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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.com, Facebook, and Twitter.]
Photo credit: Camillia Lee
Read more about Yin Yoga: