When you don’t know what to do, there is one lifestyle hack that always works- wu wei. It’s a Daoist practice that means non-doing. It doesn’t mean do nothing. It means to go through life without effort. When things feel easy breezy, you’ve got it.
Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu
What’s Wu Wei
In the west, when things get tense, we struggle more. We turn up the heat, stay up later, work harder, sleep less, and try harder. Goals drive our lives. We’ve bought into ideas that we can succeed if we just put in more effort, learn something else, produce more, or work longer hours. Studies have actually shown that students who take relaxation breaks do better on exams and remember more than those who do long cram study sessions. Relaxation helps!
Now let’s take that to another level, and you’ve got wu wei. Wu wei is a lifestyle that removes effort. It’s living in flow. This doesn’t mean you loaf around and avoid living. It is really about doing what is called for rather than being goal or desire directed. So in a way, you can say that it’s about living purposefully and engaging in what is. This doesn’t remove motivation. It works with it. Simple. Elegant. Easy.
How Does It Help
- Wu wei reduces anxiety and stress because it doesn’t require thinking. Thinking uses a lot of energy. Wu wei moves like water. It flows easily around obstacles and wears even the hardest stone away gentle. It requires no effort, no energy.
- Wu wei puts us in the alpha or meditative mindset. Here, things are timeless. There is no separation between you and what you are doing, so you’re in a space of oneness. When you’re doing what you love, you experience this. Life feels easier and more enjoyable.
- Wu wei increases self-awareness. When you are practicing wu wei, you are more focused and notice more in a fully sensory way. Your engagement with life is greater, so you can feel more present and alive. This also increases your sense of other awareness so that you can engage more honestly and thoughtfully.
So the next time you are frazzled and need to really get something done, drop into wu wei. Stop trying. Take a break. Drop into what you’ve practiced. Let Nature take its course. Let me know how it works for you.
Disclaimer: Wu wei works best with what you have already habitually cultivated. It helps to have healthy life skills and awareness first. However, wu wei can also help you get them if you don’t already have them.