Recently, a friend and I were talking about how to handle the polarity between doing and being that many of us carry inside of us. We’ve been raised in a culture that emphasizes effort, trying, achievement, and success in material terms. The work ethic and the drive to constantly do pervade our society. On the job, unpaid overtime has become routine, and low-paying positions often force people to work at two jobs to make ends meet. Multi-tasking, email, and social media fill up all our “free” time, and friends and family are seen on the fly.
Even outside of mainstream culture, among those who are seeking to change the status quo to something more humane and truly livable, there is a certain push to be active, busy, involved in something. During the current period of major Earth changes, people’s experience of accelerating time also contributes to the frenetic need to keep moving—just to keep up with the hours that are rushing by!
Yet cracks in this compulsive busyness are appearing—possibly because we have run ourselves to the wall with the 24/7 modality. People are turning to things like meditation and yoga because they are quite literally burned out. Often their bodies stop them before their minds do. Headaches, injuries, and dis-ease of all kinds pop up in our lives to show us that all is not well. We are forced to slow down and find a way back to health. When we stop filling our lives with events and activities and instead focus on self-healing, doing takes a backseat to being and allowing.
Regular meditation or yoga practice helps individuals make this mental shift. The breath is of prime importance in both. Students learn to allow the breath to flow in and out without effort, without holding. In some traditions, they learn to watch the breath and just be in the quiet inner stillness. Eventually, with practice, people learn to carry that letting go to their daily lives, allowing events and emotions to pass through them without judgment or clutching, just as the breath does. Doing in this context arises from the quiet, centered space of being, not from polarized trying or effort.
The key, of course, is reaching that balance in a world that is skewed to emphasize just the opposite. But that’s why we’re here. The world is evolving, and we are evolving. We’re living the transition, learning how to embody the new human BE-ing, how to be conscious spirit in physical form, effortlessly flowing with the energy of life.