You can’t “do” sleep

Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling at 2am. Listening to the waves crashing on the beach at my relaxing getaway in Mexico. Trying my hardest to fall back asleep. Wondering why I can’t. Annoyed that I’m on vacation and have insomnia.

And then I realize: you can’t “do” sleep. The more you try, the more awake you become. You literally can’t “do” anything to fall asleep. All you can do is relax and let your consciousness melt away.

Which made me wonder: Where in my life am I trying to “do” when actually there is nothing I can do? When really the best thing to do is nothing?

I know for myself learning to not “do” is a big challenge. It makes me laugh to admit this: I keep trying to “do” relaxation. I fill my downtime with TV, reading, looking at social media, getting lost in the vortex of the internet. What I really need is to do nothing: to sleep, rest, sit in silence.

On my retreat I realized there is a lot less to do than I think. In my regular life there is always a constant list of things to do. But honestly, a lot of them don’t actually need to happen. My life will go on if I don’t research something to death, make sure I read everyone’s post on Facebook, or watch the latest episode of my favorite show.

Staring at the shimmering ocean, I weeded out the things I do routinely to pass the time because I didn’t want to be behind my computer. I saw how much time I waste by just wanting to be doing something, rather than just being present with where I am.

But what would I do if I were doing nothing?

“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

We value action, productivity, achievement.

But really what we DO is an expression of who we ARE.

How do we “be” and not “do”?

In this era of hyper-activity and hyper-connectivity it feels abnormal, strange, and even wrong to do nothing. But at are core it’s what we need. It’s what we need when we reach for sugar or caffeine to jolt us back into action. It’s what we need when we zone out for hours in front of the TV. It’s what we need when we stalk people we barely know on Facebook.

What if, instead, you just were.

You sat on the couch with yourself and just noticed who you are and how you feel.

You went for a walk and noticed the world around you instead of zoning out to a podcast or music.

You took a nap instead of numbing your brain with TV.

I’d love to know – what would it be like for you to BE instead of DO?