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ADHD to Zen: Non-Doing

 

I start today with a deep, but not-so-heavy, sigh.

I am about to present to you the idea of non-doing, the second transformation step in this series of four (check out the first one here).

However, I’m perplexed. I have no idea how to present this topic. I really want to write a post so fascinating, that you feel compelled to read this post over and over again. My biggest problem: I’m not sure I can do it justice and explain it fully, without making it confusing.

So the only way I can express it appropriately is to “practice what I preach”, so to speak.

As I write this post, I am practicing non-doing.

How can that be?

In Wherever You Go There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn tells us:

“But non-doing doesn’t have to be threatening to people who feel they always have to get things done. They might find they get even more “done”, and done better, by practicing non-doing. Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way.”

We often think of non-doing as synonymous with meditating and doing nothing. But that is not the case. Certainly, the practice of sitting down and doing nothing can help us become more attuned to the present moment, to experience the richness and fullness of life as it unfolds in the here-and-now. However, that same presence and awareness of “now” can be achieved, just as easily, as we go about our day, doing whatever it is we do.

What does this mean?

It means that we can be present and allow our lives to unfold, to do the activities of the moment in a non-clinging way, without being attached to any particular outcome. We can appreciate the beauty of simply being, the wonder of what it means to be alive and wash the dishes or drive to work or do nothing at all – without clinging to the need to get more things done, figure things out or change our state of being.

We can let things be exactly as they are, and (as Kabat-Zinn says) “drink in the beauty of being alive”.

When we get caught up in the need to get better at something, to do more, or change the situation we find ourselves in, we attach ourselves to a notion that things are not okay – that we are not okay. Moments become minutes, become hours, become days – time that slips away unnoticed, and essentially – un-lived. Un-lived because we were somewhere else in our minds, thinking we should be anywhere but where we were.

When we embrace the perfectness of each and every moment, the absolute wholeness of who and how we are in it, we find ourselves in flow with the natural rhythm of the force behind life itself. When we start from this place of non-attached acceptance, we are able to go ahead and do whatever it is that needs to be done, in an effortless way.

Kabat-Zinn describes this: “The inward stillness of the doer merges with the outward activity to such an extent that the action does itself. Effortless activity. Nothing is forced. There is no exertion of the will…”

We, as ADDers, all have ample experience in doing things mindlessly, of being in action with detached minds that don’t concentrate on the task at hand. We also have the experience of getting lost in our activities – of being ultra-busy in pursuit of getting more done, often trying to catch up on those things never seem to get done.

My curiosity about the topic of non-doing for ADDers is this:

What if we practiced “doing”, more often, with full presence and non-attachment to particular outcomes? We know what it is like to be mindless and not-present, and at the same time worried about results or if we are going to achieve something. We don’t know what it’s like to do things, being fully immersed in them and present, and not really caring how they turn out at all.

This is how I practiced what I preach throughout the writing of this post. I wrote this post word-by-word, without editing or changing it (apart from a spell-check). I was in the moment, writing – being present with the idea, the keyboard, and my fingers typing away. I wanted this to be a good post, one that you liked. But I detached from the desperation that it must be so. I let go of any desired outcome and instead… I wrote it and let it be okay as it was. In essence, I let the post write itself.

You may or may not have enjoyed it. But I enjoyed the experience letting it unfold. I cannot say that it would have been any better if I had put pressure on myself to write the best post of my writing career.

The ADHD mind’s biggest enemy is pressure. If you drop the pressure, what becomes possible in your life? If nothing else – an appreciation of the moment and a life lived more fully-present. In the spirit of curiosity, I encourage you to try “non-doing”, even if for only a moment or two over the next couple of days. Share your experience in the comments below.

And have an awesome day.

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4 comments on “ADHD to Zen: Non-Doing

  1. This was very good for me. All too often I function with the self critic turned on full, imagining that someone else is driving the bus, sometimes a real other person.
    My challenge now is to be mindful as I do things unencomebered by all the critics, inside and outside of me!

    1. Would love to hear how it goes Donald. I think many of us battle those critics on a daily basis. Any discoveries you could share would be immensely useful!

  2. Wow. Ok, I think I get it. It is a tough thing to get your mind around. I have to think about this for awhile. I’d love to have a conversation with you about it to see if I’m “getting” it. My first immediate impression and response is that I spend altogether way too much time “non-doing.” That’s why I have piles of paper on my counter and table, etc. etc. I spend way too much time “non-doing,” while sitting on my couch. Hmmm… I think I kind of get it a little, but, as I said, I have to think about this awhile. Thanks for the post though! (Also, please let commenters know if the email is going to be seen by the public or not. The one I’ve added is real but not one I use any more, since I didn’t know if it would be published.)

    1. Thanks for the feedback mklmsw. I know – its definitely a hard one to get your head around. But the way I boil it down for myself (to make it simpler) – it is doing, with full presence in the moment, but without any attachment to the outcome of what you are doing. Does that make any more sense?

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