I have to confess that my default position is one of dynamic doing. I like to be busy doing things and I often exhaust my family, who watch me in a whirl of frenzied activity trying to get as much done as possible each day. I pride myself on being able to multi-task and I frequently try to more than one thing at a time, like writing this blog, whilst listening to an audio webinar and also planning what I need to get from the supermarket.
Now whilst this seems very efficient I can often find myself very frustrated at the end of the day with no real sense of accomplishment. As I have been “busy” rushing from one thing to another my mind has felt flustered and befuddled trying to work out what to do next. Flitting from one subject and action to another, my brain simply can’t focus and I end up wasting a large amount of time being distracted. So life begins to resemble ground hog day – endless lists of things to do, which I busy myself doing then lo and behold it starts all again the next day – more never ending lists of things to do and lots more busyness. It’s mentally draining and frankly boring!
So in an effort to break this repeating cycle and end each day with more satisfaction and inner calm I have been looking at how I can do things differently to get more done in less time and spend more time doing things that are important to me.
Being Rather Than Doing
Seeing how much of a human “doing” I am programmed to be I decided to try a different tack and explore how it would feel being more of a human “being”.
“Being” rather than “doing” requires a whole different way of thinking. For a start it requires a lot more mental stillness and mental discipline. When you are being rather than doing there is the sense of time slowing down as you bring your mental focus to what needs to be done now. Being present and focused on solely the action to do now, helps to quieten the mind and actually results in the action being completed more efficiently and effectively. Distractions are kept at bay and the whole experience of getting the task done is less exhausting.
For someone whose brain likes to rule the roost and charge full tilt from thing to the next thing, this has been a mighty challenge. To help me with the process of change I have looked for times in my life when I experience being rather than doing.
Being in the “Zone”
For me I often experience this sense of being when I am exercising. Through exercise I become present to what is going on in the moment. I can feel my breath in my lungs, I can feel the weather on my skin, I can feel the muscles in my legs. I am in touch with my environment. I notice the details of the road or path in front of me, the changes in the slope steepness or snow conditions, the feel of the water on my body, the sound of the ball on my racket. All these details show up when I focus my mind on being present in the moment.
Often when people experience this it is called being in the “flow” or zone. We can also feel this at other times when we are fully engrossed in something we are doing, e.g. listening to music, making something, singing, driving, doing any hobby you are passionate about.
Being present doesn’t exclude doing something at the same time. It just means being present to what you are doing in the moment. It is about raising your awareness so that you are conscious of what you are doing and not getting distracted by thoughts in your head about other things not to do with what you are doing NOW. It is often called being mindful.
Undertaking tasks with this level of mindfulness and intention takes some effort at first to still the mind. However I have found that when I can come from a place of “being” in my activities, things just seem easier. The tasks get done without all the head chatter and I finish them in far less time – thus in effect creating more time – to do non urgent things that I want to do.
Being mindful has many benefits. Aside from the sense that there is more time, I find that the sense of focus that it required to be mindful helps me to feel calmer. The endless thoughts that spin through my head seem to slow and I have far more ability to simply observe them for what they are – just thoughts. And I have the choice NOT to jump on the negative thought train hurtling down the track to who knows where….
So being mindful at least for a small part of each day can bring a sense of peace. Being mindful will not stop your thoughts – they are going to keep coming whether you want them or not. However being mindful will help you to become more of an observer of your thoughts. Once you can observe your thoughts for what they are, then the balance of power will shift and you can gain more control over how you respond to your thoughts. This is a great thing as this leads to a wonderful sense of really having choice and being in control – and who doesn’t want to feel more that they have more choice and control in their life.
Ten Tips to being more Mindful
In my practice to experience more “being” rather than “doing” these are some of the things that I do to help me be more mindful:
1) Daily meditation – just five minutes of quiet contemplation makes a difference
2) Be grateful everyday – for what I have rather than what I don’t have
3) Be really present at least once each day
4) Connect with people
5) Take time to appreciate the beauty around me
6) Breathe deeply and smile
7) Let go of the past – it is gone and can’t be changed
8) Practice observing my thoughts and emotions
9) Accept that all is ok now
10) Enjoy the journey
You might like to try some of them yourself and see if becoming more mindful helps to move you from being less of a human “doing” to more of a human “being”.
Let me know your thoughts or experience of being practising being more mindful.