Wu Wei

Darryl Bachmeier
Jun 9, 2020

Wu Wei. Ancient China. Great Wall of China. Outside misty mountains.

Can you achieve something by doing nothing? Well, it seems so, but not quite so literally. There is a significant concept of Taoism called Wu Wei. It’s Chinese, and it literally translates to “non-doing” or doing nothing. What it stands for is a natural action. That means an action that doesn’t involve excessive effort or struggle. Wu Wei is actually the cultivation of a certain mental state in which your actions are very effortlessly in alignment with what we call the flow of life. So, basically, it’s going with the flow, and it’s characterized by a feeling of great ease when we are spontaneously acting perfectly. It’s when you’re doing the right thing spontaneously and effortlessly, without even trying.

Haven’t you ever started doing something where everything seemed to just flow, and you felt like you became one with the world? We often refer to it as being in the zone, and it’s very similar to what we are talking about now. When you’re doing it, it all comes out naturally, but once you start actively thinking about the thing that you’re doing, it compromises the state you were in. Wu Wei is on a different level than thinking. It isn’t a directive action that comes out of goals and desires.

Do you consider going with the flow to be laziness? Well, you couldn’t be further from the truth, cause that’s not the meaning of Wu Wei. What it actually means is taking the actions that flow naturally because you’re connected to the very flow of life. There is a big difference between doing nothing because of laziness and doing nothing because you’re going with the flow. Wu Wei is an incredible mental state that you’ve probably experienced already without being aware of it. If you want to reach this mental state again, you’re going to need a few tips on how to do it. Here are they:

  1. Focus on what you’re doing at the moment

    Getting in the flow is the first step. You can do that by intensely focusing on whatever you’re doing at the moment. That way, you’ll manage to merge with the thing you’re doing. It will make time seem irrelevant, and you’ll become one with whatever you’re doing at the moment. Your actions will feel effortless, and they’ll be of the highest quality. Just stay focused and “in the zone” and do the thing you’re doing for at least half an hour. While doing so, make sure to avoid any distractions, and you can achieve that when you create an environment that you need.

  2. Stop thinking

    It sounds so easy, yet it can be so hard. Still, in order to “get in the zone” how they call it in sports, you’ll have to clear your mind. Natural flow can’t happen when you’re overthinking. Wu Wei doesn’t allow for compulsive thinking. What can help is to take a break. Get out of your house and try to get away from everything so you could reconnect. Getting in touch with nature could really help you achieve that. Another trick you can use is to realize that you’re not your mind. When you get distracting thoughts that aren’t helpful, don’t react to them and try to let go of all of them. After all, thoughts come and go, let them go without paying too much attention to it.

  3. Grow as a person

    The most profound as well as long-term way is personal development. Work on yourself and on your mind. It will help you grow, and it will, in addition, increase your self-awareness. That is precisely what will bring you to the right mental state for Wu Wei to happen. After all, personal development is an investment in yourself that will open your mind and show you other perspectives. It will make you more helpful and compassionate towards others. What’s the side effect? Well, it will undoubtedly increase your self-awareness, as I mentioned, so that’s an excellent side effect.

  4. Consciously grow awareness

    Once you’ve done all the previous steps, it’s time for increasing your awareness and doing it deliberately. So, how do you do that? Well, it’s easy, all it takes is a little effort and dedication. You can start consciously growing awareness by reading spiritual and mind-opening books. I’m sure that there are some excellent documentaries about the subject that you can watch as well. Let’s not forget about the internet, which is the largest source of information on everything you want to know, including consciously growing awareness. So, research a bit and read everything that you can find that seems helpful. Just by taking the time to actually read and learn more about it, you’re already doing something that will turn out to be useful. Personal development starts with reading, but it shouldn’t end with it. A common practice that’s good for clearing your mind is meditation. So, try to meditate whenever you can. As for when you’re doing something, try to become one with it instead of thinking about it. Don’t think, don’t try, just do.

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