In his highly recommended book, Mindfulness for Dummies, mindfulness coach Shamash Alidina emphasises the importance of actively switching from a busy 'doing' mode, to a more present state of 'being'.
'Doing' mode is a highly developed quality in humans: we have a wonderful ability to conceptualise how you want things to be, and then work methodically in order to get there. Doing mode allows us to be productive and efficient.
However, when doing mode can easily spin out of control: if we do more and more without taking a break, we can feel increasingly anxious, tired, stressed and far away from our centre.
In our culture, most people spend too much time in 'doing' mode and not enough time in 'being' mode. In being mode, you have a chance to let go of the usual, habitual patterns of the mind and drop into the calm awareness that is always present (even though you may not notice this, or be in tune with it).
If, as with animals and small children, your attention is truly in the moment - eg if you're engaged in a 'flow' activity, such as playing a musical instrument, or doing yoga - and if you are connecting directly with your senses, you are in 'being' mode.
Here are ten ways to switch from 'doing' mode to 'being' mode:
- Although our culture promotes it, avoid multi-tasking! Doing too many things at the same time will encourage your head to spin. It's best to do one thing well, rather than many things badly.
- When walking from place to place, take the opportunity to feel your feet on the floor, and check in with your posture and breathing.
- When moving from one activity to another, take a moment to rest.
- When you feel stressed, take three complete in-breaths, and three complete out-breaths. Experiment with a longer exhale, to take you out of flight-or-fight mode.
- Find time to do a hobby or sport. These activities tend to involve connecting with the senses, which immediately brings you into being mode.
- Eat food with full attention, pausing before the meal to take stock of how the food arrived on your plate, and perhaps giving thanks.
- When taking a bath or shower, use the time to feel the warmth of the water on your skin. Enjoy the sound of the water and breathe in the scent of your favourite soap or body wash.
- When you feel excessively tense or emotional, use a Three Minute Breathing Space practice to move towards 'being' mode. This will help you move towards the challenging experience, rather than reacting to try to avoid it.
- Establish a regular meditation routine - 10-20 minutes a day is a good start.
- Treat yourself to a day (perhaps a retreat, or you can just be at home) of mindfulness once in a while. Wake up slowly, feel your breath frequently, and connect with your senses, and with significant people around you.
Extracted from Mindfulness for Dummies, by Shamash Alidina