We live in a culture that worships doing.
The more you do, the more busy you are, the more “successful” you must be.
It’s exemplified by the question we’re asked from an early age; “What do you want to be?” Not “Who do you want to be?” or “How do you want to be?”
This is key, because we ARE before we DO. Being is primary.
We’ve kind of forgotten that and it’s led to a whole lotta shit.
Being and Doing
BEing is a state; who you are, what is there when there is no (active) DOing. It’s the subtle vibration that is this living being (that’s you) in the silence, in the absence of doing. Being is the space between two breaths. It is the moment you wake up, before mental activity kicks in. It is the embodied aliveness of existing, in the absence of effort.
BEing is, in my opinion, horribly and worryingly underrated.
Worryingly because when we DO from a place that is not rooted in BEing – that is disconnected from what we are without the influence of our thoughts, disconnected therefore from our deepest, core selves – there is a giant margin of potential error.
Those moments when something just doesn’t feel right but we’re not sure why? Doing without Being. When we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing and we’re supposed to be enjoying it but we feel like we’re being slowly suffocated by Salvador Dali’s worst nightmare? Doing without being. When we’re exhausted and don’t know why? Doing. Without being.
And the worst part is that often we look at all this Doing that’s not feeling right, and figure it must be something about the doing that needs to change; that we just need to reshuffle, reorganise, create a new action plan, a new schedule, a new set of goals, and we’ll be all set.
To change the external circumstances in other words. The Doing.
This strategy might work for a short time by distracting us, but it doesn’t deal with the underlying issue, which is most likely that what you’re doing and your being (as in who you really are) are not lining up, and that causes MAD tension.
Because – as we all know (right? contact me if this isn’t clear) – circumstances do not define inner experience.
The real goal
The “real goal” (aka, the one that will actually enliven your life and bring you wild crazy joy), is to find your sweet spot of Being.
➳ How do you want to feel on this crazy ride known as Life?
➳ What mental and emotional states do you want to spend your days in?
➳ What impact do you want your Being to have on other people? On your children? On the world?
The goal is to get clarity on the “Who” and “How” you want to be, and then explore, experiment and experience activities, pursuits and lifestyle choices that facilitate those things.
A guiding question once those “state goals” or “being goals” are clear is:
“How can I deeply honour myself?”
In every moment.
Because knowing what we want and need is one thing. Aligning our actions and lives with that knowledge is what will change everything.
Doing arising from Being
Because Being is primary to Doing (we are energy before we are matter, as is everything we create), it follows that if our Doing arises from Being, it will be in alignment with ourselves. With our values. With our soul. With the reason we are here.
Doing then becomes an unfolding process of being, listening, and then taking action.
This process – unlike what most of the western world assumes is the “correct” order of business – requires letting go. Trust. Courage. Stepping into who we truly are and acting, creating and making our mark on the world from a place of surrender, rather than a place of (perceived) control.
And this is so important because control is life-negating.
Control is death.
Life is not controllable, boxable, definable.
Life is flow, unfolding, emerging.
Especially for women.
Masculine energy thrives on directionality, clarity, straight lines. And yet within that there is still space for flow, although it usually looks abrupt when things shift.
But for us ladies the Doing-focus is particularly toxic. Our energy is expansive, flowing, creative and more easily stifled by excessive Doing. Our mission is to find out what balance of Doing and Being works for us, and even within the Being state to hold the eternal question in every moment: “Where next?”
Moving into more Being
Meditation (unsurprisingly) helps us to spend more time in a Being state. it doesn’t need to be thoughtless awareness, but simply shifting our attention to our inner reality; how does my body feel? What emotions are present? What does my energy feel like today? What do I feel like I need?
Another great one is nature – and keeping our attention devoted to taking in every detail; the sounds, the smells, the intricacy of every tiny detail.
In everyday life a very helpful practice is to begin inserting “Mindfulness Buffers” into the day. I have a desktop timer on my mac, and one for my pc that go off every hour, at which point I do a little inner dive to check out what my state is like.
I’ll usually close my eyes, have my feet planted firmly on the floor and my knees shoulder-width apart, take a long slow breath, and then sink into myself, with an open and curious attitude, and listen.
That’s it. Just listening for anything that might want to be noticed.
I might notice that I need some water. Maybe I want to stretch my legs. Perhaps something flashes into my mind that has emotion attached to it that wants some space (i.e., some of my precious attention).
It’s not difficult. It’s not complicated.
But spending more time connected to ourselves, or as meditators would say, “present,” allows us to cultivate greater sensitivity about what serves us and what doesn’t. From this place of greater awareness we are empowered to make choices that truly align with our deepest needs and desires.
In fact, being “present” is being able to simultaneously be deeply connected to ourselves and connected with the external world (what’s happening, or wherever we choose to place our focus). Most of us however spend a lot of time being overwhelmed by the external world’s demands and lose the connection to ourselves in our efforts to keep up with those demands.
Another amazing Being practice is unstructured play. Goddam, if all adults had an hour of unstructured play every day we’d be living in a radically different world.
It can be dancing. Walking. Playing with a kid or an animal or a leaf. Creating something simply for the pleasure of creating it (and it’s fine if it gets knocked down afterwards).
The only rule is: it has to be purposeless.
In other words, kicking a ball around counts; playing a football game doesn’t. Making random art because the colours are fascinating to you and you want to draw with your fingers counts; trying to create a piece of art doesn’t. Notice where you turn something fun into a “should” or a “project.” Unstructured play is about climbing out of the box, exploring all around it and then wandering off and forgetting about the box for a while.
Being time is about Being and Doing for the sake of BEing.
It’s a practice but it’s one that will shift the gears of your life from striving and control to ease and flow.
And when that becomes the norm – everything changes.
➳ Stay tuned for the Guide I’m creating on how to live in flow – I’ll be sending it out to all subscribers as soon as it’s ready!