The Art of Underdoing

The Art of Underdoing

The Art of Underdoing

Hope you’re having a great holiday break!

I just got back from a six-day silent retreat at Spirit Rock.

I loved every moment of the retreat and highly recommend it!

I meditated in noble silence for 16 hours per day, sitting on warm wooden floors, walking meditation in nature, and doing work meditation in the kitchen and meditation hall.

The focus of this retreat was Metta and Qigong.

The Chinese word qigong means “energy cultivation.” Qi is the universal life force, and gong is both the action and the result of disciplined effort over time. The practice of qigong honors and cultivates this “energy” aspect of our being—the life force that permeates our body—and creates our overall well-being.

One of the things I learned from our teacher Teja Bell, a 40 year Qigong Master was the concept of Under Doing. Whenever he showed us a qigong move like Radiant Body breathing or Heaven and Earth he coaxed us to relax.

In our society, we’re so accustomed to overdoing, overexerting perhaps due to competition, or overcompensating to hide a lack of skill or confidence.

To achieve the right balance try the following:

Before you start a project ask:
What is the right optimal effort when taking on a project?

If you’re in a middle of a project ask:
What would happen if we chose to relax and release a natural flow of energy that was focused and balanced?

What type of world would we live in if we were able to harness this energy through focus and concentration?

Well, it would probably look like taking fewer steps to complete a project, fewer hours undoing our mistakes because of a frenetic quick start.

Here are some other tips to practice undergoing:

  • Create a calm environment where you can easily focus and concentrate. This could include clearing clutter and playing soothing music to relax your brain. (See the Sacred Playlist on the website)
  • Before you begin a project, clarify what and why you’re going to do with yourself, and then make sure you communicate this clearly with others.
  • Start where you are. Make sure that your project is doable so that it can be done with the resources you have now (not resources you wish you had)
  • Make sure that your project is aligned with your standards of integrity, your core values.
  • Set up sweet milestones so you can gauge how far you’ve come along.
  • Fine-tune your approach by reflecting on your milestones so you can reflect and review what’s been done and see how you can improve things going forward.
  • Relax both while working and when you are not at it.
  • Have fun. Remember life is a playing field
  • Give what you’re doing your full attention and learn to sit and STAY with the effort.
  • Let your right effort be its own reward.

How will you practice underdoing over the holidays?

Do share! I’d love to hear from you!