Doing nothing

Richard talks about becoming really good at doing nothing.

In the past I thought it was funny and aspired to this, but it wasn’t sincere - I actually was doing a lot, Richard is retired and I am working.

Before my days always would be full either with work or taking care of things or hanging out with my partner. But she has been away a week or so and I find my evenings are free.

Now I finally do see that in these free times I am really bad at doing nothing. I end up watching a lot of YouTube videos. But I’m not feeling good doing it. It seems to be an addiction or at least have some of the same qualities - not to YouTube per se but to doing something.

Anyone else have success with doing nothing and enjoying it, in their free time?

The issue seems to be I don’t want to sit still - or allow the stillness underlying everything to become apparent. Perhaps because then my insubstantiality as a feeling-being would become apparent. But of course I already know this to be true … but that’s another matter. Or is it? :smiley:


IF and WHEN I’m doing nothing in my free time, I enjoying it. However, doing nothing was not and it’s still not my usual choice.

The important thing, however, is the cause; and I recognize that to a large extent it’s “my doer” who dictates the activities in that time because it feels the satisfaction of achievement, recognition, etc., but also because in that way it effectively avoids having to face contemplative processes that would weaken it.

1 Like

Hi Claudiu - this must have been something Richard said to you personally? I can’t find reference on the AFT to him mentioning becoming really good at doing nothing like it was a practice he cultivated. Could you elaborate? By ‘doing nothing’ did he mean he got good at refraining/abstaining from both physical and mental activity, i.e., no movement, no thoughts?

How might that tally with his recurrent forewarning:

Richard (1999): … unless one has the pure intent to enable the already always existing perfection (as ascertained in the PCE) from becoming apparent, then these ‘best discoveries’ will never, ever ‘happen of their own accord’. I oft-times put it: one will never become free of the human condition by sitting in a deck-chair on the patio waiting for the ‘grace of god’ (by whatever name) to descend.

Perhaps as long as there is pure intent his counsel would be to indeed sit in a deck-chair on the patio doing nothing, thinking nothing.

Ah no he didn’t mean it as a practice to be cultivated.

Think of it more in terms of how it’s used in the context of these quotes:

What he was humorously saying is that he had gotten really good at “doing nothing” in this sense, as in doing nothing the real-world denizens might consider “of consequence” — i.e. just enjoying being alive without having to do anything in order to enjoy said being alive.


You weren’t being literal here, then?

I also get caught up surfing Youtube or playing hours of chess, for example, and fall into addictive behavior patterns. From how you wrote, it initially appeared that you did not equate those kind of things, like watching a lot of YouTube, with “doing nothing”. But I wonder now if perhaps you do equate things like YouTube watching with “doing nothing” and that the problem is you don’t enjoy those kind of things, given their addictive qualities, while you are engaged in them?

Doing nothing is an absolute pleasure, that one can become better and better at even as a feeling being. Have you just sat in a room by yourself and just enjoyed that room? A view is nice but optional. At first you’ll want to check your phone, watch youtube videos etc. You might feel twinges of boredom, restlessness and claustrophobia. But as you let yourself settle in you’ll start to notice nice little things here and there within the room that you can like and enjoy. Eventually you could be sitting down for quite a while just enjoying the space, taking it in, having some nice thoughts and reflections about this and that too. It doesn’t have to progress quite to an EE or PCE even though that could happen. You’ve then moved from the restless wanting to sublime liking like Kent Berridge’s research talks about:


I get sleepy when I try to sit and do nothing like you suggest, Srinath. I try to enjoy the environment but a natural exhaustion takes over. Do you have any suggestions?

Coffee? :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

I was afraid you’d say that.

Super interesting article @Srinath.

@claudiu do you reckon you are a bit too keen/ambitious to feel good, that you are avoiding situations where you will feel bad? If you had to do nothing in a room, with no distractions, you’d have to face and be those feelings right? Which is not going to be at all comfortable at first, hence wanting to distract and all of that. Hence (I believe) why Richard is recommending it - not because the same awareness couldn’t be applied whilst doing something.

This is what I am coming to realise about myself: taking away all the distractions, taking away all the good feelings - I am an amorphous entity comprised of malicious and sorrowful feelings at my core. It’s much more than we want to admit/realise/feel as feeling beings hence why actually free people refer to the situation as “tragic”.

I think it’s important not to be too keen to succeed that we don’t allow ourselves to feel those feelings, as they are, without guilt or shame. All feeling beings, even experienced actualists, are in the same boat in terms of “being” - and I think only that level of exposure and sincere recognition will allow the progress into feeling good overtime, eventually becoming virtual freedom (so I’ve heard) and then a humanitarian self-immolation (so I’ve heard).

And of course, the overall purpose is to move into feeling good. These days for my own clarity I tend to tell myself actualism is about the move into feeling good (which is where the change happens) rather than “feeling good each moment again” even if that’s the end goal and end result. Otherwise it’s too easy to skate over what is already the case, which is how you feel as a normal human being, or set up an impossible test for yourself to then chastise yourself for not living up to it.

Apropros, from Questions to R&V:



I used to get tired on my PCE walks. It was anxiety, so if you are yawning excessively maybe watch out for that.

