The Dutch have this practice they call Niksen (from niks doen, literally “nothing-ing.”) It entails being intentional about doing absolutely nothing. Doing something without purpose. A sort of sanctioned daydreaming indeed.
Niksen is gazing out the window and letting your mind wander. Unlike mindfulness meditation, in Niksen, you’re not observing your thoughts. You aren’t focusing on your breath. Nor are you bringing awareness back to the present moment.
In Niksen, you’re just being. You’re taking a break. You’re practicing stillness. You’re staring vacantly at the horizon. You’re taking the time to sit or stand—just be wherever you are. And you don’t do anything on purpose. No effort whatsoever. When thoughts occur, you don’t interrogate them; you simply let them come and go as they please.
As a stress-busting technique, Niksen is increasingly popular. Doing nothing is turning your back on hyper-connectedness and the storm of stress, anxiety, and depression. Scientists have shown that letting your minds escape from the task at hand helps different parts of your brain activate. This allows you to access information that may have previously been dormant and inaccessible. This accounts for creativity and heralds insights into wisdom.
Idea for Impact: Try Niksen, even for a minute or two each hour. It’s a great way to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room in moments of tension and fretfulness. At a minimum, brief escapes can add color and intrigue to your life and open you out beyond the quotidian.
Jan Nguyen says
I’m most imaginative when I can escape the overload of the senses we are all enslaved to. For me, being in nature with no diversion is my primary source of inspiration.