As human beings, we all expect our lives to flow smoothly so that we can enjoy being alive. We also believe that for life to flow smoothly, we need to accomplish a lot in order to deserve that happiness. Our mind is like the remote control of our lives; it often believes that life is similar to the light at the end of the tunnel. And the tunnel itself is the route we need to pass through by getting things done, accomplishing tasks, and achieving goals in life. Only after passing through this “tunnel” can we start living and enjoying the light. Yet in our hearts, we’re aware that life is about being. That’s why most of the time we’re not satisfied with the things we do and we can’t wait to reach the end of the tunnel where we can just “be” instead of “doing” more.
Just imagine your daily life. What basic phrases do you use, no matter what your plans are for the day?
“I need to do / to go…”
“I want to do / to go / to buy / to have a look…”
“I can’t because I have to do / to be …”
Do these phrases sound as familiar to you as they do to me?
In today’s world, from childhood onwards, most of us are absorbed with what we “need to do” “in order to be.
But what about…
Remember the question you were asked most often as a child:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And remember what kids often say in response to this question:
“I want to be a doctor, engineer, teacher, or astronaut…”
But why ask a 5-year old children what profession they would like to have at age 25?
Why, at such a young age, are we already training children to focus on future goals and plans rather than letting them enjoy the present moment?
Why make them feel as though they are no one right now, but they will be someone when they have a profession?
Why push these societal expectations on children?
Why are we only satisfied when children say they want to have a prestigious job?
Why can’t the kids just reply that they are “being happy” and “having fun”?
Focusing on the future and bringing our attention to “doing” instead of “being” is a thing we learn when we are a kid, and it becomes a habit as adults. Living in an action-oriented way instead of a feeling-oriented way becomes an automatic reaction for us over time. But at the end of the day, we mostly overlook that connection between actions and feelings, and we live day-to-day, without considering how we feel or whether we’re really living the way we want.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is known as a master of mindfulness, summarises this tendency towards “doing” rather than “being” as becoming a “human doing” instead of a “human being.” As he explains in his book “Mindfulness for Beginners,” nowadays we too used to accomplishing our to-do lists, which are all based on the expectations we place on ourselves.
The “being state,” on the other hand, is the experience of the moment as it is. To be in an experience and to be in the now, is to be with your full presence, the presence of your body and mind and heart.
In a “being state,” you see how your body is positioned in that moment and what your body language says to you. You see what’s going on inside and outside yourself in that exact moment. You are aware of the sounds and smells around you. You see all the colours around you and feel the heat of your hands. And you notice the effect of outside distractions on your mental state. You let it all happen without interfering, by simply inhaling and exhaling.
Your mind is simply in the here and now, not digging up the past or planning the future. You just observe and let judgements and thoughts come and go, without following or dismissing them.
You know how you feel in that exact moment by understanding your emotions within the experience.
You let all this happen, without controlling, changing, analysing, judging or trying to discover a certain meaning. You just look at what is happening right now, not why something is happening right now. You understand what is going on with acceptance, with an open heart full of compassion. You just accept all as it is!
As an adult, I lived in a “doing state” until I was 25, when I realised that something was missing — that I was stuck in a life that I didn’t belong in.
During this period, I reminded myself that all the turning points in my life were a result of me following my passions and desires no matter what.
And that reminded me of the presence of my inner self, which was still there, but hard to reach due to my busy schedule and how action-oriented I was. Back then, checking off the things on my to-do list made me satisfied, but I was hopelessly waiting for the day when my to-do list would be empty and I could finally start living. But that day never came!
My spiritual journey started with a reiki practice. I tried out many new things that all contributed to me becoming my real self. I became a yoga teacher in addition to becoming a life-long yoga student. When I encountered Mindfulness & Meditation and could integrate it into my life, everything started to shift. In the journey to becoming a Mindfulness Meditation Coach, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to guide people through a journey that I hadn’t made myself. As I developed the habit of living more mindfully and having a regular meditation practice, over time I realised that it was becoming much easier to reclaim the present moment and be in the here and now with all my presence — even during the tough experiences.
Staying still and letting everything just happen, letting things come and go, opened a gate to my inner self. Connecting and communicating with my inner child and freeing her from the to-do lists let me enjoy my time and my weekends. Life became much easier but the best feeling was that I was actually started to feel alive.
Since my childhood, I had always been so independent and rebellious towards people who tried to shape me in any way. It was enlightening to realise that one of the strongest barriers in my life was my being very rebellious against expectations of others, but pushing myself hard to achieve my own expectations at the same time. That was the thing that made my life harder. On one hand, yes I was totally free when I was growing up, but I had myself in front of me, telling me what to do.
Freeing up my inner self from my mind and the rules I made for myself was a great moment of awareness for me.
By the way, living in the “being state” does not mean “don’t do anything anymore and let everything just come and go.” “Doing” is just as valuable as “being.” Accomplishing your responsibilities, engaging in projects that you love, earning a living in the profession you love, going after your dreams and passions… these are all needed in order to have a balanced life. The important thing is to let your “being state” guide your “doing state.” That is when the things you do satisfy your inner self, that is when you realise yourself!
When it comes to practice, here are some key questions you can ask yourself on a daily basis.
Once you start to look inside, not with the aim of changing or controlling anything but just understanding with compassion, things start to change. It’s only when you are aware that you can make a different choice.
Be as kind to yourself as you would to a child!
Understand yourself, as you would understand your best friend without judgment!
And let everything come and go..
As the sky lets the sun and the clouds go, let go…