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The 30-Day 'Do Nothing' Challenge (For 5 Minutes a Day)

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Thank goodness doing nothing is something, because I am very task-oriented and I like to-do lists. As long as there is something to write, read, clean, see, hear, learn or rearrange, I'm happy. And, there's more to my doing than being busy. For example, I count. I don't know why, and I've never told anyone except my sister. I count the chops when I am cutting my veggies, the forks and spoons when placing them in the cutlery drawer, the steps I take when climbing the stairs, the snips I cut from my basil plant and the flowers when placing them in a vase... actually... I've noticed my mind is always occupied with ongoing chatter about mostly nonsense.

So last week, I decided to become aware of the junk jumbling around in my thoughts, and realized I am perpetually busy in mind and anxious in soul. From worrying about what I will eat for dinner at 11 a.m. to lamenting about the few pounds I put on while in New York City last week (OK, I gained six pounds in five days, thanks to two trips to Serendipity 3 for my all-time favorite, frozen hot chocolate), I have no down time when I am up.

Based on the success of HuffPost blogger W. Aulstin Gardiner's success with the 30-Day Summer Shape Up Challenge, I am creating my own challenge to "do nothing" for five minutes every day, beginning the day this blog posts. I wish there was a formula to follow but one thing I have learned for sure -- the best success comes when following my inner GPS.

I began intuitively surfing the Internet and discovered, there is an "art to doing nothing," and the Zen folks have been working on it for nearly 15 centuries. Did you know that doing nothing, in the true sense of the word, can be overwhelming if we attempt to do too much nothing at once -- so we're supposed to do small nothings at first? Five minutes a day seems reasonable.

My first step is adding nothing to my to-do list. Remember when we were advised to create white space in our day planners -- which are now our iPhones, smartphones, Yahoo, Google and Outlook calendars? And remember when Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote the book, Wherever You Go There You Are illustrating how much of ourselves we take with us whether on the road or in the mind? So being diligent in this exercise is paramount. It is vital to take time to do nothing by putting it in the calendar. The next step is developing a practice. For me, sitting and watching my breath is boring. I'd rather be attentive to something in nature: the sun, wind, sounds, glistening of the water or awareness of how the summer humidity swells my fingers. And then... It's time to do nothing.

From what I hear, it's a very enjoyable experience. Try it today. I'd love to know how you do nothing, or if you even care and please share... I'll take all the tips I can get. Good luck to me and good luck to you!

"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves -- slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment." -- Thich Nhat Hanh

For more by Liz Sterling, M.A. click here.

For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.

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