Practicing the Art of Not-Doing
My 30 days in the desert in Santa Fe, New Mexico is coming to a close. It’s not quite like Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, but I have learned a great deal about myself as I continue to courageously explore my own path.
I have been on the road for a couple of months as I live the digital nomad lifestyle seeing what it’s all about. I am heading back to Colorado for a couple of months and then being open to what is next.
I have been staying on a farm about 30 minutes south of Santa Fe. I have spent some time exploring Santa Fe, but most of my time has been invested in deep inner exploration through prayer, meditation, listening to my inner knowing and writing. I am going to share with you my insights that I have had from my 30 days in the desert practicing that art of not-doing as I believe we can all benefit from this simple, yet challenging practice.
I am pretty good at living what I call the 4S lifestyle which stands for slowness, solitude, simplicity and stillness. But my time here in Santa Fe took my 4S lifestyle to another level. At first there was some discomfort with being alone out in the country. My mind wanted to tell me I should be doing more. I should be exploring Santa Fe more. That I need to be on the go.
I really had to work on being OK with hanging out on the farm, going for walks with my pup, Oakley, and simply soaking in the scenery without having to jump in my car and drive thirty minutes to get somewhere to do some thing.
Living out in the country is different for me. I love my solitude, but I also love to know there are people close by. I am staying in an Airbnb living on the lower level of an adobe style house with the upstairs also being rented out as an Airbnb.
The Gift of Meaningful Conversation
The 30 days in the desert really confirms for me something that I knew about myself. As an introvert, time alone is precious, but so is deep intimate conversation. That is what lights my soul on fire. Superficial conversations drain my energy, but deep dialogue about things that truly matter makes me feel fully alive.
There was one particular person that was staying above me that I had a chance to have that deep conversation with. She was an old soul. There was something special about her. She had an energy about her that lit up the night sky. She reminded me of my daughter with this magnetic personality and smile. As it turns out they are the same age with their birthdays one day apart.
She is a writer like I am and a yoga teacher. I probably will never see her again, but there was a purpose behind our conversation. I am not sure what that purpose was other than maybe God knew I needed some deep conversation at that time. Regardless, it was a gift.
Tapping Into My Natural Circadian Rhythm
One thing that has been put really strong on my heart during my 30 days in the desert is focusing on rest and restoration. I have struggled with getting quality sleep for many years. Since starting my travels, my sleep quality has improved tremendously. I have paid attention to my circadian rhythm. The 16:8 circadian rhythm has shown up both in my sleep patterns and my eating patterns.
I have focused on getting a solid eight hours of sleep by going to bed early and allowing my body to wake up naturally. I have found when I don’t set an alarm to get up crazy early like I used to, my body gets the rest it needs. I have made a mental shift to do this. I am looking at sleep as a time of meditation and prayer.
Right before I go to sleep I may ask God what I should write about in my blog or my book that I am working on and just allow that download to happen as I am sleeping. Or I may ask God to give me more clarity on my work and what I am being asked to bring to the world.
The key is I pray and then just let it go and allow myself to go into that deep sleep that I was desperately missing in my life for many years. I feel a thousand times better because I am rested and rejuvenated in the morning.
Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. I am doing a form of fasting. I have been practicing the16:8 cycle of intermittent fasting. It’s nothing crazy, but it seems to be working well for me. I have an eight hour window to eat and sixteen hours for my digestive system to rest. That feels good to me. It doesn’t feel forced, it feels natural. It’s a natural rest and digest pattern that ultimately leads to better health and longevity.
Less Doing…More Being
I am also spending a great deal of time in meditation. When I feel like I need to go do something or be more productive, I simply go sit. I let go of the need to produce and practice meditation simply sitting still with God.
I may meditate two or three times a day anywhere from twenty to sixty minutes. The form of meditation I do is Centering Prayer. It’s simply a practice of letting go spending time in the presence of God. It’s the ultimate form of not-doing. The more I do it, the more I look forward to that time. When I sit in my meditation chair I feel this deep sense of calm that comes over me and I do my best to carry that inner peace with me throughout my day.
Less Forcing…More Listening
During my 30 days in the desert I am practicing the art of listening. I know that sounds kind of weird since I am out here by myself, but it’s learning to listen to my inner knowing accepting my own wisdom and insights from God. I have been pretty good at forcing things and trying to make things happen. Sometimes it works out, but most of the time it turns into a sense of overwhelm and frustration.
I am learning the practice of listening and being open to receive. It’s a completely different mindset for me, but one that is bringing more inner peace into my life. It’s about trusting God and believing that my Creator knows what is best for me.
I have taken some time to read over some of my journals I have been keeping since 2013 and this particular journal entry jumped out at me.
Embrace uncertainty. This leads to ultimate freedom. When nothing is certain, everything is possible.
By sitting still and listening to my inner knowing without any expectation of outcome it opens up a world of possibilities. I am trusting that I am being guided and supported on this beautiful adventure that I am on.
The Spiritual Practice of Writing
The final thing that has been shown to me in my 30 days in the desert is the spiritual practice of writing. I am in the process of writing a book and it has been one of the most challenging projects I have ever undertaken. I love to write, but it has been hard for me to sit down in the chair and write.
I have discovered a writing practice that works for me. Writing has become a natural part of my daily rhythm. The first thing I do in the morning is write anywhere from one to two hours. The beauty of writing first thing in the morning is that my analytical mind has not completely woken up, so I am writing more from my subconscious mind without overthinking and being judgmental of myself. I simply practice free flow writing from what God downloaded into my heart as I slept. That is what I am doing now as I write this blog post.
Regardless of what happens the rest of the day, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I am finding that writing is a form of prayer and meditation for me. I can simply sit down and write what is on my heart and share it with you. If it resonates with you great and if not, it’s OK.
My 30 days in the desert has been an immensely rewarding experience, but I do miss my family and friends. I can’t wait to get a hug from my daughter. That is priceless.
I want to encourage you to find a time where you can get alone and have time to practice the 4S lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be 30 days in the desert, as I have found two to three days of not-doing can be life changing. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life.
Practicing the art of not-doing is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and the others around us.
With not-doing comes clarity.
With listening comes focus.
With opening to receive comes inner peace.
Give it a try and see what happens. Be open to receive through this beautiful practice of not-doing.
Founder and Creator of Barbells & Brothers