WuWei: The Art of Not Forcing

WuWei  (a term deriving from early Daoism) means to ‘not force the way of things’ in life. And instead to flow with nature, to lean downstream, or as Alan Watts describes it as ‘the art of sailing rather than rowing’. Not to be misunderstood as laziness, but rather engaging in effortless action. Indeed the Dao […]

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WuWei  (a term deriving from early Daoism) means to ‘not force the way of things’ in life.

And instead to flow with nature, to lean downstream, or as Alan Watts describes it as ‘the art of sailing rather than rowing’. Not to be misunderstood as laziness, but rather engaging in effortless action. Indeed the Dao reminds us to ‘do nothing, and yet leave nothing undone’.

So how does this translate into real life?

Leaning into presence

Living in harmony (as opposed to resistance) with the present moment through sensing what arises in the now, and continually responding to that – nothing more, nothing less is needed of you. From here, we approach our tasks from a place of ease and flow, acceptance and peace – knowing when to retire when our work is done.

The hustle impedes the growth

When we chase and strive, and push to get out ahead, we might do so briefly but like traffic, we beat the queue to join the back of another one. Instead, when we slow down to allow ourselves to receive inspired action, we create life shortcuts, through right time/right place synchronicities, and intuitive insights, not to mention pitstops from the hustle treadmill.

Beyond life milestones

As Wayne Dyer reminds us, there is nothing to prove, and no end-goal to reach. There is a time for being ahead, and a time for being behind. To the sage all of life is a move towards perfection – no need for extravagance, or extreme or excess in any direction. Life is a continual unfolding, unpacking, and unlearning. We’ll never get to the bottom of it, so the more we can lean into the art of not forcing, the easier the overall ride.

3 WuWei Inspired Practices to explore…

Cultivating presence

  • Sitting with yourself, and listening to the silence on a regular basis

Single-tasking

  • Focusing on one task at a time, in essence slowing down in the short term to speed up in the long run

The journey, not the destination

  • An oldie but a goodie – letting life reveal the path to you, or in other words you do your bit, then relax and release attachment to outcomes, and life matches you halfway!
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