I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by the Taoist concept of Wu Wei. I wrote about it to some degree in the “Go With the Flow” post back on March 8th. I recently found the following short definition of Wu Wei that I really like:
Wu Wei (Chinese, literally “non-doing”) is an important concept of Taoism and means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.
It sounds great, right? Right! Now, how do you that? I don’t know. LOL Well, that’s not entirely true. I have some idea of what this concept is and have been adjusting my thinking a bit to help me go with the flow if what is going on. But it’s not really anything that I feel like I can sit down and teach someone how to do, yet.
But, it seems to be happening in my life to some degree. One thing that I noticed recently is that I seem to be more productive at work. I have a very stressful, high paced job where most things are very time sensitive. So customers want what they want, now! There have been times where I’ve been up to 5 days behind, even though I was working 60-70 hours a week. Crazy. Right now, I’m less than a day behind on emails and I’ll put in about 50 hours this week. And it’s been that way for a little while. But I can’t say that I can think of a point where I purposely did anything to make that happen. But I have been reading about Wu Wei whenever I get a chance. I’ve also been thinking about it a lot. So is it possible that by having that on my mind on a pretty consistent basis has caused it to somehow work its way into my life? I think that’s a definite possibility.
I also think that the concept of Wu Wei and many of the other things I’ve been practicing are connected. It’s kind of like losing weight. There have to be certain mental adjustments that take place. I have to change what I eat and how much I eat. And I have to move more. It’s a pretty simple formula, but if I leave any of those three things out, it makes it more difficult to accomplish my goal. But if I practice those things consistently, the weight loss happens. Similarly, I’ve been practicing things like mindfulness; accepting what is happening without judgement of it being good or bad; going back to my breath; tai chi, yoga, and meditation; and thinking about the concept that I want to be happening in my life.
But how do the things that I’m “doing” fit into Wu Wei, “non-doing”? Well, there are days where one of the things I’ve been practicing just seems to come easier than other things. Or, I can tell that I need one of the tools more than others on certain days, or at times throughout the day. So I go with that flow. That fits in with our definition, “…means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort… cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.”
Wow. That last paragraph just came to me while I was typing it out! I love it when that happens! You guys just shared an “aha!” moment with me where I got a little more understanding of Wu Wei.
And (another aha!), I just realized I’ve been practicing this to a degree with my body. Even though there are times where I discipline myself to do some physical activity because I want to get better at it, I’ve also been listening to my body more. Some days it seems that my body needs tai chi more than it needs yoga. And vice versa. So I follow that and do what I feel like my body needs that day. Whoa! It really is all connected…
How fun! Ok, so where do we go from here? Hmmm… this might be a good stopping point for now. In terms of people who are public speakers, there is a saying; “The short winded shall be invited back”. I think there is some truth there with bloggers as well. 🙂
Until next time. Smile. Breathe. Go with the flow.