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Wu Wei

Wu Wei

Why Force It? What The Taoist Principle of Wu Wei Can Teach Us About Life.
As much as we try to, we simply can’t will everything into existence. Flights are delayed last minute, kids get sick, thunder lurks beneath even the brightest horizons. Sometimes things will not mold the way we sculpt them. And the solution isn’t to push down harder with the chisel--misdirected force is how we break things that did not need fixing in the first place. What if instead, we put down the chisel and worked with the clay rather than against it?

The Taoist philosophy of wu wei, which translates to “non-doing” or “non-action”, offers an alternative approach. While wu wei translates to doing nothing, it doesn’t mean to literally do nothing. Instead it describes flowing with the current of life, rather than against it.

Wu wei is coasting along a beach path on a summer night, warm air brushing against your cheeks reminding you that life is golden. In this state of flow nothing exists except you and whatever you are doing in that moment. There is no struggle or excessive effort and things just seem to work.

Action taken from this place isn’t forced. It’s those trips that plan themselves, the dinners with family where everyone gets along, that point during a run where the right song comes on and carries you through the rest of the trail. The common denominator is that when acting from this state, all of the pieces seem to fall together effortlessly. We are moving through the motions required to carry out a task, but it’s not an uphill drudgery kind of movement. The outcome of every action we put forth is multiplied, gaining momentum like a snowball expanding as it rolls downhill.

How can we incorporate more wu wei into our lives? For one, we can strike while the iron is hot, i.e act right away when we feel the inclination to do something, thus riding on the sails of inspiration. Another option is to create space for flow each day. This can be setting aside an hour to paint, run, journal, read, etc.. before we go into the to-dos of the day.  An hour spent engrossed in something you love infuses every other area of your life with that same sense of ease and childlike joy. Work projects flow better, patience is easier to find, we stop taking ourselves so seriously and overall are more pleasant to be around.

Wu wei disrupts the chorus of the mind and allows us fall in sync with a universal rhythm that unites all living things. The same force that drives the geese down south each winter spurs our inclinations to pick up an activity and lose track of the hours. Losing time is a sign that your inner compass is working. When this is what guides you, no force is necessary.


Conscious Ink Staffer 

Amanda Brown is a wellness blogger and a member of the Conscious Ink Team at our home office in Bend, OR. She is passionate about helping people find peace with where they are at while pursuing their best, most fulfilling lives. For more of her work, you can head over to her blog at www.liminalwellness.com.

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