I have been practicing doing nothing for the last 17 years; I began about the time I left the bike business in 1993.
If you think that sounds easy, the next time you go to a doctor’s office or take your car in for an oil change, try to sit in the waiting room with your hands in your lap, and do nothing.
Do not pick up a magazine or fiddle with your cell phone, and more important keep your mind blank, free of any thought.
In the 1990s to achieve this state of mind I would have to make a point to set time aside each day to meditate. I did not get into meditation out of any desire to engage in some mystic eastern religion, but after reading about the practice it seemed like a good idea.
At the time my mind was constantly filled with negative thoughts, and as a result my life was filled with negativity. Throughout my waking hours my mind was filled with either thoughts of the past or future.
I was either reliving the bad events of my past, or worrying about the possible misfortunes of the future.
My daily life was a constant torment and I realized it was of my own making. No matter how hard I tried my past would never get any better; so what was the point of constantly reliving it, over and over.
The same with the future; it was only imagined. I was mourning some future bad event before it even happened. Worse still, my negative thoughts most probably brought about the very thing I was worrying about.
At least by consciously sitting quietly and pushing all thought from my mind, I was not thinking negatively. At first it was extremely difficult; I could not go but a minute or so before a thought about something or other would pop into my head.
I became an observer of my own mind; I could see that one idle random thought would lead to another and pretty soon there would be a whole train of thought leading to who knows where.
At first my meditation sessions went something like this: Sit with my mind blank… a thought pops in… push it out… repeat… sit with my mind blank. In time, the periods I could consciously keep my mind blank increased, and if thoughts did pop in, they were pushed out with ease.
Even more beneficial, in time throughout the day while driving to work, or during my time at work I observed idle thoughts entering my mind; idle chatter that served no useful purpose. I began to consciously push these thoughts from my mind and keep it blank.
It probably took me about five years of effort to banish idle chatter from my mind. Today I rarely set aside actual time to meditate; instead I practice keeping my mind blank at all times.
While I sit and drink my coffee in the morning, if I drive my car, or ride my bike; or as I already pointed out while sitting in a waiting room somewhere.
Having a blank mind while driving or riding my bike is actually better and safer than being deep in thought. To be deep in thought, especially about something troubling is to be distracted, even to be in a state of trance.
Driving or riding a bike does not require conscious thought to anyone with experience; it is automatic. By that I mean even defensive riding is automatic. Keeping the mind clear of extraneous thought, one is actually more alert should an emergency occur.
Keeping my mind blank is like sitting in front of a blank computer screen, or having a blank page of a notebook in front of me. It is an opportunity for creative thoughts to appear.
Just as it is impossible to convey my thoughts to someone else if that person will not stop talking and listen; if my mind is filled with constant chatter, creative thoughts have nowhere to enter.
I can highly recommend doing nothing when nothing is required; my life is mostly stress free. It is not necessary to be thinking if all you have to achieve is waiting for the oil to be changed in your car. It is not difficult either, but it does take time; it is not going to happen overnight