If you are just sleepy in the normal way - feel for the emotional component to tiredness. But also naps are good so why not. Haha.


That makes perfect sense yeah. Wanting and liking is different. I am instinctually driven to want, to want this and that – in better terms it is the instinctual passion of desire. It is totally non-sensical – why desire something that you don’t like?

It is interesting how powerful this passion is. Even when I recognize that I’m not liking what I’m doing, the desire to do it continues and is very compelling.

I think I see how to handle this now. It’s like with anything else… feelings are not facts. Just because I feel like I want something, doesn’t mean I sincerely do want that, as in all of me being behind it… and just because I feel driven or a desire to do something, it doesn’t mean I have to do it.

1 Like

This is such an interesting topic to me even though it is essentially about doing nothing haha so thanks for bringing this up @claudiu.

When I first started applying the method I became aware of the fact that I was deathly terrified of doing nothing. It would bring up very intense feelings of boredom and meaningless. I came to realise pretty soon that ‘I’ needed a structure, a plan to operate on and if this was broken down I would experience very intense bouts of sorrow.

There always had to be a sense of ‘what do I do next’ something to provide hope for good feelings to be had in the future.

Eventually this fell away and I became somewhat comfortable letting my life happen of its own accord (to an extent), this was a huge relief as I no longer had this sense of ‘what do I do next’.

This is how I experience my days now, there is a certain smoothness to my moment to moment experience without the need to plan and look forward and control as much. However I am still not at that point of having a blast when sat in my room doing absolutely nothing.

However I can certainly see that this is possible from my PCEs, I recall that when in a PCE there is an enjoyment and appreciation that is intrinsic to the experience of existing right now. It is not an enjoyment and appreciation of something in particular but being here is what is enjoyable.

I get a sense of this more and more these days via pure intent, there is a certain ambience that I can tap into which is enjoyable in itself, nothing needs to be done in order to arrive at enjoyment, it is already here.

I am actually quite excited after reading @Srinath’s post to tap into this enjoyment and appreciation of doing nothing because I know that it is possible for me, I see where it is located. Now it is just the case of orienting myself towards it and allowing it.

1 Like

Nice :smiley:

I’m glad I posted this as it really helped clarify things. The insight I had today is that this “desire” is me. I am the desire. It isn’t that I ‘have’ this ‘unfortunate desire’ to do things – I (the feeling-being writing this) really am that very desire.

Which then makes sense why suppressing it won’t work… and why expressing it certainly won’t either (that just leads to more desire). Rather the only way to ‘resolve’ the issue is to allow myself to no longer go in that direction of ‘desire’ yet again.

And the key also is this has nothing to do with whether the intent of the desire should be undertaken or not. It may or may not make sense to do what I desire… but that is a decision to be made with sensibility not by following feelings or instinctual passions. Above all it is certainly silly to continue going down the path of desire, when such a wonderful alternative is available.

1 Like

Doing nothing has always been really easy for me. I’ve spent most of my summer holidays sat on the bed watching Netflix all day and absolutely loving it! I’ve never really had the urge to pursue being busy or keeping my self occupied with things and to a lot of people around me it may seem like I’m being lazy and I always thought there must be something wrong with me if I don’t have that drive to be constantly busy and “on the grind” so it’s nice knowing now that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying doing nothing :slight_smile:


I’m not sure that watching netflix all day, keeping yourself entertained, counts as “doing nothing”.
Srinath’s description is quite apt:

Have you just sat in a room by yourself and just enjoyed that room? A view is nice but optional. At first you’ll want to check your phone, watch youtube videos etc. You might feel twinges of boredom, restlessness and claustrophobia. But as you let yourself settle in you’ll start to notice nice little things here and there within the room that you can like and enjoy. Eventually you could be sitting down for quite a while just enjoying the space, taking it in, having some nice thoughts and reflections about this and that too.

Personally, I like it better outside :sun_with_face: :deciduous_tree: :bird:
Sitting, walking, laying down…
Or, to refer to Richard’s usual list of what human bodies do: eating and drinking, waking and talking… “urinating and defecating” (26 hits :grin:)…
Not necessarily outside tho :joy:

So would being entertained sitting outside watching birds or looking at flowers also not count as doing nothing? I guess I see doing nothing as not partaking in any activity that society would count as purposeful or meaningful :slight_smile:

To me it seems like doing ‘nothing’ in this context is to do with the lack of drive and also lack of distraction. It is the enjoyment of anything at all but also nothing in particular which I guess would be easiest to tap into when not doing any specific activities but instead tapping into an enjoyment and appreciation that is not predicated upon things happening a certain way. E.g planning to enjoy a walk is great until it rains and I find myself stuck at home, enjoying a Netflix show is good until that show is cancelled or the TV breaks. So that would be a conditional enjoyment which usually revolves around ‘doing things’. The other side of this would be an enjoyment and appreciation that is not contingent and as such it does not require ‘doing’ to take place, it is already here.


Saying this though, it does seem like pure intent is key for this to take place. I say this because in the PCE it is so clear that there is an enjoyment and appreciation that has nothing to do with ‘me’. It’s an enjoyment and appreciation that is forever current and not predicated upon anything. Any thoughts?