Wu Wei – Doing Nothing 無爲
Updated: Jun 27
Wu Wei means – in Chinese – non-doing or ‘doing nothing’. It sounds like a pleasant invitation to relax or worse, fall into laziness or apathy. Yet this concept is key to the noblest kind of action according to the philosophy of Taoism – and is at the heart of what it means to follow Tao or The Way. According to the central text of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching:
"When nothing is done, nothing is left undone."
This is the paradox of Wu Wei. It doesn’t mean not acting, it means ‘effortless action’ or ‘actionless action’. It means being at peace while engaged in the most frenetic tasks so that one can carry out these tasks with maximum skill and efficiency. Something of the meaning of Wu Wei is captured when we talk of being ‘in the zone’ – at one with what we are doing, in a state of profound concentration and flow. Not being in the moment, rather, being the moment.
Wu Wei is closely connected to the Taoist reverence for the natural world, for it means striving to make our behavior as spontaneous and inevitable as certain natural processes, and to ensure that we are swimming with rather than against currents. We are to be like the bamboo that bends in the wind or the plant that adjusts itself to the shape of a tree. oWu Wei involves letting go of ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things; it invites us instead to respond to the true demands of situations, which tend only to be noticed when we put our own ego-driven plans aside. What can follow is a loss of self-consciousness, a new unity between the self and its environment, which releases an energy that is normally held back by an overly aggressive, wilfull style of thinking.
But none of this means we won’t be able to change or affect things if we strive for
The Tao Te Ching points out that we should be like water;
“Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.”
Through gentle persistence and a compliance with the specific shape of a problem, an obstacle can be worked round and gradually eroded.
This is the a healing philosophy practiced at Wu Wei Healing Arts. Healing is not "forced"
onto the body, there is no "one size fits all" approach to healing. Each client, each session, and each moment is unique, and constantly changing. By "being like water", energy flows without interference, going where it is needed, dissolving the hard and inflexible, allowing healing to happen on it's own.
"A healer is not someone you go to for healing, but someone who triggers your own ability to heal yourself."