As we teeter on the edge of a winter spent in lockdown, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the anxiety of it all. Our future remains uncertain in so many respects, as we are forced to change our lifestyles.
In many cases we are left with shifting priorities and huge upheaval in our work and social lives. But rather than fret about all that may or may not be, and what we can and cannot achieve in our new, unwelcomed set up, perhaps it’s time we give in. Not to the doom and gloom, but to the idea that maybe a slower pace and an acceptance that we may not want to or feel able to take on as much as we’re used to is not such a bad thing after all.
If you think back over the past year, you may remember the bread-baking craze, the crafting skills people the world over suddenly acquired and the days in isolation spent sleeping all day or sloping into a sort of lonely lethargy. A huge number of people shared feelings of guilt for indulging in these pastimes and for feeling unable to muster up the steam to be more productive with their time. But in truth, there is something very special about allowing yourself to sink in to ‘doing nothing’ and entering into a sublime state in which a human aspires for nothing – a celebrated concept in Dalmatia, Croatia, called Fjaka.
Admittedly, Fjaka is more commonly associated with the blazing Mediterranean sun baking the scorched earth rather than baking sourdough loaves. But the same inertia that hits when your mind and body slows to accommodate extreme temperatures can feel remarkably similar to the languor of being ‘locked up’. Of being presented with days of nothingness. Only if you choose to accept it, that is.
At this moment in time, we have no idea whether we’re facing another long stretch at home, so let’s learn from our mistakes. It is okay to do nothing. In fact, it is essential to do nothing, if that’s what your mind, body and soul needs. There is no requirement for you to fill every moment with ‘doing’ – just existing, and being happy with that, as when being taken by Fjaka, is enough.
But of course, in a society where we have been trained out of this natural habit, it can be tough to let go of your sensibilities enough to surrender to Fjaka. But we’re here to help with a few tips you can implement in your life this lockdown and beyond.
There’s no time like the present
Set yourself the task of going a full day (and night) without looking at the time. We all need to ensure that we’re taking full days off from time to time, so when you do, gift yourself the delight of just going with the day depending on how you’re feeling. Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, enjoy activities (or don’t!) for as long or as little as you like.
This will feel extremely strange at first, but very soon you’ll start to rediscover the natural position of noticing and trusting your needs, instincts and internal body clock. And if you struggle to relax into ‘the unknown’, a few drops of CBD through the day wouldn’t go amiss!
When we ‘switch off’ we’re very rarely actually doing that. We’ve become used to constant noise – whether that’s from scrolling on social media, reading the news, watching TV or being overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts. So as part of adopting Fjaka into your life, focus on the contentment of simply being. Even half an hour a day can be hugely beneficial.
Invite others to Fjaka with you
Fjaka may be a fairly solitary experience, in that as you release yourself into the moment of nothingness there’s not exactly any social interaction involved! It’s a pretty inward practice, really. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage others to take on this cultural shift with you. In fact, getting others on board might be very helpful if you expect people around you might serve as a distraction you’d rather not contend with.
Just accepting the comfort in nothingness with someone else doing the same nearby can actually offer a unique bonding experience. The epitome of learning to be at ease in the company of others, in silence and stillness.
However you choose to bring the concept of Fjaka into your world, remember that the whole point is just to accept everything as it is. Accept that sometimes, there is nothing more important or pressing for you to do that to just be. And also accept that when your period of Fjaka comes to an end – whether that’s 3 hours or 20 minutes – that’s ok. There are no real rules. Just go with it.