Most of the time during a fast-paced or intense day–sometimes from the moment we wake up until we lay our head on our pillow at night–we are in “doing-mode”. As we make plans on the one hand, we get going with things we already planned on the other. We start a new task before even finishing the first; we go through the day without taking any breaks; in motion and locked on our target. In times like this, our energy is focussed on our heads; in our minds. Many thoughts pass through our minds; most of these are about what we have done in the past or what we should do in the future. The more our days are spent in this “doing-mode” and the busy mind that comes with it, the more worried we get. Our body releases a stress hormone called cortisol, which carries feelings of fatigue and burnout with it. Sometimes, our body may even ache and we may get ill.
Does this mode sound familiar to you? How often do you spend your days like this? When does it increase? Can you notice that you are entering “doing-mode” by observing your body? Doing mode can be expressed in our bodies in a number of ways: our breath gets short and catchy; we may even hold our breath. We wear a frown; we tighten our jaw. Our shoulders are placed close to our ears, lifted and curved forward. In a similar way, our posture leans forward as if ready to take action at any moment. In general, we tighten or contract our entire body. How does your body experience “doing-mode”?
When doing mode is no longer to your benefit, can you notice the signs in your body and switch to an alternate mode?
That alternative is “being-mode”. If you feel increasingly worried due to spending too long in “doing-mode”, you can calm yourself by occasionally switching to “being-mode” during the day. Without making an effort to do anything, just stay in the moment and be present. In this mode, our body is in the opposite state of “doing-mode”. Our face and body muscles relax. Our shoulders drop, and roll back. We even lean back. We release our body. How do you experience this mode in your body?
If you were to imagine yourself as a tree, you can think of your mind and thoughts as the leaves of the tree. If you constantly stay in “doing-mode” it is as if you are focussing on the leaves; you lose touch with the branches that hold them, with the stem and the roots– in other words your body. The rest of the tree finds it hard to carry its leaves; it grows weak, and after some time, all that remains are the leaves, flying away all by themselves.
When you feel like you need to switch from “doing-mode” to “being-mode” to help you relax, you can shift your attention from top to bottom; from your mind to your body; from your thoughts to your emotions and feelings. For instance, you can imagine yourself as a tree with a strong trunk; rooting you to the ground. Picture all the loads and worries you carry and accumulate in your mind; imagine moving them from the leaves to the branches, from the branches to the trunk, from the trunk to the roots and finally dropping them to the ground. Imagine sending all of them to the centre of the world with the help of gravity. As you are doing this, imagine your whole body relaxing and becoming lighter.
One other method for switching to “being-mode” and connecting with your body is to focus on your present moment, place and breath by using your five senses. For instance, take a break from work and touch your seat. What texture does it have? How does it feel as you move your fingers along on it? Focus only on this feeling. Move all your energy from your mind to your hands. Take a deep breath and exhale. Doing this even for a few seconds when you are in “doing-mode” and feel stressed will help you to relax.