We in the West are doers. We are predisposed culturally to always be doing. We are raised to not have idle hands – the work of the devil. It is an unbelievable curse, for there is so much to be gained in simply being.
I am probably more content than most to just be. Seven summers spent canoeing the Maine wilderness gave me so many opportunities to be. Sitting, watching the sunset or moon rise at the end of a day, getting in a rhythm of paddling across a broad lake, where I was doing but also just being, hours in front of a mesmerizing campfire led me to appreciate and relish doing nothing, to feeling the contentment that comes from just being. No doubt, my mind was whirling most of the time. But I do believe there were plenty of moments where it was quiet.
It is harder to do today, but I am moving back to being more comfortable with it. When I have nothing to do I now try to tell myself to accept it and not look for something to fill the time. It takes effort. It takes conscious effort, for our default is action. Christophe André puts it like this in Looking at Mindfulness:
“Taking action, directing, influencing – we are itching to do all these things and soothed by doing them. This is both the great strength of human beings and our great weakness.”
I think my meditating is helping me just be more often. At times while meditating I glimpse infinity and eternity. And when I make a conscious effort while not meditating to just be I again get those moments of experiencing the infinite. It is quite beautiful and something I am increasingly grateful for.