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Do More Nothing (Thoughts from Costa Rica)

A howler monkey I captured doing nothing in Manuel Antonio, CR

It seems many of us (including your yoga instructors) are doing a bit of traveling this summer. I myself enjoy slow travel when it is possible. Staying for longer stretches of time is really my ideal way to explore a place. You can try your hand at living more like one of the locals during a more extended stay. Not feeling the pressure of soaking up everything a place has to offer in 7 days or less allows you to just quietly observe, ask questions, get to know locals and organically discover what to do and see. For this adventure with my three kiddos (and husband for part of the time) I was tempted to hyper plan the experience because, you know, kids need structure. Thankfully we found a great "world school" that they are attending that gives them the structure they need each day and the fun summer camp environment that keeps it interesting as they learn some Spanish. I honestly didn't crack a Lonely Planet for this trip but have relied on meeting people and mining nuggets of local information wherever I can. It has been a fun and at times exhausting process of learning and with three kids in tow. The best part has been re-learning how to just do nothing. I find this easier to do in my current environment because 1) I don't have a car, so sometimes it is just easier to stay put in our little Tico house 2) It is really hot with no air conditioning 3) We are living in a rainforest. I have re-learned how to listen more intently to the kiddos, how to just hang out with them in a small space and how to observe our natural surroundings with a more watchful eye (to spot the monkeys, scarlet macaws, lizards and butterflies that come so often in our little jungle yard). Doing nothing is sometimes the best medicine for living in an environment of over-stimulation, over-work and a deeply ingrained cultural resistance to nothingness. Martha Beck in her book, "The Joy Diet" says it best,

"The problem is that perpetually doing, without ever turning in to the center of our being, is the equivalent of fueling a mighty ship by tossing all its navigational equipment into the furnace. Fully occupied by the process of achieving innumerable goals, we lose the ability to determine which goals really matter, and why."

Not everyone can vacate their life to learn to do nothing so Beck gives some easy steps to get started:

1) Put up the NO VACANCY sign. Set aside fifteen minutes every day when you will not be bothered by anybody, for anything.

2) Let your body vacate.

Option one: Sit quietly and allow your body to relax.

Option two: Engage in any repetitive , mindless physical activity.

Option three: Find a place to watch some natural motion, such as fire or running water.

3) Vacate your mind. Detach from your thoughts by watching them. Visualize them as objects floating down a stream that are seen, observed and then washed gently away.

4) Learn to return. Create a strong vivid memory of a place where you felt utterly at ease. Return there mentally whenever you do nothing.

Pura Vida friends,


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