During my recent health crisis, I did some serious pondering, searching and reflection to learn about myself and what I was doing/did that was affecting my health. As part of this journey, I studied the work of Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu, who wrote the Taoist manual, Tao Te Ching. As I learnt from him and other ancient philosophers, I realised I could (and should) be achieving more (of what was really important to me) by actually doing less. Here are my thoughts and insights on this topic…
Can you actually achieve more by doing less? This Wei Wu Wei, or action through inaction principle initially came out of Lao Tzu’s classic Tao Te Ching, and is about knowing when effort is appropriate and when it’s wasted. Wu Wei literally means non-doing. It is natural action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.
There are valuable things in life that cannot be achieved by simply trying harder; what’s more, efforts to achieve them can be self-defeating. For example, happiness is not something you seek, but rather the by-product of doing things that make you happy.
Over the past few months, I’ve been learning to achieve more by doing less – I’ve been learning the art of Wei Wu Wei…
As you know, I have decided not to practice at our Brisbane clinic any longer. It was a really difficult decision to make. In fact, it took me a few years to actually take action. As an integrative doctor and naturopath practicing in Brisbane for over a decade, I felt responsible not only to my Brisbane patients, but also to my staff and practitioners. As a result, I was reticent to stop working there, even though I knew it was the right thing for me to do.
I didn’t know how I was going to solve the logistical, physical and emotional problems associated with the decision to stop my Brisbane practice, as I was in so much conflict about it. Part of me wanted to stay and continue to look after the clients I loved, but part of me was exhausted and wanted to stop the long commute and the long days.
This confusion paralysed me into inaction – and when we are confused, the universe doesn’t really get a clear message of what we truly want, and we stay stuck doing the same old thing, even if it clearly no longer serves us. And this is what was happening to me, year after year.
Then, once I actually made the decision to wind down the Ashgrove Clinic to a much smaller satellite clinic and declared it to my team – somehow, over time, the seemingly insurmountable problems and difficult logistics found a way of getting solved, step-by-step.
I had to align with what was going to serve my highest self in the long term, so I could truly be at service to as many people as possible. It was not about being selfish. For me to step up to be fully present and available to my patients with focus and dedication required me to commit to SELF CARE and not squander my precious energy in activities that no longer served me.
I decided to focus on how I could show up and be the best version of me, loving my work, feeling enthusiastic and vital. Doing so would enable me to share my expertise in a way that would serve as many people as possible.
And if this principle of achieving more by doing less could work for me, I can’t help wonder whether it could work for you too…
I know that it takes COURAGE to take action, but sometimes that’s what is required if we want to make the best out of our lives. And this courage may need to be applied to our work.
You see, we are taught to work as a means of value in the world, as a way to prove that we are worthy. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with working, and it has some amazing benefits, but many women have entered into a state of diminishing returns when it comes to working. We often feel that in order to be worthy we must prove our value to the world by the amount of things we “do”, even when doing so negatively affects our health, our happiness and our relationships. In this way, the more work we do, the more negative impacts it creates in our lives – a true application of the law of diminishing returns.
You see, there is a great cost to this idea that we must do more and more – as mothers, as wives, and as women. This cost is seen in our own health, our happiness, and the relationships with those we love.
Many of us drive ourselves into the ground trying to keep up with the high expectations and obligations to our family, work and society.
To maintain this ‘Superwomen’ status, we have to muster strong, Masculine Energy.
Doing so doesn’t acknowledge the feminine capacity of being able to powerfully hold space for those around us, as well as support, nurture, and guide others with our intuitive gifts. Sometimes we forget that we are sacred vessels, and we need to be topped up to be able to continue giving.
When we decide to consciously fill our feminine ‘vessel’ with a healthy lifestyle, nourishing physical and spiritual food, creative outlets, inspiration, the love and community of others, time and space to relax and have fun, etc., we embrace and wield our fearless feminine power.
When we don’t take time to nourish ourselves, our capacity to give becomes completely emptied, and this creates exhaustion, overwhelm and resentment for many women.
In the end, we end up not sharing our best gifts to the world, because we are tired and stuck from always ‘doing’ things for those around us.
We need to change our masculine paradigm and re-establish a focus on SELF CARE and REST. When we do so, we can access our remarkable intuition, tune into our feminine divine power and steer our lives with PURPOSE and with JOY – helping and supporting those around us in powerful ways.
As for me, the decision to let go of Ashgrove wasn’t easy. But when I decided to relax into the decision and see what solutions would arise, things started to fall into place. And by embracing these changes, I started to realise the value of Lao Tzu’s principle of Wei Wu Wei – achieving more by doing less.
I now realise that it’s especially important for me, as a woman, to take time to recharge and develop my innate, feminine gifts. I do this through resting, relaxing and ‘receiving’ life, rather than forcing and working for it. When we, as women, take time to stop ‘doing things’ and let things come to us – we will find that we will be in greater harmony with the natural energies of the universe – because women’s greatest power is held in the Yin aspect of life – the ‘receiving’. Receiving energies include intuition, pondering, emotional support, listening and creativity. Lao Tzu understood the power of the feminine aspect of life – he realised that not all things need to be ‘chased’ – he knew that, in nature, joy and meaning are also ‘received’ through the feminine Yin energy. As he so rightly put:
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”.
As for me, my intention is to set forward a brand new way of BEING in the world and honouring myself as a woman, and I hope that you decide to join with me in doing so.
I have taken this decision to simplify my life so that I can be more of the woman I am here to be. I hope that this will translate into my approach to caring and supporting you through your health journey. I also hope that as we walk down this feminine path together, we will be able to hold space, encourage and support each other.
Let us cultivate the Wei Wu Wei concept and let go of trying to CONTROL our lives with certainty. Letting go of our FEARS and allowing the universe to reveal more of what is in store for us will let the ‘magic’ back into our lives – the magic of being a woman. When we align our lives with what we deeply know is right for us in our hearts, we will find that doing the right thing will come effortlessly, spontaneously and without trying.
Yours in health
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