Take a step back and ask yourself…
Do I enjoy any true leisure?
Or is my life an endless string of time-stressed busyness?
In the phenomenal book “The Tao of Abundance“, Laurence G. Boldt defines leisure as “activity free of time remembrance.” Essentially, leisure is any experience in which you’re wholeheartedly “lost in the moment.”
We’ve all experienced this state… Hiking a mountain with no concept of “clock time” or a schedule. Long-term travel with no specific agenda, just going with the flow. Diving into creative work and completely losing track of time. At a party, celebrating with kindred spirits, with no concern of past or future. A session of lovemaking when you’re so utterly immersed in the ecstasy of the eternal now.
We instinctively long for these exhilarating reminders of our timeless essence. We chase them, sometimes through unhealthy means, because we don’t “leisure” as frequently as we need to for a deeply fulfilling and enjoyable life.
When was the last time you stopped to fully appreciate the moment? Re-start that practice now. Constantly remind yourself to “be here now.” Bask in the glory of the moment and notice how deeply fulfilling it is.
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? And I mean nothing. Not watching TV. Not playing video games. Not snapchatting selfies to Selma the secretary. Seriously, when was the last time you allowed yourself to just BE? Simply “being” is a smirk-inducing oneness with the moment; a merging into the sea of infinite bliss.
“Every moment is the best, that’s enlightenment.” – Eckhart Tolle
We live in a culture that is so frantically busy that we forget to allow ourselves to simply be. No input. No over-stimulation. Just marinating in the peaceful stillness of the moment. We often fail to remember how critical that is for intrinsic fulfillment.
The “time-crunch” we’ve conceded to doesn’t give us enough room to breathe. Because we don’t allow ourselves to ever fully rest (or experience leisure), it severely inhibits our ability to fire on all cylinders. That’s why most people trudge through life in this gray-zone of half-activity, never at ease, yet never at full throttle either. Everything is a balance of the yin and yang. On and off. Activity and rest. Balls to the wall, and balls to the… floor?
The grinding state of constant, compulsive half-action is insidious. It wears you down, while steadily lowering your maximum capacity. It’s burning the candle at both ends.
Let’s take sprinting (which is completely based upon generating maximum speed) as an example. Do sprinters sprint 24/7? Of course not. They have carefully calculated training programs, with rest being equally as important as the actual training. Sprinters also spend the overwhelming majority of their time resting. Even their training sessions, which include short bursts of high intensity sprinting, are intermixed with much longer periods of rest. If an athlete attempted to sprint unceasingly, they would quickly tire, and within minutes be relegated to crawling around the track. But this is how many people try to move through life. In a desperate attempt to keep pushing, they end up at an incessant, exhausting crawl; with no time to rest (so they think), no energy left to move at full speed and no clarity to even question why they’re doing it in the first place.
Most masters in anything are masters in both their craft and leisure. They operate like an on/off switch, with each paradigm sharpened by focused present moment awareness. Look at the greatest martial artists. They are unbelievably calm and peaceful, but once it’s time for action, they are lightning fast and immensely powerful. Without intense rest, there can be no intense action. Without intense action, there can be no intense rest.
Loss of presence disturbs both the restful state and the active state. In the case of the martial artist, thinking about the past or future will inhibit the peace of mind associated with rest. On the other hand, thinking about the past or future while in a match will quickly leave you incapacitated by your opponent. This is the embodiment of leisure through both profound rest and profound activity. When leisure permeates the entire spectrum of your being, you live vibrantly, instead of merely existing.
Tim Ferriss, who is just slightly more productive than the average person (I hope you caught the sarcasm), is semi-famous for alternating between intense activity and intense rest. When he writes, for example, he dives into it with intensive focus for a short block of time, followed by a break. This applies to life’s larger cycles as well. Tim said that he recently took 30 days off from any kind of work. A month of pure leisure and just being. He said it was a deeply revitalizing self-reset, and he came back to his work more focused than ever. Ok, you don’t necessarily have to take 30 days off from everything, but you can apply the same principles to your own unique situation. And speaking of those types of escapades…
Let’s talk about “real leisure.”
Honestly, do you get any real leisure? Moments when you’re so absorbed in the magnificence of the moment that nothing else exists?
As a society, we’re so leisure-starved that even our “time off” lacks leisure. Most people’s vacations are laughably short and desperately rushed, consisting of scrambling to catch flights, rigid schedules, hour-by-hour plans and the impending dread of having to go back to work.
However, one moment in which you truly allow yourself to just be makes it all worth it. This image, which epitomizes the word leisure, comes to mind… Sitting on a beach, soaking in the sunset and listening to the delicate crash of waves on the shore. That is all that exists, nothing else. A single moment experienced as a serendipitous eternity.
And don’t think you have to be on a beach to experience true leisure. That’s just a situation which is highly conducive to the experience of leisure. But literally anything that gets you lost in the moment is leisure. Leisurely experiences can, and do, vary wildly from person-to-person. For some people, solving mathematical equations might be leisure. For others, walking in the woods. For me, writing this right now is leisure. It could be anything. The experience of real leisure just feels right, as if you’ve delightfully surrendered within the warm embrace of your divine essence.
Cherish the now. Leisure is as simple as realizing that this moment is all that exists. Constantly remind yourself to “be here now.” The past and future are only projections of your mind. Fully immerse yourself in the euphoric ocean of eternal now and experience the ecstasy of everlasting rejuvenation.
Here are three sure-fire ways to experience true leisure and get lost in the moment:
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
Simply being aware that now is all that exists is transformative in and of itself. You will begin to catch yourself thinking about the past or future, inhibiting your experience of the present (all that really exists). With present moment awareness, sunsets suck you into divine bliss, landscapes lull you into luscious lucidity and parties become the climax of your very own movie. Awareness allows you to realize that there is nothing but now, and it is meant to be cherished.
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”- Eckhart Tolle
Dive into your passions and experience time melt away. There is a magical quality to being immersed in your passion, whatever it may be. Time and space dissolve, and you’re left in a state of simply being, with the Universe expressing itself through you.
If you don’t know what your passions are… What gives you those kind of feelings described above? What causes you to become lost in the moment?
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey
“To play in a childlike way is to let go of self-consciousness, to drop the armor of ego defenses, to give up pretenses and be what we are, plain and simple.” – Laurence G. Boldt
Playing is a primary part of our primal nature. It begets vibrant happiness and helps us cope with the harsh reality so many of us face in day-to-day life.
Play is also essential if you wish to be an optimal being. Not only an expression of love and joy, play cultivates creativity as well. It’s absolutely vital for the development of one’s mental, emotional and physical capacities.
“Play seems to be an essential feature in productive thought.” – Albert Einstein
Yet sadly, play is an activity that we strongly reject as “respectable adults.”
“Especially while at work, we tend to take a serious, nose-to-the-grindstone attitude. We have gotten the notion that to be a “grown-up” is to act stiff and “dignified.” We fear that others will not take us seriously if we allow them to see us acting silly or in a playful manner.” – Laurence G. Boldt
Unchain yourself from the shackles of what others think. Choose love over fear, and express yourself. Life is too short to suppress your unique brilliance.
Play a game. Play a sport. Run, climb, jump. Dance. Tease someone in a loving way. Laugh. Joke around. Be ridiculous.
Leap into the liberating liveliness of leisure.
You don’t need a vacation to experience leisure, nor does everything in your life need to be perfect. All you need to do is “be here now.”
Get lost in the moment.
So I’ll leave you with a question… Do you even leisure, bro?