The Inner Transformation of Doing Nothing

by Mark Votava


Some of the greatest moments of my life have been when I have rested deeply and done nothing.  I remember when I first started to practice this, my intellect could not understand this way of life.  It wanted to resist and push back.  But my body was longing for this sense of peace and rest within from all the cultural expectations of success, productivity, noise and activity.

  • Seeds of revelation

I have come to understand God to be a God of peace within myself.  God has become a God of love and rest within myself.  Seeds of revelation in everyday life have showed me that my being is so important to who I am in the world.  I must connect with my true self if I am to live compassionately in the place I live.

  • Doing nothing through reflection and rest

We cultivate our spirituality when we do nothing through our reflection and rest.  Doing nothing can help us to embrace the mystical imagination.  Doing nothing can detach us from the cultural patterns of escapism.

  • Creating an inner transformation

Doing nothing helps us to rest.  Doing nothing helps us to embrace a reflective life as the body of Christ in the parish.  Doing nothing creates an inner transformation within us.  Doing nothing is dangerous and needs to be practiced with a lot of courage.

  • The cultural pressures scream to us

Most of us can only handle doing nothing for so long before the cultural pressures scream to us, “Get on with something meaningful.  All this reflection and rest is a waste of time.  It doesn’t make sense.”

  • Embracing a different narrative

Our reflection and rest teaches us to embrace a different narrative.  We embrace a narrative that values reflection and rest instead.  We embrace a narrative of listening.  We embrace a narrative of love and grace.

  • Our greatest source of strength

Doing nothing actually turns into our greatest source of strength.  Doing nothing is powerful and subversive.  William Shannon says, “In the production-orientated culture we live in, we are not good at doing nothing.  Just being seems difficult precisely because instinctively we feel that we ought to be usefully involved with something or other.”

  • Cultivating being

Doing nothing cultivates being.  Doing nothing cultivates the mystical imagination within us in the parish.  We are not very good at being.  We are not very good at resting and reflecting.

  • Pushed into doing something

Our consumer society always pushes us to do something.  We are pushed to buy something.  We are pushed to go somewhere.  We are pushed to get on with it.

  • Acts of attentiveness and awareness

We are rarely ever just content with doing nothing and being.  Doing nothing manifests in local acts of attentiveness and awareness.  We need to become better at doing nothing as the body of Christ in the parish.

How can we center our lives around reflection and rest instead of giving in to the cultural pressures of doing all the time?