Is laziness a bad thing or a good thing?
When are you being lazy?
I want to offer you great inspiration and creative ideas, but I’m just lazy it seems. I’m lazy not to be more ambitious and give you, the faithful reader, a wider perspective and inspirational field to read about. Sitting on my night table are books about Edison, Bell and some guy who made advances in something or other. But I haven’t been reading them. This month I am supposed to be focusing on scientists and what inspired them. As I did last month with visual artists, I want to blog about how I was able to use their inspirational techniques to keep me creative in my everyday life. But I’m not, so why fight it? I’m going to write about laziness.
Earlier this month I was in a weekend retreat for level three Shambhala Training that focused on developing and deepening my meditation practice. My meditation practice is like many things in my life. It is the sort of thing I want to do. It matters to me. I value it. If I were asked to name two things I’d change in my life that would instantly make it more fulfilling I’d name meditation and a yoga practice.
Perhaps you recognize this pattern? You know what you want in your life, you get inspired to get going at it and the first week you are rocking it. You stick to your goal and feel great. By week two you are still doing pretty well, but you might have missed one or two of those gym appointments or eaten that dessert you swore you wouldn’t. By week three you are at about half the commitment of time and energy you originally had. By the end of the month you have fallen of the wagon completely with the excuse that life just got in the way, but you’ll get back to it. Soon.
Meditation has so many benefits I love, but the truth is, sitting on a cushion for 15 minutes every day, following my breath and taking a step away from my thoughts, was seeming lazy to me. When I got to this weekend retreat I had been on that slide where I went from meditating 5 days a week for 30 minutes to not doing it at all because I was too busy doing important things.
My heart knows it gives me greater peace daily, it regenerates me and I relish it. But when I go to sit down my head brings out the days schedule and says no. There is a never ending ‘to do’ list that is important and sitting is lazy. That’s all there is to it. One of the talks in the retreat warned us to beware laziness. But in this case, laziness was defined in cocooning yourself with familiar distractions so that you never have to meet your mind. Laziness was hiding in busy work that distracts you from what really matters in your life. Not sitting on the cushion was lazily avoiding knowing my own mind and therefore not being fully present in my life every moment. I was missing my life by being too busy to really live it.
So while I thought sitting was lazy and I should be doing something productive, by this definition, I was being lazy in the very thing that mattered to me.
The youngest of our participants was 12 years old and she told a story about her family moving into a new house. Her brother was in a hurry to have his work over and he began to take dangerous loads piled high above his head. His father admonished him for taking the ‘lazy man load’. The load that means as few trips as possible. That’s what I was doing. I was in such a hurry in my life to get God knows where, and I was taking the lazy man’s load. Rushing through and not taking care of myself with respect. Every diet, exercise plan, New Years resolution you abandon you do out of laziness. Not from a higher purpose. You take the easy road, path of least resistance and pretend it is working harder. But it isn’t. It is laziness with yourself.
That redefining of ‘lazy’ sinks deeper into me every day. Rushing and piling things on is just me being lazy in my life. Skipping out on my daily meditation is lazy.
I was living a real disconnect. To say something is important and then never make time for it? Cleaning up my desk last week I discovered several journals with lists made over the last 5 years where I wrote down the top five things I really wanted more of in my life. Every list says Meditate and Yoga. I continually dishonor this request I make of myself because I kept telling myself that it was selfish and I let myself be lazy in skipping this refilling of my own well to do more daily busy work. If everything else I do is so important, why isn’t it at the top of the list year after year?
Reclaiming lazy has been powerful. I used to look at my meditation cushion and think-“don’t sit there, do something. You are so lazy.” And I would start folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher or making the bed or paying bills. Now, when I look at the clock and think I don’t have the 15 minutes every day I promised myself of meditation I remember what lazy really means. And I sit.