Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Mantra: Dolce Far Niente

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Dolce Far Niente: The sweetness of doing nothing

Unplanned Plans: What a perfectly stupid time we would have.

A few months ago I started re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert's best selling book Eat, Pray, Love. As terrible as this sounds (since I love her book dearly) I'd hardly made a dent in it because I'd been so busy trying to do...everything. Every little task and to-do item that my mind could conjure up in an effort to make my life easier in the long run, even if it wasn't easy in the present moment.

It wasn't until I got to a specific part of the book that I had a much needed wake up call. In it, Giovanni, her friend from Italy, explains to her the Italian way of enjoying the sweetness of doing nothing. The art of stopping to enjoy life - fully and completely - without multitasking while relaxing, without shaming ourselves for relaxing, without any guilt whatsoever for enjoying the beautiful things in life. He goes on to explain that while Americans view down time as a negative, in the Italian culture it is praised. It is a normal and very important part of their way of life.

It occurred to me that, even in the moments where I thought I was relaxing, I wasn't. I read through magazines while I watch a movie I've been dying to see for months, not really paying appropriate attention to either one. I walk my dog and catch up on returning voice mails. I take what's supposed to be a relaxing bubble bath and focus in on all my to-do lists. I am well rehearsed in the art of multitasking and because of that I miss out on the simple pleasure of doing one thing at a time or nothing at all.

I'm working on finding the pleasure in empty moments. Right now, because of work and school and life, the only way I've found to do this (as hilarious and contradictory as this sounds) is to schedule in time to do nothing. I know, I know...scheduling it in...but the beautiful thing is that it works. When I actively decide that the time blocked out is for nothing but relaxation, I actually achieve that goal. And by doing that, I've felt far better about every other crazy thing going on in my world. In fact, I actually end up achieving more, with a happier state of mind, because I've allowed myself time to relax.

This week I've scheduled time in for a rose petal bubble bath and a reflexology session. I can already feel the tension of this coming weeks events slipping away knowing I have beautiful nothingness to look forward to. I hope you'll join with me in finding, celebrating, and appreciating the sweetness of doing nothing.

Do you feel guilty when you take time to relax? And if you do give yourself that much needed down time, what do you do to unwind? 

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