When Is the Last Time You Did NOTHING?

October 15, 2011 | By | Comments (1)

I had an MRI for my aforementioned issues with sciatica earlier today. (Thankfully I was able to get an “open” MRI, as opposed to the more coffin-like regular version. As someone who is very claustrophobic, being in a small tube, with the top a few inches from my nose for over 45 minutes is a horror, and even a sedative can’t squelch my feelings of being, um, buried alive.)

But this time, I was in a machine that was open on the sides, so while the “roof” was still just beyond my face, I could move my arms around and see out the sides.

But that’s not the point. The point is that for nearly an hour, while the radio waves bounced in, around, off and all over my body, I laid completely still and did NOTHING.

I didn’t have my iPhone, I didn’t have my day-planner. I didn’t have music or a podcast to listen to. I didn’t have a magazine, a TV show, a book, a crossword puzzle, or even a couple of strangers on the subway to eye.

Nothing. Just me, my closed eyes, and my thoughts. I can’t remember the last time I did nothing for so long. Part of that is my busy life as working mom with a toddler, and part of that is the increased ways to be distracted, entertained, and informed. (Even when I’m falling asleep or find myself awake in the middle of the night there’s traffic outside to hear, the clock to watch, my beloved Words with Friends to tend to…)

And, at the risk of sounding surprised, it was really quite pleasant—aside from the confinement aspect. After about 10 minutes I sort of got into a groove with the waves of thoughts, ideas, to-dos, the little fantasy decorating I was doing….I was even sort of singing to myself. In terms of stress relief, I think it’s about as good at it gets.

The experience reminded me of the rather genius website, DoNothingForTwoMinutes.com.

It challenges you to do just that: NOTHING. For two minutes. Nothing but stare at the screen, where there’s a picture of a sunset over the ocean and the soothing sound of lapping waves. For just two minutes. (But, obviously, being at one’s computer makes it a bit harder. If the site senses you have touched your mouse or the keys, the word FAIL lights up in red. (If you succeed, a simple WELL DONE appears.)

When is the last time you did 100% nothing?