Photo by Vinicius Wiesehofer on

We’ve talked about being in the meditative sense.  Being present, being aware of our breath, being aware of our existence.  I recently learned about a different kind of being.  There is a Dutch tradition called Niksen.  We’ve spoken before about the Italian tradition of Le Dolce Far Niente—the sweetness of doing nothing—and this expands on it.  Niksen means doing nothing or to be idle doing something without any use.  Everything needs a break and needs to reset sometimes including our mind.  The beauty in just being without focusing the mind is that the lack of external stimulation allows more creativity.  Clearly there is value in this concept culturally across the globe.  It’s just not something we fully embrace here. 

When we allow ourselves to simply be, to stare out a window, to allow the mind to unwind we experience something new.  This is unlike meditation where there is a focus on an anchor like the breath or the way the body feels in the moment.  This is about completely letting go and letting the mind be.  I already know there is hesitance amongst my mult-track minders and my ADHD-ers (myself included) because the mind never really stops.  We cling to the things that go through our brains or, at the very least, follow them like the little white rabbit.  When we detach from that clinging, something different happens—that is when we become the observer of thought.  Having something in the background like music or even just staring at your surroundings, as long as it’s without PURPOSE is the goal with niksen.  We don’t need to be productive constantly.

While we are trained to be on the go constantly, to be productive, there are times we have to attempt to slow it down and allow.  We have to create space for us to be.  We also have to redefine what rest looks like.  The weekend warriors don’t count, sorry.  Yes, there are always things to be done, but mental health is so key, so vital, that this includes stopping and letting those tasks we save for the weekend go.  No, I’m not advocating doing that regularly, but I’m advocating for recognizing when you need a break and to find solace in quiet, in just being. The mind isn’t designed to focus 24/7—it needs to recalibrate and recenter. 

Being is what makes us human.  Aside from the cultural references I’ve shared, nature allows for being as well.  You don’t see squirrels contemplating their existence.  You don’t see dogs upset over their looks.  Whales swim the ocean without worrying about space.  Birds fly because they were built to.  Flowers bloom when they are ready.  Humans are part of nature, and while our minds and ability to dig deeper into our awareness is a gift, it has allowed us to distort the story and forget that we are part of nature.  That we are allowed to be ourselves—that we are meant to be ourselves.  If we can get out of the narrative of “who we have to” and switch to “who we are meant to” be, the story changes.  Allow yourself to simply be and see what is written in you.

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