Being Breath

stories from the wilderness of everyday life

Doing Vs. Being

ORIGINALLY POSTED: 1/15/2009

(Forgive me for my absence from this blog. My reflections have taken the form of homework for my yoga teacher training!)

We were recently assigned an article titled “Doing vs Being” for class. Very nice read but my mind is already there. Unfortunately, no amount of discussion, reading, logical conclusion, or even blogging will help me ultimately figure this out. It is only through experience, day-to-day, that I believe the true answer awaits my discovery. Fortunately, all the things I mentioned give different perspectives on and perhaps insights into the topic, so here I go!

First, with graduation only a week and a half away, I am once again awakening to the whirlpool that is life. What do I do now? It would be so easy just to go back to what was - just watching the kids day-to-day, longing after workshops that I can’t afford or for which I haven’t found child care, intellectually knowing the benefits of the life I studied but not living it. Not only would this be a waste of money spent on this teacher training but a disservice - a slap in the face - to me, and ultimately, my kids, my husband, my community. I know that I have gifts to share, I know that my uniqueness needs to radiate. Ignoring the progress I’ve made is falling back asleep. I refuse to do that.

Second, I find myself (when considering jobs, studios, solo teaching, etc) already moving again into the intellectual and fear-based decision making I have ALWAYS reverted to. This is not necessarily a “bad” thing, but particularly with this path, will not serve me well. I’m ready to start making a business plan, attempt marketing, designing a website. I’ve already started considering consequences - like students or colleagues reading this blog. (Being a teacher of course brings responsibilities. I’m 100% open and honest on this blog. I use language some would consider inappropriate, express things about myself, my views, and my parenting which could have consequences depending on the context in which the words are read.) And money? This is a whole other blog (being able to bring in an income vs being ok with Chris providing the income…too much of a tangent for this blog). Regardless, it feels energizing to think about all of these things but there is something obviously missing!! It is the same way I have approached everything else - going for the areas I know I’m already skilled, working on what is comfortable, getting excited about the start-up but not considering the follow-through. Doing everything I can but not being.

I had reflected last night (before even reading this article) and had a new set of insights on something that has been plaguing me for awhile. I’ve read a lot about setting priorities, knowing your values, living with integrity (values match your actions, even when no one is watching). Sounds peachy. I’m quite introspective and know my values, and even know that they change from time to time! What I realized is how much my intellectual self gets in the way of living an integrity-filled life, of actually experiencing those values. I am reeeaally good at logicaly justifying almost anything. (Thanks, dad.) Comes in handy in some situations, but in trying to live my yoga, an awakened life, one true to my values - it is quite an obstacle. Furthermore, I suck at discipline. I fight it, arguing that it creates binds, schedules, …

For example, I value community, health (physical and mental), wellness (spiritual and the unity of the 5 bodies), and family (not necessarily in that order and I don’t even want to think about something I may have forgotten right now). Thus, I need to discipline myself to maintain community (setting up dates with friends, etc); eating healthy foods and working out and reading; living my yoga; and being present with my family. I have many obstacles including clutter, ill health, fear, etc. My logical mind turns these obstacles not into challenges but reasons. “I can’t have people over tonight! The house is seriously a mess. I can’t get together with them! Where would we meet where the kids wouldn’t get too restless?” “I’m thin enough. These chips with dinner, this pizza, this diet coke…why not?” (Yeah, I can already hear the arguments back against these thoughts. But admit it - you have them too. And when these arguments appear in my head, at least, it is the most comfortable path that usually wins…my habituated path, my Samskara. I haven’t lost my values of community, health, wellness, family…they are just secondary.)

When I reach this obvious point of change (even though life truly changes every second) nearing graduation, Doing vs Being - doing more, less, the same, different OR being, becomes a crucial point of reflection. I could go out and find a list of jobs. I could create jobs for myself. I could worry about creating an income that I could live off of so I don’t have to have the argument in my head that I’m just riding on Chris’ coattails and don’t understand all that others have to deal with in this “doing vs being” conundrum. I could do so many things. But why? To what end? To succeed? To prove myself? To “become” more of who I am? To live a full life? No reason is better than another, really. But maintaining my integrity, the reason behind what I’m doing what I’m doing, the “being” behind the “doing”….ahhh, there is my challenge.

So I am trying to do things that remove or lessen obstacles and simultaneously choose to add those things to my life that discipline me to live with integrity. This involves so many continuing steps (continuously examining my values, doing what I can to rid clutter - through my house, through my body, through my mind -, choosing every single time whether the food I’m eating is healthy or an “acceptable indulgence”, practicing yoga on and off the mat instead of just knowing and promoting its benefits, practicing meditation instead of just knowing and promoting its benefits, determining whether it is my heart or my mind making the decision - or both - and how I feel about that, and on and on).

As I make choices about what to do now that I am a yoga teacher (how cool is that?!), I honor where I am and where everyone else is in this fluctuating examination of life. I want to consider and put into practice these deep ideals we’ve learned and make doing so no different from doing the dishes, cleaning up the toys (yet again), living cooped up in the house in sub-zero weather, disciplining and laughing with the kids, choosing expensive organic cotton versus regular, …
We all have our obstacles, our triumphs, our “situations” that put our decisions in a different light than that of our neighbor. We all suffer. We all have our “to-do’s” - be they taking care of kids, making enough money to cover the house payment, finding a way to make the relationship work (or get out of it), dealing with chronic health issues, cleaning the house, calling mom or a friend, … as well as our “to-be’s” - being more authentic, being more “successful”, being …well, just being.

As a yoga teacher (again, how cool is that?), a yoga practitioner, and just to honor my own values, I feel it important to live these questions every moment of life. I’ll still yell at the kids after hours of frustruation that I haven’t been able to have more than 5 minutes on my mat without getting kicked or run over by a “Mustang”, still get anxious that the dirty laundry is overflowing while I attempt to read my book on mindfulness, and still neglect to call yet another friend to set up a get together. But I practice, day and day again, continue to try for discipline, and look to balance doing and being.

May we all find ourselves and one another through this search.