The Anxiety of Doing Less / by Ariel Carson

Summertime is when we grant ourselves greater permission to take it easier. Maybe it's just that the heat slows us down, or our bodies forever remember summer vacations from school, but somehow we've collectively agreed that July and August mean it's okay to Do Less.

As someone in the business of helping people Do Less in their mind-body-selves I am in full support of this seasonal credo. However as we age, a sneaking mistrust of the ease this practice affords can overtake us. What about work hard, get it done, just do it, and don't stop? What about there's no such thing as a free lunch? What about all the items on our to-do lists, and the daily details that need tending to keep our lives in running order?

Doing Less can send us into a massive shame spiral where we believe we'll never accomplish anything; we'll never get where we want to go; we'll become irrelevant; we'll lose it all; we'll shrivel up into obscurity and wait idly for the end of our days. 

But from the embodied mindfulness perspective of the Alexander Technique, Doing Less helps us do what we want to do BETTER. We peel away the layers of extra effort so our actions become clearer, more intentional, more direct, and more efficient. 

Yes, but what do we have to DO to have better posture? What do we have to DO to get rid of our pain? What do we have to DO to feel freer in our body-mind-selves?

It's time to reframe the questions. Rather than what we can do, let’s ask what we can un-do. Ease is found in the "absence of" rather than as an "addition to". It's not that we get ease for free, it's that the cost of going after what we want becomes recognizing what we need to release in order to get it. 

Doing Less takes practice just like anything else. There are layers upon layers to uncover, and the more we believe that "working hard" and straining ourselves is the only way to accomplish something, the longer it takes to quiet that voice down in our mind and muscles.  

So I invite you to use these summer months as preparation to Do Less throughout the rest of the year. Get curious about what arises for you when you ask yourself to slow down and not have to work quite so hard. 

And to those voices that diminish your exploration, sense the weight of your muscles and bones in this moment. Open your senses to the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Do Less to receive more support. Do Less to take up all the space you are meant to inhabit. Do Less to allow more of who you are to emerge.

Do Less to become more of who you want to be.