Being is the New Doing

Yoga West

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck on a never-ending hamster wheel, spinning around and around but going nowhere? I find it easy to get caught up in the endless cycle of doing and accomplishing – ticking things off my to-do list, feeling like I could be successful if I just made it through the list.

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But the list never ends. And more and more, I’m discovering that what feels good for me is being, instead of doing.

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My list is still there … I still enjoy setting goals and accomplishing “things”. I like the feeling of moving forward – it can be very addictive. But as I take time to practice yoga and meditation, and as those ways of living permeate into the rest of my life, what has become sacred to me is the time I take for being – it is where I find the most joy.

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I walked along a beach recently and let myself linger… warm sand, icy waves, bright sun. And I felt joy and love , in a way that I never feel from completing tasks. Not just from being on the beach – city walks, when taken with the same sense of awareness and appreciation, bring equal joy. It’s the sense of presence and feeling that get me there.

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So I’m taking more time for being – shortening my to-do list, aiming to sift through all the possible and potential things and focus on a just a few important ones; incorporating even just a couple short moments of being into my day. The result? More joy … more peace… more love.

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Photo by Ali Schilling Photography

The Busy-ness Affliction

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I used to get short of breath, rushing from one thing to the next and trying to make use of every possible minute in the day. When people asked me how I’d been, I would say, “good, but busy … really, really busy”.

And I started to realise that the more I used the word “busy” to describe my state of being, the more “busy” I felt; it didn’t feel good, and it didn’t feel spacious- it feel suffocating, limiting and closed.

As a culture, the busy-ness affliction is rampant – being busy is viewed almost as a status symbol -if we’re not busy, we must be lazy or stupid or failing somehow; we don’t have enough friends/opportunities/demand for our skill to fill our schedules to exhaustion. Being busy allows us to feel like we’re moving forward, going somewhere, achieving success. But where does it actually get us?

Reading two books made me re-evaluate how I was perceiving and actually spending my time; The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte and Essentialism by Greg McKeown. The Desire Map encouraged me to look at how I wanted to feel, and Essentialism encouraged me to do less but better – to focus on a couple of things that really make a difference, rather than trying to be and do it all.

Being busy wasn’t how I wanted to feel, and it wasn’t  helping me do less or do it better. I wasn’t getting anywhere except tired.

So I attempted to stop using the word busy, as a start.

And a few interesting things happened. I suddenly had the perception of more free time. I felt more in control of my schedule. And I stopped scheduling so many things back to back, because that seemed … too busy.

Life felt more spacious, more purposeful, and I felt more at ease. It was easier to say no to invitations or opportunities that didn’t serve me because I knew what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to feel. And I actually started feel that way – spacious, effective, and rested.

From time to time, the B word still pops up, but busy-ness as an affliction is less. And I feel more free, more focused … more me.

The Beginning

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Starting is often the hardest part. Starting means choosing – which direction, which path to take … needing to know where you’re going to be able to take that first step.

Through the practice of yoga, and the process of self-enquiry,  I am slowly learning that where I am right now is exactly where I’m meant to be; it doesn’t matter if I don’t know what comes next. Sitting with the unknown and starting to become comfortable with it is where I find growth within.

So this is a beginning; this is where I start. I don’t know where I’m going or where I will end up. But I am here now, and I’m taking the first step. Where it ends is what I am yet to know …

Photo: Paula Sanderson Photography (@paula_sanderson)