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Wu Wei 无为– The Art of Letting Things Happen

Bye 2023! Hi, 2024.

It was a tough year 2023 but I have also achieved much by being here today. I woke up for the 365 days, I put something good into the world with my thoughts, words, doing, helping people, and making them feel something too.

I am just a human. I get happy sometimes, sometimes sad, angry, sick, grieving, fearful, needing help, alone, sometimes bold as a cow, soar like an eagle, and sometimes crawl like a worm. Reminding myself this is what it is to be alive and feeling. My emotions and feelings are all valid, and all good.

For me, this year has been a whirlwind, with so many hospital tests and visits – Mum and me. I know I have done what I could with what I had and my best. Perhaps I could have done some things differently but I also know I made decisions based on the information and resources I had at the time and my best capability.

I’ve also had the most wonderful experiences. The four workshops I conducted for 2023 have been a big highlight. The feedback result from participants of all four scored 95% and above. Many fantastic testimonies of how their lives were changed and transformed.

I’ve had so much delight from bringing people together to collage, talk about their thoughts, and put those feelings on paper—knowing that it’s both incredibly therapeutic and enjoyable.

Welcoming the year 2024, my motto for this year is WU WEI. Why did I choose “Wu Wei” as my motto?

The Taoist concept of Wu Wei:

– Non-doing or non-action

– Effortless action & non-striving – mindfulness practice

– How to do less and achieve more

– Doing without doing

Wu Wei denotes the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease and awareness, in which without even trying, we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.

There is no exact English translation of Wu Wei. The philosopher Alan Watts prefers the term ‘not forcing.’ He believed that this concept is essential for learning to lead a good life but very hard to comprehend for many. In our culture of action, doing nothing seems stupid. Who has ever earned a million dollars doing nothing?

According to Wu Wei, when we learn to slow down, wait, and observe, we are able to perceive external forces more clearly and make better decisions. When we act quickly, every action is a mistake, and our emotions and ego are more powerful than reason.

A good swimmer can enter a state of body awareness in which the right stroke happens as if by itself, effortlessly, without interference with the conscious will or resistance from the water. When in perfect harmony, “in the zone,” with the Tao, you vanish into the deed, moving with the Tao as if effortlessly, overcoming and transforming.

Most New Year’s resolutions are aimed at taking action. Whether the goal is losing weight, finding love, or getting a new job. You know when you strive so much to achieve something. When you give it all you have. When you push until your last atom. But no. You’re still not there. So why ‘you’re trying too hard’?

My main priority for 2024 is learning to apply the concept of Wu Wei—strategic non-action will guide me to do just that.

Why is it important for me to practice Wu Wei? Is to have peace with myself not war against myself, no more internal conflict. If I am really feeling tired, the most important thing is to have a good rest. Not to see if anyone is more tired than myself. The so-called internal conflict is to comfort myself while feeling pain. Never waste any unnecessary energy.

When it comes to daily work and life, non-action means constantly subtracting from myself, not wanting too much, not acting rashly, doing as little as possible or simply not doing those meaningless things that waste my life, my energy or not making futile resistance in times of adversity.

An ancient Chinese tale. Once upon a time, a man fell into a river. The river was ending into a large waterfall at some distance. The people who saw this mishap were sure that the man would not survive. But after some time, that man came back alive to their surprise. There was not even a scratch on his body. People asked him, ‘How did you survive?’. He smiled and said, ‘I survived because I surrendered myself to the river. Rather than swimming against the flow, I let myself go with the flow. The flow of the river pushed me to a safe place on its own.’

I learned that like all creatures, I have a finite amount of energy. By not acting, I conserve energy so that I can expend it when the moment is right. So Wu Wei isn’t about resignation or laziness. It’s about self-preservation, an important very skill.

As 2024 begins, I’m sitting still: attentive and ready!