Slowing down to rest mind and body is an essential element in boosting mental and physical health. Here’s why doing nothing is so beneficial.


the art of loafing

Have you ever noticed how some of your most creative ideas arrive unbidden while you’re on vacation? As you stroll along a beach with your children or kayak the shoreline of a pristine lake, that problem you’ve been struggling with at work suddenly comes into sharp focus and you have the solution.

Such is the power of doing nothing. Well, not nothing, really. Such is the power of stepping off the hamster wheel of life to simply be. To breathe. To look around and truly see what is there. Of course, you needn’t book an expensive vacation to have this transformative experience. You can have it anytime, anywhere.

I call it loafing. Unfortunately, “loafing” is a freighted word that implies laziness. It shouldn’t though. There has never been a greater need for restorative loafing than there is now . . . in this 24/7 world, where we’re expected to be “on” all the time.

Just as the fine art of loafing is not laziness, it also should not be equated with apathy. Expert loafers are never apathetic. In fact, those who have elevated loafing to a high art (and you all know who you are) practice mindfulness. They may not know that they’re mindful, but mindful they are.

For instance, the expert loafer may stop while strolling to—literally—smell the roses, whether they’re planted in a neighbour’s garden or in a public park. (Planting and cultivating one’s own roses takes work.) Expert loafers revel in the sound of songbird choruses rather than regarding them as white noise. And they breathe deeply to appreciate the smell of ozone after a rainfall, of lilac wafting on a warm breeze, or of coffee imbibed at a sidewalk café. This, my friends, is loafing at its best and should never be regarded as goofing off or avoiding work.

You needn’t wait for your vacation to loaf. If you can carve a few hours out of your schedule each week, you, too, can be an expert loafer. A loafing artiste. And the West Island offers you many places and opportunities in which to loaf creatively.

Here are a few:

the Art of loafing
The Lake St. Louis shoreline in Pointe Claire offers opportunities for picnics, which combine loafing with food. What a great combo.
the Art of loafing
Ditto for the Ste. Anne de Bellevue boardwalk. Seen here: loafing over lunch.
the Art of loafing
Loafing in Centennial Park in Dollard des Ormeaux offers the opportunity to observe waterfowl and listen to birdsong. A win-win.
the Art of loafing
the Art of loafing
Loafing à deux is encouraged on the Dorval shoreline. This seating at Valois Bay Park can be enjoyed year ’round. And yes, some loafers enjoy outdoor loafing in all seasons.