Friday, September 25, 2009

Nurturing Nothing Brings Everything

(This post is in response to Jamie Ridler's Book Club, The Next Chapter, where we are reading The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.)

As part of my response to my own spiritual dry spell, I instituted a daily candle sit. I don't time myself, but every day, I sit with a lit purple candle. I focus first on a letting go exercise, and then after that, I try to just listen.

I've told myself that this is a 40 day experiment, but I also told myself that we would give up our car as a one year experiment and now we are car-free for over 8 years, so we'll see how long 40 days lasts.

I've been doing the candle sit for a few days, and I can tell a difference already. I feel a bit lighter, a bit more patient. Just a bit.

Don't get me wrong -- I totally suck at sitting still and being quiet. But I also know that about two months ago, I totally sucked at doing certain exercises and now I am getting super strong thanks to persistence.

I am thinking (hoping) that the same is true with the candle sitting.

Because I agree with Martha Beck in The Joy Diet that the first ingredient of a joyful/intentional life should be a time of doing nothing every day. My favorite quote from chapter one:

Fully occupied by the process
of achieving
goals, we lose the ability

to determine which goals
really matter, and why.

I think this is exactly why my spiritual dry spell happened: I was so occupied by achieving.

But then something changed everything: Dance. Yes. Again with the dance.

Suddenly, I was doing this essential-to-me thing every day and not knowing why.

Besides the obvious answer that it is essential to me, I want there to be more reason, more "pay off."

I wake in the middle of the night so frustrated and a bit...scared. Why am I doing what I am doing? Why am I going to all of these trainings? Where is it all taking me? What is the end goal?

All of these questions and right now, I can't answer a single one.

This is where Nothing becomes Everything.

Let yourself be silently
drawn by the stronger pull
of what you really love.


It is in the sitting, the being quiet and still, that eventually I know answers will start to emerge from the shadowy, dark edges. Whispers will become more discernible. Dreams long buried will take new form.

Later today, I will board a bus and head to Cleveland, where tomorrow, I will be facilitating the writing part of the Creative Dig Workshop. I don't know where this is leading me. There are many moments when I have no idea why I am doing this, why the heck I am stepping outside my comfort zone.

But like lifting weights, I am slowly strengthening different sorts of muscles that I barely knew I had, and I am learning from sitting quietly that the not knowing, the feeling blind can be a powerful place so I am willing to let go just a little bit of all the control and see what magic might come unbidden, unplanned, unspoken.

What would happen if you let go and planned for nothing?

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed,, 2009)


Emma said...


And sometimes we do things simply because we love them. Isn't that reason enough?

I've often struggled with finding a 'larger' goal to things I've wanted to do. For instance, things I've wanted to do simply for the creative act of doing them, I have turned into money-making ideas. I've spoiled many an enjoyable creative activity this way.

Eventually I started trying to do things JUST because I wanted to, refusing to create a big scheme around them. It was still hard, because my tendency was to search for how this thing will be HUGE and save me from the parts of my life I don't like and save the WORLD and etc!

This is not to say that making money doing something creative is bad, of course, or that what you, Christine, are doing right now will not grow into new things! These are just some thoughts from my own life.

Doing something because you love it is an end in itself.

Melita said...

the candle thing sounds magnificent, very meditative. i am glad that you are doing this. i love seeing your take on the book :)

differenceayearmakes said...

I want to tell you to have a beautiful creative dig!! So exciting.

I think my high holy days practice coinciding with the practice of nothing have combined powerfully. I'm feeling so much clearer. Just some demon guilt wresting occasionally required.

sherry ♥ lee said...

Patience, Practice and Ritual...I think sitting with a candle is an act that you feel part of and the ritual puts you in a place of mindfulness so that you feel you are doing something to create the nothing. And you said it well...nurturing nothing brings everything. Amen to that. said...

You write with such clarity and elegance. I'd like to try the candle exercise. That may actually be effective for me. :)

linaka said...

Total side note but I just realized that I never thanked you for the wonderful free poster! I have printed out several copies, laminated them and given them to the amazing women in my life.

It was - is - a beautiful gift to us all and I sincerely thank you for sharing your gift with us.

peace - linda

Karen D said...

You right with such clarity, it is a pleasure to read. I like the idea of candle sitting, it sounds soothing. I hope you have much fun at your workshop.

Beth Dargis said...

In this world of expecting a payoff immediately it somehow feels right to wait and not know. Embracing, discovering, and following where that leads.

Lisa said...

I do something similar with my candle.... thanks for sharing your experiences with nothingness! I always enjoy reading your words...

Jan said...

I love planning for nothing. Doing nothing is what absolutely suits my soul and makes it sing...Glad so many are navigating through the Beck book. A marvelous invitation to those of us who have put off living with real joy. :-)

Ellecubed said...

I love the way that you have personalized doing nothing. I think I am going to also try the candle exercise. I like how it makes doing nothing more of a ritual.

Kara aka Mother Henna said...

I looooooooove the term "Candle Sit"! So often I hit dry spells or just the fallow and fight it fight it fight, push the river. But when practicing the habit to just sit in response, everything in my softens. It becomes NOT fallow but just another piece of the creative puzzle. Equally important to do nothing as to do something at other times. Allowing it all to be okay was a huge thing here. Congrats on the upcoming workshop! Have fun...I see you stepping into the skin that is just beyond that line of "comfort zone" so that comfort zone moves out there! MIracles, k-

gemma said...

Wonderful post. The act of lighting a candle and following through the ritual of listening is inspiring.

Arlene said...

I love the idea of a "candle sit"! What a beautiful way to describe it. I, too, have started the habit of lighting a candle every time I enter my studio to do some artwork. I like, though, that you make the lighting of the candle an even into itself. Wonderful! So glad to be sharing this journey with you!

Laurina said...

I just love your blog, thanks for sharing your journey with us. It's inspiring! :) (and yes, l'll try the 'candle sit' too ...

becky n said...

I really appreciate your willingness to sit with questions at this stage. It is my experience, also, that I'm not always sure why I'm doing something, where it might take me, but somehow feeling it will be ok and certainly interesting. and to find something that we love to do - my goodness - that is something to cherish.

Genie Sea said...

I love the daily building of it all. The total dedication and willingness. The drive and the stillness. Beautiful, Christine! :)

Helen said...

A wonderful entry! Now I'm going to light that candle and sit with a sense of listening for what makes my heart joyful. Thanks!

Valli said...

Such a wonderful sharing. I'm glad that you are doing what you love. Please just keep doing that. Enjoy your workshop.

Snap said...

Beautiful post and beautiful sharing. Good luck in Cleveland and have FUN.

I must remember the candle when I get stuck. And I do get Stuck every now and then and need a little extra push to NOTHING.

It is amazing how it can clear and refresh the mind, soul, body for new and different things.

Here's to NOTHING!

(Nice to visit with you again dear friend.)

WrightStuff said...

Ooh, I wonder how you're getting on at the creative dig? It's a bit far for me... there's an awful lot of ocean to cross.
That's how 'nothing' was for me this week - an awful lot of ocean...
I'm getting there, but it really helps reading how others are getting on and sharing some of the highs and lows of the experience. Thanks

yogag33k said...

Such an inspiring blog you have created here! It rings true that we're all so caught up in doing, achieving...its amazing what some BEING can do! Good luck on your journey.. <3