Leisure. What a great word! Say it out loud: leeeee-zhooor. It sounds just like what it describes, doesn’t it? Ease, relaxation, rest. It invokes a feeling of openness and freedom. Lovely!

The opposite of leisure is exertion, labor, or work. That’s what people in Western culture spend pretty much every waking hour doing—achieving, caffeinating, multi-tasking, cramming in as much as possible every day. Stopping those activities is a good start, but that doesn’t automatically create leisure. The mind often remains in busy distraction mode.
In today’s pressurized culture, it takes time and intention to let go of the urge to keep doing. Last week I gave myself a 24-hour retreat at home. I didn’t talk to anyone, drive my car, look at screens, or address paper piles. I gave myself an entire day of unscheduled quiet time. I sat near a bird searching for seeds in the grass. The song of the wind in the leaves rustled my heart. I traveled with the shade of a cloud as it slid slowly through the forest. Gradually, I released my inner push and allowed empty space. 

Empty space is the environment where our mind relaxes and experiences universal context. It frees us. As Deng Ming-Dao says: “Life’s pulse is gauged in the hollows, the intervals between events. If you want to see Tao, you must discern these spaces. This requires leisure, the chance to sit and contemplate, and the opportunity to respond to inner urging….there is the possibility of knowing the deep and the profound.”

Let’s be mindful of our activities and regularly choose leisurely space. Then we can return to our lives refreshed, with a new heart.