As I write this practice, it is vigorously snowing outside and I am deeply grateful to be tucked in and warm. As I watch the snow fall, I find myself pondering something that came up recently and that is the relationship between, and differences around, being and doing.
This got me to thinking about the importance of how we be and that our being is so much more important than our doing. That doesn’t mean doing doesn’t play a significant role in how we engage and impact the world, but it seems to me that the bottom line really focuses on the quality and tone of our being.
I’ve said before that our internal self-talk is a form of self-hypnosis and that the quality of our self-talk plays a major role in determining the quality of our internal life, of our felt-sense of who and how we are in the world. There are many practices that invite us to track our self-talk, along with suggestions as to how we might shift from self-critical internal conversations to those that reflect acceptance, support, and gratitude for who and how we are. Some are from cognitive therapy approaches and some are from the ever-expanding influence of mindfulness practices.
For this week’s practice, first, I invite you to become even more aware of the internal conversations you have with yourself and to notice how these moments of self-talk affect you. Do they lift you up and make you feel more able to engage the world, to dive into activities and projects that nourish you, to help you settle into a deeper sense of comfort with yourself? Or, do these moments of self-talk drag you down, generate shame, or make you feel that you want to avoid connecting with your world?
One of the practices I do regularly is to sit quietly and imagine my whole body-mind being immersed in universal love. I imagine it flowing in through the top of my head and filling me entirely. At the same time, I spend time thanking all aspects of my being for the contributions they offer to me and I come away from these moments feeling filled up and happy to be who and where I am. I also practice a wholeness meditation I adapted from the work of David Spangler. Here’s a YouTube link to that meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi6-M4luCWE
Secondly, after you’ve played with tracking your self-talk, notice what may change in both your experience of being and the relationship you have with doing. When we feel connected to ourselves and are able to connect comfortably with our world, we often automatically flow into activities that support our feelings of contentment, value, and interest. Even when these activities focus on chores, a sense of well-being can help us move through them more easily. Doing can often feel like a drag when we don’t feel good about ourselves, so also play with noticing the quality and tone of your relationship with doing when you are in a positive state of being versus when you are bogged down with negative self-talk.
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Rather, it’s an invitation to bring your curiosity—your constant companion in these explorations—to the foreground of awareness as you discover what it is that supports an ever-deepening sense of well-being. And please remember to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through. In fact, most negative self-talk benefits from a gentle pat on the head and a willingness to let them flow on by without your having to do anything with or about them. They are usually protective responses from early learnings and don’t actually reflect something that is true in this present moment.