‘‘Even when I’m watching TV, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do next, or running through a list of things that need doing. I’m not even sure that my mind stops doing when I’m asleep!’’
Does this description by a client sound at all like you?
Do you feel almost physically uncomfortable if you don’t have something to do, or to chew over?
Are you always looking ahead, thinking, ‘when I’ve finished this course/bought this house/lost weight, then I’ll be happy’.
Do you also see personal development as a task you have to cross off your list? ‘’What do I have to do to be less stressed?’’
The mind essentially has two gears- being and doing. There’s nothing wrong with ‘doing mode’. It’s what helps us to take actions and solve problems. However, if you are always in ‘doing mode’, it’s like trying to do your whole journey in second gear. Sometimes those gears are going to grind pretty badly. You also need to be able to cruise along effortlessly in higher gears- and that’s where ‘being mode’ comes in.
What exactly is ‘being mode’?
‘Being mode’ is when you accept exactly what you are thinking and feeling right now, and let go of the urge to do something about those thoughts and feelings or to change them.
It’s when you are aware of your surroundings, rather than rushing through them. Noticing the bird song, seeing the different shades of green.
It’s when you are focused on the present moment. You’re not thinking through all the things you could (should) have done differently, or all the wrong others have done you in the past, and you’re not worrying about and trying to plan for the future. You’re simply aware of what is happening both within you and around you, right now.
Some problems with ‘doing mode’
‘‘Being present is all very well, but I get bored very quickly.’’ If that’s the kind of thought coming to your mind, ask yourself whether it’s really boredom or if it might be a little bit of fear? While ‘doing mode’ can certainly help to get things done, if we are always in that mode, it may well be because we don’t want to be aware of what we’re feeling right now. But feelings don’t go away just because we ignore them. They just manifest themselves in other ways, such as headaches or chronic pain, insomnia, self-sabotage or a distance in our relationships.
The body also needs to have a balance between being and doing because doing all the time is exhausting, and being in that work-hard second gear all the time will literally burn out the gear box.
Benefits of ‘being mode’
Spending time in nature, meditating, or simply doing an activity such as gardening, crafting, cooking, where the mind is fully absorbed with the process will bring you into more balance. You’ll also often find that problems miraculously sort themselves out when you aren’t consciously worrying away at them. When I get stuck for an idea, I find taking a walk and switching off usually brings the idea popping effortlessly into my head.
On a physiological basis, you won’t be constantly flooding your system with stress hormones, and will be balancing them out with more soothing chemicals, such as oxytocin. This will lower blood pressure and improve sleep. On a more spiritual basis, you’ll learn to start finding joy in the present, rather than always hoping for happiness in the future. Life is short. Be here now.