Not long ago I started a new practice; it basically consisted of lying on the floor and doing nothing. Yes, I’m not kidding. I’d lie down on the floor in my living room and just stare up at the ceiling. There’s no other purpose to it than undoing. It all started when I got some strange throat virus that caused my glands to get extremely swollen and painful, my whole body was feverish and weak. For some days I mostly slept and ate soup, and in between, I might watch a movie or just lie on the couch feeling tired and heavy.
This happened about 10 days after I had moved to a new city after having walked for 40 days on El Camino de Santiago.
Before El Camino, I lived for two months in Berlin and before that, I uprooted myself and left my home in Northern Thailand to start a new chapter in Europe. All of that had felt quite effortless; I moved about with a deep sense that I was following my intuition and things where flowing seamlessly. But once I arrived here to Valencia I was hit by a sense of overwhelm. Basically, I was mentally pushing myself to make it all happen at once. Find the right home, set up classes, grow my sprouting coaching business, make new friends, create events, put myself out there on the dating scene, explore the city, keep up my daily walking practice of at least 10km - to name some of what was going on in my head.
I felt the old familiar overflowing mind activity that produced a mental and physical sense of pressure. And yes, in the end, I got sick, that’s the body’s intelligent way of saying “enough!” Stop it. Let go of all the ideas of what you’re supposed to do, achieve and figure out.
And that’s when I had a sort of existential crisis.
I started questioning everything. What is the meaning of life? How do I want to live my life? Why do we do the things we do? Does anything even matter? Yes, it was like straight out of a European Art Film or kind of like reading your most private teenage diary. Haha. It was both nauseating and surprisingly liberating.
Because if nothing really matters then you’re completely free to just be.
(The experience I’m describing is not about resigning into depression. If you’ve ever had an existential crisis, you might have experienced this duality of meaninglessness and extreme vital liberty at the same time. If you do suffer from depression and a shattering sense of darkness, I urge you to seek support from friends, family or professionals.)
Over the last seven years, I’ve been in a constant process of letting go. Letting go of possessions, titles, habits, people, places, ideas. And the wonderful thing you find out is that the more you let go, the more you realize that everything you need is already here. Innately in you.
When we know that nothing on the outside really determines our happiness, life or wellbeing, we can move in life with ease and grace.
However, I had to let all the ideas of what my life is supposed to be like die, once again, to embody that insight.
Just like nature goes through winter, spring, summer, and fall - sprouting, blooming, shedding and dying, we as humans can tap into that natural cycle and let whatever doesn’t serve us anymore to die.
It’s pretty darn liberating actually.
I wonder what you need to let die? If you feel like sharing, I’d be curious to know, just tell me in the comments below.
Personally, I feel the way to live a meaningful life is by returning to a cyclical way of living. To embrace the constant changes and especially the fall and winter, which I find we often neglect in favor of squeezing in more doing. A way to practice that is by lying on the floor and doing nothing. If you feel inspired, I invite you to try it out!