Letting Go of Doing is not about not doing things. It is about letting go of the doing mode of consciousness – the attitude we bring to our doing.
The “doing mode” tells us we have to make a phone call, run an errand, respond to an email, do the laundry, complete the budget, prepare for the meeting. These may well be things that we have to do. But when we are stuck in the “doing mode” our attention is caught in the “having to do them, drive to get them done.
When I am stuck in the doing mode, I move from one task to another, without pausing to savor the moment. I finish one task, and immediately am deciding what to do next. Which of the many items on my “to do” list shall I focus on next?
When I am caught in this mode my mind feels tight. My body adopts a background tension. My attention becomes tunnel vision; I see only what I am doing, and filter out other aspects of the present moment. I miss the beauty that surrounds me. I become a human doing rather than a human being.
When I am caught in this state I am not usually aware of it. I am so caught in the doing, there is not even space in my awareness to appreciate the fact I am caught in it. Only when for one reason or other I step out of the mode do I appreciate how stuck I have been. Then it seems as if I have been in some kind of trance. Yet while I am in the doing trance, I am under the illusion that I am fully conscious.
So how can we wake up, recognize we are caught in the doing mode, and step outside the trance?
Some things I have found helpful are:
Pause between before taking on a new task, and take a moment to savor the present moment, become aware of your surroundings and how your body feels, take a few deep breaths, and smell the roses,
Pause to notice how your mind feels when it is in the doing mode. Is there a faint state of tension? A sense of pressure? A feeling of focussedness? A mental intensity? Whatever there is, just notice it. Don’t try to get rid of it – that will probably only become another “doing” and keep you stuck. Get to know the feeling of the “doing mode” as fully as you can. Accept it. Let it be. And as you do, you’ll probably notice it slowly dissolving.
Set a random timer to remind you of the above.
Have a short meditation.
At the start of each day, or work period, take a few minutes to be quiet, and give yourself the mental set that you will notice yourself in the doing mode and step out of it more often.
Pray for help. (It often works!)
Make love, play music, and don’t take things too seriously.
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