Interest in Mindfulness and other types of meditation has grown significantly, and for good reason. With so many people entering into meditation practices, one of the common struggles is balancing being and doing. People notice that if you quiet your mind and don’t do anything, you can quickly begin to experience a sense of blissfulness, or at least contentment. If you stay in this line of thought it leads to diminishing the real value of a meditation practice. A meditation practice was meant to create some distance between the real you and the biological computer in your brain that constantly generates thoughts that disturb you. The end game is to be able to quiet your mind, and observe your thoughts without immediately reacting, and adding more thoughts to them.
Have you ever had one of those days, where it felt like you were really busy all day, but you didn’t feel like you got much done? Better yet, you can’t recall what all you got done. Usually that sense of busyness is as much a result of the busyness in your mind as it is the actual doing of whatever you were doing. A meditation practice will help you to stay in the moment even when you have a lot to do. You get a sense of calm in the storm, and won’t tend to overreact the events that happen that would have upset you before. If you work with your mind fully in the present, you can learn to be while you do. One of my favorite meditation practices is making the bed in the morning. I purposely start the day by quieting my mind and focusing only on making my bed without any other thoughts present.
There is an idea from Buddhism that often gets brought into meditation practices. I am paraphrasing from one of the four noble truths, but it basically says that the root of suffering is desire. People then quit desiring. This is a complete misunderstanding of this noble truth. Jesus taught something similar in the bible, when he instructs us not to chase after wealth as the heathen do. This was also widely misunderstood. You are always going to have desires, and you will always have things happen in life you don’t like. A meditation practice will help you to examine your motives and thoughts so you can make decisions and act based on your values, not in reaction to autonomous thoughts.
A long time ago success guru Tony Robbins put it this way. Again I am paraphrasing, but he said, “if you sit around all day and bliss out, they will eventually come and take your furniture.” True enough, and they will eventually throw you out of your home as well. As you go into your week, work on noticing your arising thoughts and practice not automatically adding more thoughts to them. Just observe your thoughts and don’t react. This is “being”, it has little to do with whether you proceed in “doing” a lot or a little. That choice is truly yours if you can learn to be, even when you are doing.