In today’s world we are all so focused on doing things, ticking off the boxes on our ever so long to-do-lists, but rarely do we stop to just BE. How about a ‘to be’ list? How you are and who you are is often more important than what you do or how you do it, because being is a pre-requisite of doing. For example, if you are grounded, calm and present, you will DO things in a more productive way than if you are scattered, stressed or overwhelmed. If you tend to put things off, or procrastinate, what state of being are you in and what are the motives for your procrastination?
Let’s look deeper into multi-tasking and procrastination. Though they may seem at the opposite end of the ‘doing” spectrum, some of the ‘being’ states underneath are quite similar. What is the little (or not so little) voice in your head telling you? “Hurry up, get it done, why are you forgetting this, oh no! not again! Why am I leaving this again till the last moment? Or is it:” I cannot believe it’s midnight and I haven’t finished the 3 things I planned to do before bed!” More often than not, we are not even aware of that voice, but it is always there, and it is guiding us, sometimes in a trance-like state. These are the ‘saboteur’ voices that we all have and experience, the question though is: Are we aware of them?
If you are ruled by the Achiever voice, you may be running yourself to the ground, and pursuing all those tasks like your life depended on it – when is the time to let go and just relax, just BE? How many boxes will need to be ticked before you can slump onto that sofa?
If you are governed by the Avoider voice, you will be procrastinating. You may be putting things off because inwardly you worry that you will not be successful, or you may even worry that you will be! You are trapped in the status quo and inaction, because it is safe, because if you do take that action, focus on completing that task or perhaps take a risk to do something new, you will face the unknown and change – by not moving in any direction, you are ‘safe’. More often than not, we have multiple saboteurs running the show from behind the scenes, though usually not at the same time (chuckle).
Essentially, it also comes down to our relationship with time. Do you tend to believe that you do not have enough hours in the day, or perhaps that you can always do it tomorrow? Our understanding of time is completely subjective, and we can change it and remake it, though the process could be trying and demanding. According to Eckhart Tolle: “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: The Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
We have all become masters of avoiding the present moment, whether it is Netflix, Facebook or just aimlessly browsing the Internet…We spend time fantasizing about the future (dreaming about our next holiday or worrying about a potential disaster scenario that we have made up in our minds), or perhaps we are trapped in the past, revisiting old grievances and resentment, or even reminiscing about days bygone that will never come back…But are we ever in the present moment, in the so elusive NOW?
Dr Gabor Mate defines trauma as the inability to be in the present moment. Indeed, taken to the extreme, dwelling in the past and not letting it go results in depression, whereas constantly worrying about the future is actually what anxiety is. While we may not be at the extreme of this spectrum, we have all at some point experienced these states to a certain degree, and they all have to do with our being, first and foremost, and then our doing – or not doing- is driven by it.
Going back to our perception of time and the resulting behaviour we may find ourselves juggling many tasks and activities at once, ending up exhausted and not as productive as we had hoped. Or we can find ourselves putting things off, getting distracted and allowing “time to just slip through a crack…” and before we know it, we are beating ourselves up for not doing that task that we have been putting off for ever…
Alas, so what to do? Or rather, I’d say, ‘What to be?’ Being in the present moment is the key and training our brain and the entire nervous system to be at peace with the present moment will take time. Whether you are predominantly Avoider or Achiever, or even Restless, grounding yourself in the present moment will allow you to just be and to start experiencing that elusive peace of mind. As you have guessed, meditation in its many guises and forms is a very good start. Whether you want to use an app or enrol into a Mindfulness course, learn Transcendental Meditation (TM) or choose any other way, you will reap the benefits. Not only will you allow yourself to BE, you will gradually become empowered to choose how you want to BE and therefore carry that quality of being into everything you do.
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The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
https://uk.tm.org//london-victoria for Transcedental meditation classes
Apps: Headspace, Think up, Buddhify, Calm, 10% Happier, Mood notes, One Mind Dharma
Plum Village Mindfulness Retreats https://plumvillage.org/retreats/when-can-you-visit-us/