The Art of Doing Nothing

| September 30, 2014

We put lots of pressure on our backs throughout the day, hunched over our computers, reading in awkward postures, or sleeping in otherwise uncomfortable ways. Over the course of typical grad student’s career, all this adds up to persistent aches: sore back muscles, hunched shoulders, dull pains in our neck, and the list goes on.

“Our muscles are linked to the brain and also contain sensory organs that send messages back to the brain,” explained Ted Dimon in one of the recent brown bag lectures being held at Teachers College focused on “Neurodynamics” or the study of the body in action. Dimon’s lecture series focuses on how to relieve back and muscle tension to avoid chronic wear and damage. “Muscles get distressed and what do we do about them? How do we respond?”

The “Neurodynamic Lunch Hour” held on September 30 attempted to circumvent some of the stress we place on our backs through maintaining one simple pose. The practice, which Dimon has dubbed “the non-doing exercise” is a way to restore over exerted muscles. The non-doing aspect of the pose is similar to Shavasana or resting pose in yoga, notes Dimon, “but, unlike in yoga, this has the specific goal of lengthening the spine and muscles.”

To practice the non-doing exercise, slowly lie down on the floor with your legs bent and your feet firmly planted so that there is a slight bend in your knees. Be sure to place a book behind your head, so that the back of your head can rest comfortably with the natural arch to your neck. While in this position, see if you can be mindful of the following:

  • Allow your neck muscles to relax and remember that your neck and head are an extension of your back and spine
  • Focus on trying to lengthen and broaden your back and spine while maintaining total contact with the floor
  • With your knees pointed up to the ceiling, allow them to relax while maintaining comfortable balanced posture

Try it yourself at home. Practice the art of non-doing to improve the health of your back and spine. “if your back is hurting or overstrained this is going to give it a rest,” says Dimon. “Learning how to do this has done more for me and my back than anything in my life.”

Check back again soon for more about the Neurodynamic Lunch Hour series, which is being sponsored by the Spirituality Mind Body Institute and Gottesman Libraries. Next week’s lecture will be held on October 7th and is entitled “ The Atlanto-Occipital Joint: The “Yes” or “No” Joint.”