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The difference between doing and being


If you come to class regularly, you know that lately I have been intrigued by the dualities and the paradoxical nature of life - the balance of masculine and feminine, light and dark, expansion and contraction, giving and receiving, movement and stillness, effort and ease. It is fascinating to me that one aspect does not exist without the other, and through knowing one, we know the other.


The duality that has been showing up most obviously for me is the balance of DOing and BEing. I am constantly DOing - working, writing, thinking, moving, studying, teaching, creating. I love to feel productive, to feel important, to feel significant. I get antsy when I feel like I am not DOing anything. I feel like if I am not being “productive” I am wasting time. Even my idea of rest is DOing something-- like going for a walk or taking a yin yoga class.


There is nothing wrong with DOing. The problem arises when the DOing is not balanced with the BEing. We run into trouble when we attach our self-worth to what we DO instead of who we ARE. We miss out when we are to busy planning out what to DO next that we forget to BE where we are.


I have found that when we stray off balance in any of these dichotomies, life has a way of pulling us back into alignment. If we are too much in the DOing, we will get sick or suffer from burnout and life will force us to slow down for a while. I am feeling that pull now - feeling the seasonal shift into fall calling me back into alignment with BEing and away from DOing. I want to sleep more, to stay home, to be away from people. I want to reflect, turn inwards, and take care of my own needs instead of pouring my energy outwards as I have been for most of the year. My intention for this season is to step into BEing and slow down on the DOing.


If you are constantly busy and in DOing-mode like me, here are some action steps to balance DOing and BEing:

  1. When talking to yourself or others, acknowledge how someone is BEing, rather what they are DOing. Acknowledge their worth as a human-being rather than the benefit of their action. For example, “Thank you for being so kind and thoughtful,” instead of, “Thank you for doing this favor for me.”

  2. Make your to-do list smaller. Prioritize. Eliminate what can wait until next year. Allow yourself to shift with the season and slow down instead of trying to keep pushing through. Life will be easier when you move with the natural cycle of the season.

  3. In yoga asana practice, balance the DOing with the BEing. The DOing is the action - the alignment, the adjustments, the perfecting of the pose. The BEing is the meditation - the feeling, the breathing, the presence of the mind.

  4. Stop trying to prove your worth through your performance. This is the inner work of trusting that we are worthy and valuable no matter what we choose to do. I use these mantras all the time: I HAVE ENOUGH, I DO ENOUGH, I AM ENOUGH.

Thank you for reading my thoughts and I hope you have a peaceful and restful shift into this new season.


With love,

Hana