Do nothing (Being vs Doing)

In this Practice you are invited to feel the difference between “being” and “doing.” The difference between exciting the nervous system as a way of preparing for action, and quieting the nervous system as a way of preparing for action. You can experience letting your somatic intelligence take over getting the task done. Trusting in the moment, and trusting in yourself.

This Practice is purely an exploration, and will yield different results for each different person. You can get quite a bit out of this Practice if you really get into exploring, and it is also easy enough to have this Practice completely pass you by if you rush yourself. You can go through the entire process in no more than fifteen minutes, so give yourself the opportunity to learn something new and enjoy yourself!

(If you have experience with Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais you will find that what is presented here works with similar principles. I draw mainly from my Aikido experience in creating this Practice.)

You will need a table, a chair, a small piece of paper or two (three inches or so, square) and some scotch tape.

Sit facing the table with your stomach about twelve inches away from the table.

Fold the paper in half. Then unfold it so the two halves are at ninety degrees from each other. (A basic “L” shape.)

With the fold of the paper held vertically, tape one end of the paper lightly to the side of the table, and the other side will thus stick out at a ninety degree angle from the table, facing towards your belly button. (By “taping lightly” we mean, use just a small amount of tape, and do NOT try and firmly affix the paper to the table.)

As always in Seishindo Practices, you will probably want to read through the instructions once or twice before actually doing what is suggested. Ideally you want to get to the place where you do not need to follow the instructions in order to do the Practice.

As always (again!) the more your do this Practice, the more you will learn, and the more interesting the process will tend to become. It is a learning process that you are engaging in, and your nervous system as well as your intellect needs to take in information and process it differently than usual.

Place your hands one on each leg, near the top of each leg and close by to your stomach. Right hand on your right leg, left hand on your left leg.

Imagine that in a moment you are going to snatch the paper away from the table, as quickly as you can, with either your right or left hand. Simply imagine that you are going to do this.

Can you notice any muscles or nerves starting to twitch? If not, great. If so, also great. Continue to run through cycles of imagining snatching the paper, until you definitely do not have any twitching whatsoever going on. Now once again imagine that you are going to snatch the piece of paper, imagining using the same hand as before.

This time, at some point in your process of imagining, slowly begin to move your hand and arm a small distance towards the paper. Notice which part of your body moves first. Unless you are quite schooled at such activities, you will be initiating your movement using a part of yourself that winds up adding extra tension to the movement.

Let’s say for instance, that you notice that your hand moved first.

This time, after a couple of cycles of just imagining, make a small beginning movement, moving anything but your hand first.

What part of yourself do you begin the movement with this time? Perhaps your elbow?

This time do your imagining for several cycles, and then make your small beginning movement, by beginning with anything but your hand or elbow.

Go through this process at least four or five more times.

If you take your time and run through this Practice a number of times over the next month or so, you will learn a great deal about yourself, and about how you at times create excess tension and anxiety.

You just might get to the point, if you really stay in a “DO nothing” state, that you find your hand reaches for the paper, “on its own”!

But no cheating!

It is also entertaining and educational to do this Practice using your “other” hand.

This Practice can also be a great deal of fun to do with a friend, or with a child. I am sure you can wind up figuring out how to arrange everything so that you each feel you have an equal chance to grab for the paper. Good to have a third person as a referee and starter. The third person shouts go, and then you both grab for the paper and see who gets to it first. This can be great fun indeed, and no matter how “slow” you start out, if you practice doing nothing, you will find that your speed increases.

Let us know what happens for you!

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