5 Ways to Master the Art of Doing without Doing

camillia lee rocks-beach-yogaWhat lights you up? What fuels your soul and fills your heart?

This is the art of doing without doing. Achieving without efforting. Receiving without feeling like you’re trying. This is the magic of Wu Wei—the art of “not doing”, or doing without doing. Tuned into the ebb and flow and cycles of the natural world, and able to respond to what arises.

Although confusing when we think of it in the context of our modern world, in action the art of doing without doing is simple. It’s simple. It’s not easy. This is because it’s counter to what so much dominant messaging and cultural mores and expectations communicate to us.

We get the message that successful, admirable members of society are always on the go. They’re making things happen, brokering deals, responding to emails day and night, getting up early and hardly sleeping. We’re told that these are the money-makers, the world-changers and the achievers. These are our models for life mastery.

But they don’t need to be. There’s a way to be yin—in the flow and receptive—that is just as effective as yang—pushing things ahead and taking action. In fact, in my experience, it’s even more effective.

I became an assistant magazine editor of three publications at 25 years old. At the time, it didn’t seem young or surprising. I’d spent the entire previous decade making myself make that happen. Work and my future dream gig came first, rest and taking care of myself came last. I pushed and pushed…and when I didn’t have anything left to push with I took sleeping pills. So that was fun.

I made it, and then I wondered, “Was it worth it? Is it worth it?” I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and sometimes couldn’t go a week without a panic attack. But I was damn good at my job. I had succeeded, right?

Flash forward to today, where—nearly a decade after I first stepped onto a yoga mat—I’m making more money, doing nothing that feels like ‘work’, and completely, totally lit up, on fire, and full-filled. And I’m learning, sometimes painfully and slowly, how to do it yin-style. I’m way more at ease, in the flow, and able to respond to what arises. Hello, greater-than-I-ever-imagined opportunities. Goodbye too much stress.

5 Ways to Master the Art of Doing without Doing

  1. Take action in a way that feels easy. You get to decide what to prioritize and what comes first on your to-do list. When you look at what you’ve decided to get done, what feels like the easiest, least stressful thing?
  2. Do what lights you up. Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that make your heart sing. Literally: what do you feel in your chest when you consider saying ‘yes’? Constriction—like you can’t breathe? Or expansion—like you are being deeply breathed?
  3. Listen to your Sat Guru. Sat = true. Guru = darkness to light; teacher. You have your own inner teacher within you, leading you out of the darkness of stress and overwhelm and into the light of your being. When something doesn’t feel right for you, listen. No matter what other people say.
  4. Let there be spaces in your togetherness. Got it all together? Still feel stressed and anxious? That’s your body telling you that even though your digital personal assistant has your entire day mapped out and organized and all together; it’s not solving the core of what’s causing you stress. You need space in your day and your life for the unexpected. You need space for your dharma and what you’re destined for to arise. Trust me, it will be more than you ever expected.
  5. When things are slower, be slower. When things speed up, don’t resist it. Go with the ebb and flow of your life and trust that the slow-times will pass, just like the times that feel too busy. Suddenly, you’re appreciating both polarities.

Suddenly, you’re not just yang; you’re yin, too.

And, as master yin yoga teacher Bernie Clark says, “Yin is in.”

Good luck! Big love,


[Editor’s note: This is another totally awesome, soul-inspiring guest post from Lindsey Lewis, life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.]

Photo credit: Camillia Lee

Read more about Yin Yoga:

Manduka Large Horizontal #1


5 Ways Yoga Helps

Yoga means union. In a world that bombards us with clichés regarding a mind, body & spirit connection, this is very important. But in real people terms, what is the connection between the poses (asanas), breathing (pranayama), philosophy, and Western psychology? David Frawley, author of Yoga and Ayurveda writes: Yogic methods cover the entire field […]


Sacred Sound: Mantras & Chants

Many years ago when I started a yoga practice, I had no idea what it would reveal to me. I was just hoping for a little extra strength and flexibility, and I did what I could to avoid all the spiritual trappings of the practice. But, somehow, as it does, the yoga did its job. […]

saagara--meditate with the world--see and do together

Crowdfunding Meditation Across the World: See & Do Together Could Use a Little Spare Change

[UPDATE: Check out this new video describing the project…] How cool would it be to meditate with millions of people across the world at the same time?  It would be totally awesome! Well, we’re big fans of the mindfulness-based tech company, Saagara, which recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to aid in the development of a new meditation […]


NamaSTAY Yoga Towel Review and Giveaway!

