The Next Chapter: The Joy Diet – Chapter 1 – Doing Nothing

by Valerie on September 25, 2009 · 15 comments

Today, we are discussing “nothing” as part of Jamie Ridler’s online bookclub, The Next Chapter on The Joy Diet: Ten Daily Practices for a Happier Life by Martha Beck.  “Nothing” is the first menu item of the joy diet.

I approached this chapter with trepidation.  I have tried many times to build a meditation practice, but have always found it difficult.  What I really liked about this chapter was that Martha Beck broke it down for me in a way I could relate, namely the ticker tape concept (see pages 19-20) where she encourages to view thoughts and feelings as a ticker tape, and to name the emotions each thought or feeling represents.

Once I had that tool to work with, emptying my mind seemed a whole lot easier.  I generally do my nothing walking right now, mainly because that makes me feel more focused, but I hope to do it sitting down soon.  Some of it is that by naming each thought, that makes the ticker tape manageable.  

The other thing I realized is that my walk to and from work is when I already do a whole lot of nothing in terms of thinking.  I actively try not to make phone calls or think about things while I do this walk, and make myself focus on things around me, like the sky, the temperature, people-watching.  Turning these walks into “nothing” thinking felt very doable.  The ticker tape was like the missing part of the puzzle for me.

So I did nothing for most of my walks this week, but I also tried a nothing session while sitting and another in child’s pose.  Both were more challenging than the walking meditation but helpful.  The most successful part of the nothing exercise was the fact that I found myself craving to do it more.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melita September 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm

ah yes, once you have accomplished nothing it becomes quite addictive :) and it's amazing how many joyous things come from nothing!


2 sherry ♥ lee September 25, 2009 at 2:55 pm

It is interesting isn't it, when we stop and "do" something to realize how often in a day we have already incorporated something like "nothing" into our day. Your walk where you have already made it a practice to do no work related tasks is one.

I think the concept of doing nothing or meditating can be intimidating because it seems like so much to do at once. Martha's ability to offer ideas and to help break it down was brilliant. It reminds me of when my oldest was 4 1/2. They were making paper chains in kindergarten to hang at Christmas and he was completely paralyzed with shock at the idea of having to put all 24 together. He was looking at the big picture and the teacher calmly told him to think about just one at a time. That it was only one and then another and then another. It made a big difference in his life and his thinking process…and it had an impact on me as well. I needed to learn that as well (seems I passed that on to my son!).


3 Karley September 25, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Many great thoughts here, CGL. I hope you continue to enjoy nothingness more and more.


4 Karen D September 25, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I also have a difficult time keeping my mind quite while sitting, the walking meditation sounds like a great idea.


5 Lisa September 26, 2009 at 2:30 am

Good for you for discovering your own way to embrace nothingness!


6 Genie Sea September 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Yes! I loved the ticket tape idea. Because totally letting go of thoughts is too much work. A struggle. And that's not nothing. Letting the be and observing is a way of building that practice for a lot of us. Spectacular! :)


7 gemma September 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm

I like the idea of a walking meditation.I havn't tried that but
might go for a walk today and see if it works for me.


8 Snap September 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Wonderful post with many great thoughts. Walking meditation is great. Whatever brings me refreshment/calm/energy! YES!


9 Valli September 27, 2009 at 12:14 am

I liked the idea of the ticker tape as well. Walking meditation is a great way to do nothing. Enjoy!


10 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 3:21 am

I agree – having a tool helps SO much. Love that you practice nothing on your walks to and from work. Maybe I'll try that with my drives!


11 The Other Laura September 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I like the idea of walking meditation but I've used walking all my life to work through issues and problem solve. I don't know if it would work for me.


12 Ellecubed September 27, 2009 at 4:55 pm

I love that you were able to do nothing through walking. I think I may try walking and nothing together this week. I think it is so wonderful when we can find ways to incorporate nothing in to our daily routines. Thank you so much for sharing your week of nothing, City Girl.


13 Leah September 28, 2009 at 4:25 am

I've loved doing the walking meditation too and I agree, the ticker-tape part was the missing piece for me (although I use the parade one.) :-) Here's to more nothing!


14 kari September 28, 2009 at 8:29 pm

oooh! doing nothing child's pose. good idea!


15 becky n September 29, 2009 at 5:59 pm

I think you must be much more flexible than I am – I couldn't do a child's pose for 15 minutes – but I just started back in yoga and hopefully will loosen up some of these stiff joints.

I love the way you are trying out different situations for your time of nothingness – I've been experimenting, too. Makes me look forward to the time.


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