Lazy DaysSeptember 9, 2009 Leave a comment
A few months ago, I wrote a post called “Over-Working“, in which I was questioning the ways that I (and many of us) over-work. I am just now returning from a five and a half week sabbatical, thanks to the generosity and forethought of the staff and board of IISC and clearly, given what is happening to so many people right now, a great deal of privilege at having the kind of work environment I have.
It has been an amazing span of time, opening me in many ways and creating quite a space to build the life I’ve long been wanting. And so, in this returning to work (and, for some, school) time of year, I thought I’d reflect a little on what taking a break has meant.
About ten years ago, I spent three weeks at Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery in Southern France. The time there was primarily spent in silence – with long periods of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and even working meditation. (No surprise, I struggled with over-working during working meditation!) One of the practices at Plum Village is that each week, everyone takes a “Lazy Day”.
My friends Peggy Rowe Ward and Larry Ward describe Lazy Days in their book, Love’s Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships, as follows:
“A lazy day [is] a day for us to be truly with the day, without having any scheduled activities. We just let the day unfold naturally, timelessly. It is a day in which we can practice as we like. We may do walking meditation on our own or with a friend or do sitting meditation in the forest. We might like to read lightly or write home to our family or to a friend. It can be a day for us to look deeper at our practice and at our relations with others. On this day, we have a chance to balance ourselves. Lazy isn’t about going to sleep. It isn’t about goofing off or zoning out. Lazy is more about creating a relaxed and easy quality. Having lazy time … is about stopping and entering into the speed of life.”
And so it was for the past five and a half weeks – perfecting the practice of lazy days, of living at the speed of life. I had purposefully not planned my time, and instead had set an intention to have nowhere to go and nothing to do. And so, what a delight as each day unfolded! Every day was, miraculously, the perfect day for something – yoga, meditation, time on the scooter exploring, kayaking, walking with friends, reading, starting and deepening relationships, cooking, sailing, driving to New York one weekend and later to Vermont (and staying as long as felt right). After all these years of over-working, I seem to have finally perfected (for now) the fine art of doing nothing!
And so I re-enter work, watching myself go from zero to ninety in half a second, with my spirit recharged, full knowledge of what I need to do to maintain that pace and a commitment to maintain, also, the life I have built – and to cultivate the practice of lazy days (and even lazy hours or lazy moments) in my week. And so I ask this (as they ask in Plum Village): are you being lazy enough?