief. No right, no wrong, no good nor bad. Not tight, not loose, not black or white. Just neutral. The orange cup, the green leaf, the air on my skin, the in breath, the out breath, the blue wall, the yellow covered chair, the multicoloured cushion, the beige carpet. No comment, no goal, no attainment. Just smiling. Peace. 🙂 

Namaste X