I know when I practice yoga, whether hot or otherwise, I’m usually a sweaty disaster. It’s a good disaster, but sweaty nonetheless. Since slip-and-slide yoga mat syndrome is totally uncool, over the years I’ve added a variety of yoga towels to my collection to help with soaking up sweat, providing a solid practice surface, and […]


5 Simple Tips for Becoming a Master of Meditation

Want to take on meditation? Here’s 5 tips to help: Sit.  Learning to sit can be a challenge. Do some light stretches before sitting down and then start off with just 5 minutes of sitting–see how it feels. Remember there are many different ways to sit. Find a seat comfortable for you, in a chair, on a […]

saagara--meditate with the world--see and do together

Crowdfunding Meditation Across the World: See & Do Together Could Use a Little Spare Change

[UPDATE: Check out this new video describing the project…] How cool would it be to meditate with millions of people across the world at the same time?  It would be totally awesome! Well, we’re big fans of the mindfulness-based tech company, Saagara, which recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to aid in the development of a new meditation […]

aum - mc yogi 1

A.U.M…(Almighty Universal Magnetic)…by MC Yogi…definitely going on repeat

Time to turn up the volume! MC Yogi just released a sweet new music video that has me pumped about his new album, Mantras, Beats & Meditations, set to release on April 1. His videos always have great visuals, but A.U.M. may be my new favorite. It’s tough to beat the combination of great lyrics, thumping […]


  1. This is good advice. Do you have any ideas on working and earning money without actually having to go to work everyday ;)

  2. I was looking for health related website to review many issue. Now I’ve found your blog site with lots of amazing information. You did really excellent work. I’ll read your blog regular basis

  3. Great article! And I like a nice succinct list – that is a list I can do!

  4. This is awesome philosophy, something completely new to me. Like many, I’ve been caught up with relentless pursuing, doing and striving. But I wonder sometimes if happiness and satisfaction is so hard to achieve. Maybe the answer lies in Yin

  5. Having the correct inner state before doing something is very important. I have found rushing in to something never works as well. If you are under pressure to get something done quickly or soon , take a couple of minutes, go back to a quiet inner state and then get on with the task to be done. Works great for me.

  6. I love this article as I can completely empathize. I went from being a partner in and then running my own private equity investment fund where I convinced myself that life was gratifying because I was the person you described in paragraph three. After a life-altering event (and yes, coming to yoga was a part of it), I now work without working by building an eco-conscious company where our first product is a yoga mat made from recycled rubber tires. So while I still respond to e-mails all the time and shirk on my sleep, I have yet to feel like I am actually working.

  7. Kate Carmichael, Austin TX says:

    This article is life changing for me- I am always pushing, pushing, pushing, demanding more of myself while ignoring my natural tendencies and needs. Reading this has definitely created a shift in my thinking. THANK YOU.

  8. Love this piece. I recently took a very low key, relaxing vacation during which I gave this topic a lot of thought, in particular with regards to doing what “lights me up”. Upon return I somehow accomplished several tasks I had been putting off because I didn’t have the knowledge base… with relative ease, in very little time AND in a way that was totally enjoyable for ME. I had realized during my pondering that I was unknowingly resisting being the “real me” in many ways. Sometimes as yoga teachers I feel we expect ourselves to have all the answers since people look to us for them. On the way back I started at blog post I’ve yet to publish on the topic and hope you don’t mind me linking this article to the post when finished. Thanks a bunch!

  9. Nice. This reminds me of a quote from my teacher, Sri Sri: “The wise will see the doing in happening and the happening in doing.”

  10. Great advice, love the point about not resisting, that is a big one for me. Remembering to go slow when things are slower and faster when things move faster. Thanks for the advice.

  11. This is excellent advice. I have all types of books and audio’s on meditation, and have just never taken the time to do it until this last year. I am really glad I did, I’m living a lot more of a stress free life now. Thank you for the post.

  12. I need to find more “opportunities that make my heart sing.”

  13. Trying to tune into the natural flow in my life is something I’ve been interested in for a while now. I like what you said about listening to your own Sat Guru. Thanks

  14. I wish I could do the things I like and make money out of those.

  15. Love milestones and revelations that reinforce what the heart knows and feels. We are always in the right place at the right time. Practising yoga simply empowers a yogi to see that everything he does and does not do makes him who he is right now. We are only as effective and fulfilled as we allow ourselves to be. Our priorities evolve with us.

  16. I enjoyed reading your article, it is an aspect of yoga that I have not heard about, but I like the premise of what it entails. Saying “yes” to something that makes you happy is something that most of us have forgotten how to do. This is unfortunate to say the least, as it could be such a key to our core happiness and peace.

  17. Thanks for such a nice article. We generally keep ourselves busy in doing the things we don’t want to do some times & that is what leads to away from happiness. I liked the 5 ways mentioned in this article how we can understand the ways to master art of doing without doing. This article is a very good insight on this topic.

  18. Some quality info here, definitely something to think about.

Join the conversation...

a yoga blog with tips, tools, & wisdom on yoga, books, & technology