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  • Writer's pictureCassie Stockamp

"wu wei" = non-doing

Updated: Jan 25, 2020


I find it interesting to see what is drawing my attention as I’m reading this summer, and no, I’m not reading just in preparation for my trip, but for mere pleasure. But I do seem to be hearing and finding little nudges that are pertinent to my trip through my summer reading list...

I just finished “The Stranger in the Wood: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit” by Michael Finkel. So you may be chuckling wondering if my odyssey planning is turning into an ascetic journey. The simple answer is no, but there were pieces of the story that resonated, and I was again reminded that the contemporary world in which most of us live has challenges. Ok, so that’s stating the obvious. Duh.

But how often do we really experience silence.

Just listen.

Do nothing.

We are told that achievement and success and doing more and becoming better and, and, and… are the stuff of success.

The root word of “noise” stems from Latin roots – nausea.

How often do I stop and hear the wind rustling the leaves or the dog barking off in the distance? I did hear the distant and magical evening loon calls this week while vacationing in Maine. Lucky me. And I did chuckle at the found coincidence as the hermit book was a random pick and unbeknownst to me until I opened the first chapter, the hermit hunkered down in rural Maine not far from my loon listening. The book reminded me - again - of the importance of spending time in nature. Our parasympathetic nervous system resets while in nature. Yup.

I have always been a doer. We hiked, tubed, read, swam, kayaked, played games, spent time with friends that are really family, ate well and had bonfires while on vacation. I know why I teach yoga and meditation. It’s because I need those moments of being present and silence in my life. It doesn’t come naturally to me.

As I look back on my life, my doing has served me well, but it also was an easy way to hide from myself and not feel – not noticing what was really going on inside of me. Slowing down is hard. Not working will be harder. The Chinese call it “wu wei” – non-doing and believe it is an essential part of life. Whew. My German roots could take some lessons on this.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Socrates

So this intentional hard stop is putting the brakes on my busyness, and I do wonder what it will bring. What I will find on the other side?

Therein lies the journey.

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