In Taoism there is a trust in the flow of life, an acceptance of the twists and turns of life and the willingness to surrender rather than fight against it all.
To be able to ride this watery flow it helps to find that balance between the doing and the being, the yang and the yin.
The practice of mindfulness helps to guide us into this state of being rather than our usual busy state of ticking things off the to do list. When we are in this more conscious present moment state it helps our bodily systems to self regulate, our mind to become clear and for us to be able to gain a wider more heart felt perspective on things.
In Mark Williams and Danny Penman’s book “Mindfulness - a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” they list 7 characteristic of the doing v being modes of mind, which I think are very help to be aware of:
Automatic pilot v conscious choice. We are creatures of habit and for a lot of the time this is helpful for day to day activities like brushing our teeth, driving to work and getting dressed. However it can be easy to be so in the mode of getting things done that we carry on doing even when something doesn’t actually feel right for us or isn’t best for us. When we practice mindfulness and have moments through out the day to breathe and check in we can then settle enough to make a conscious choice about what is best to do next rather than being in a state of reaction all the time.
Analysing v sensing. Our brain in doing mode is analytic, we are very good at planning and organising and assessing situations in our heads. The mind can create all sorts of stories to give events meanings, that actually are often just that, made up in our heads to try to gain some kind of insight to situations we may not have control over. When we practice mindfulness and just focus on what is going on within we pay attention to our senses, all the different feelings we are experiencing in that moment. This then helps us to wake up our connection to our intuition when we can start to listen to our bodies wisdom telling us if a situation is right or not for us.
Striving v accepting. Our brain in it’s goal orientated mode will look at where we are at now and where we want to be to solve the perceived “problem”. Then we will focus on the gap of what is missing and getting into a mode of striving to get to where we want to be. As I am sure you will have experienced, if we are in a state of resistance towards what is going on in the present moment it creates more tension in the body and mind. “What you resist persists!”. In the mindful state of being we are able to accept when ever is going on in the moment, acknowledging it just is as it is and then from that calm centred place we can think clearly about what will be the most compassionate thing to do next.
Avoidance v approaching. Human beings will do anything to get what they perceive as pleasure and avoid pain. So as much as we will get in action towards our goals we will equally do anything to avoid the painful feelings such as failure, rejection, anger and so on. What we know now is that repressing feelings ends up with them just being stored in the body for later to come out in some other way. A mindful practice helps is to turn towards what ever we are feeling with an attitude of friendliness and kindness. Knowing it will pass, as everything does.
Seeing thoughts as solid real events v treating them as mental events. It’s common to perceive our thoughts as truth but through watching our thoughts come and go on meditation we can start to treat them as just passing energies that don’t have to impact us if we don’t feed them.
Mental time travel v remaining in the present moment. We all know by now how much our minds can be spend remembering the past or planning/ worrying about the future. Mindfulness helps to give us moments in our day of being completely aware of the moment, which as I have said above helps to settle us, to calm and think clearly.
Depleting v nourishing activities. Of course when we have big long to do lists the things that we really want to do, the things that will really nourish us often get put to the wayside for after we have got the other stuff done. Mindfulness helps us to prioritise looking after ourselves so we can be in our best energy for everything else. Life is short, why let it fly by rather than savouring each moment?
It’s easy to think if I slow down and reduce the to do list a bit I won’t anything done, I will be lazy…… I have found that when I allow myself to just relax about everything and take my time actually I still get the important things done and the other things may drop down the list a bit but really who cares, when they were not that vital anyway!!!
I recommend reading the book I mentioned above on Mindfulness and if you’d like to come and experience some mindfulness with me Yin Yoga is a perfect way to practice it. It’s a very slow form of Yoga where you hold a pose for a few minutes and become still so then you can practice watching all that arises within. I run weekly classes, monthly workshops and Yin teacher trainings.