I recently went on personal retreat for a few days. My time away from daily life was prompted by a strong sense that I was living out of sync with the natural rhythms of my life. For some time I had been pushing hard to attain goals and achieve them in a tight time frame. I was forceful and controlling, and becoming punitive with myself when I wasn’t succeeding as quickly as I thought I should. This vicious pattern left me feeling drained, trapped, and stressed.
During retreat, I dreamed I was holding a bag with two cats inside, wildly fighting with each other. I could barely hold onto the bag, and the noise was deafening. Upon waking, I realised that this scene perfectly depicted my inner world: the fighting cats were me.
Reflecting further on this, a theme began to emerge, that of the tension held between Being and Doing. On the one hand I recognise the benefit of being more present and aware in life, of living and savouring more in the moment; of Being. On the other hand, I’m concerned I won’t be able to get everything done, and I want to get organised and plan for the future; my Doing aspect. It’s apparent these two things require balance in life. And this seemed to be why I went on retreat, to address the imbalance between the two within me.
I recognise Being as a state of mind, one in which I am centred, present, and aware. It’s living more from a place of the heart. In Being, I feel like I’m in the flow of life, back in sync and aligned with it. Not fighting it like a crazed cat.
I’m beginning to understand that Doing flows quite naturally out of Being. When someone is in a centred, aligned state of mind, the Doing and all the action is inspired by, and arises out of this mindset. People are more productive, and a lot less stressed when this occurs. There doesn’t have to be an adversarial relationship between Being and Doing. The relationship can be a complementary one, more of a dance than a fight. For me, the trick seems to be to remember to cultivate Being. Slip into that state of mind, and the rest will follow.
Of course it’s getting into the Being state – and holding onto it – that’s the challenge.
Mindfulness, meditation, and prayer practices can help cultivate it, but they aren’t the only ways. Expression of creativity encourages this link. Counselling, coaching, and psychotherapy can also be beneficial in helping explore inner states of being. Exercise, cooking, connecting with nature, playing, and simply just ‘checking in’ with yourself often throughout the day can also become doorways to Being.
Many of us live very busy, highly scheduled, demanding, and stressful lives. It may be worth asking yourself how do you get centred? How often does it happen throughout the day? When are the times that you feel in touch and connected with yourself and with life?