At the beginning of each group meditation, I always check in with everyone and ask how they’re doing, though yesterday, I asked, “How are you Being?” Even though it was a bit of a joke, I’ve been thinking about how it really is a far more relevant question than the typical salutation. By implication, you are asking: To what extent are you experiencing access to your full, unbounded Self? This really is the only thing we should be asking ourselves on a daily basis. Much too much attention is put on our “doings.” We identify with them, we worship them by prioritizing our “to do” list above our mental and physical health and relationships. But what is the point of all this “doing?”
Why, why do we put so much emphasis on our outward actions as opposed to our inner experience? If you think about it, it all comes back to our inner experience anyway. Even someone who puts all their effort into achieving a goal, say getting a promotion. They get the promotion, there is a temporary elation of inner feeling with the change of status. However, this quickly normalizes and the person’s baseline consciousness state resumes. Then it’s on to the next thing, the next “doing” that’s going to give a little hit of satisfaction. Furthermore, when we identify with our “doings,” as in, “I’m an athlete, I’m a successful scientist, I’m an advertising executive,” we confuse who we are with what we do, which will end up saying yes a lot to activities associated with upholding the identity when we really feel no inside.
When we don’t prioritize our inner experience directly, and put off meditating and other restful practices, it is the stress in our physiology that is directing most of our “doings.” Many of our thoughts in a stressed consciousness state are disjointed and grasping, so our actions reflect that. These are not evolutionary actions, but busy-ness going in circles. If it’s not “to-do list” items taking priority, it’s stress-coping habits like phone scrolling or emotional eating that take up our time.
So how do we break the cultural hypnosis of “doing” worship?
It’s hard, really, really hard to wake up to the importance of putting your state of Being above your state of doing. I know all this stuff inside and out and I still sometimes find myself just trying to just get through a few more things instead of sitting down to meditate…like writing this essay, in fact….hold on…(20 minutes of meditation later)…okay, I’m back. That was funny, I was literally doing the thing I said you shouldn’t do by prioritizing writing this piece. Here are four steps to chip away at this indoctrination:
The first thing is to start checking in with yourself about your state of consciousness. Is it dull? Bright? Cloudy? Expansive? Crisp? What does it feel like to be you? What does it feel like to be in your body? Uncomfortable? Serene? Edgy? Blissful? Is this my normal baseline, or is this unusual for me? By bringing awareness to it, you begin to bring priority to our inner experience and see it as separate from our outside activity. When you start to feel spontaneous happiness regardless of what you’re doing, what it is you’re doing begins to matter much less.
Once you start keeping tabs on your inner experience, it’s much easier to stay motivated to keep to a meditation practice and other healthy habits because you will connect a lighter, more expansive state of Being with the practices. And conversely, you will notice when you don’t go to sleep on time, or eat much more than you need to, or skip your meditation, your inner experience becomes rough and uncomfortable. It is your meditation practice that will begin to erode the hypnosis all on its own, so it’s imperative to maintain consistency.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. When we repeatedly go into that state of Being twice a day with meditation, the point of “Doing” takes a 180 degree turn. Rather than “doing” in order to extract happiness from the outside, we start finding happiness within and we become exporters of happiness. The point of doing is no longer to pull tiny boosts of satisfaction from our outside experiences, it’s to share your happiness with others. When you’ve been meditating for a while, you stop experiencing the self as just the little you in your body but as everyone and everything. So, when you see part of your “Self” is hurting, whether that’s your neighbor or the planet or a group of people on the other side of the world, you naturally act to uplift it.
Finally, once we are established in Being enough, it is from this place that our doing spontaneously arises. “Yogastah Kuru Karmani” or “Established in Being, perform action,” is the greatest line from the Bhagavad Gita. This is action coming straight from its source, which means its highly evolutionary for you and everyone else, and highly relevant to the moment. When you are doing from this place, it feels like your inner Self is leading, and what’s odd about it is that your individuality really doesn’t care about the outcome. You’ve gotten a call from the Big Self, and however it shakes out, well, that’s up to the Big Self too, so it’s all good. Your inner experience, your state of consciousness, your state of Being is coming from within, so there’s no personal state in the outcome.
“How are you Being?” is truly the most valuable question because that is where all doing arises. If the collective state of consciousness were to expand to that unbounded state, doings such as the harming of others, the harming of our Earth, the harming of ourselves would spontaneously cease. So next time I see you, if I ask, “How are you Being?,” it may be a bit of Vedic humor, but I also would love to know.
Kids are almost always in Being.