Being in the Midst of Doing: 5 Ways to Bring Your Practice into Your Life

When I hear the phrase “being versus doing,” I think of two things that are diametrically opposed. Way too often, I get lost in my world of “doing” and lose my sense of “being-ness.” I feel out of kilter, off balance, like I can’t stop and settle. My body is constantly moving—and even more troubling, so is my mind. And, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

In one of my MBSR classes, I read two lists of words. The first has the frenetic energy of “doing”: fixing, striving, judging, forcing, and figuring out. Then I read a list of words that signify “being”: observing, non-judging, curiosity, beginner’s mind, spaciousness, and letting be. Many students can feel the difference in their bodies when I read each of these lists; one engenders tension and anxious thoughts, and the other creates ease and a sense of relaxation.

But can we bring the two together? Can we find that sense of ease and peace in the midst of our busy lives?

What does it feel like to “be?” Often, it is described as feeling poised, open, relaxed, and attentive; there’s a sense of enjoyment, fulfillment, and alignment with something deep within us.

I would like to suggest that we can be fully engaged in “doing” and still access the aliveness and the peace of “being,” simply by engaging in the present moment fully, no matter what we are “doing.”

So why don’t we do it? Mostly, it is just that we forget! As Sharon Salzberg says, “Mindfulness is easy, it’s remembering to be mindful that is difficult.”

Here are my 5 suggestions for bringing more “Being” into your “Doing”:

1. When you drink your first cup of coffee tomorrow morning: Sit down and feel the warmth of the cup in your hand. Smell the aroma wafting toward your nose with the steam. Maybe even swirl it around like a good glass of wine. Then take that first sip, and really taste it.

2. When you get in your car:
Stop for a moment before you start the car. Feel the comfort of the seat cushion. Then, as you start the engine, really listen to the sound and feel your hands on the wheel. As you pull out of the driveway, look around and see the beauty that surrounds you.

3. After you park your car: Take your time getting out of the car and affirm your intention to actually walk and know that you are walking. Feel your feet on the ground, and feel your weight shift as you take your first step. Really notice your surroundings: the snow (or lack of snow) on the ground, the color of the trees or concrete, the sounds, and the smells you encounter as you walk toward destination.

4. At lunch or dinner: 
Take the time to really notice the food in front of you. See the colors and textures, take time to smell the aromas, and really taste that first bite. Take a moment to appreciate all the many hands that helped to bring this food to your plate.

5. Finally, when you crawl into bed:
Feel the coolness of the sheets, the softness of the pillow, the delicious feeling of lying down to rest.

Through practice, we can learn to “do” and “be” at the same time. Actually, we can’t stop doing—even if our bodies are asleep or totally at rest, they are still digesting our food, or moving our blood around.

We can step into “being” at any moment when we are fully present in the here and now. Life then becomes a beautiful unfolding adventure.

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