Being Mode: The Art of Deep Living
Let’s say there are two methods of fishing. You can race a speedboat across the surface of an ocean, dragging along a net to catch the minnows that dart around the surface. Alternatively, you might cast a line into the murky depths where the juiciest fish live, patiently waiting for the larger prey that requires expertise to catch.
Which do you prefer?
Our human psychology permits you two ways of living: Doing Mode and Being Mode. Either you spend your days on the surface, racing from task to task (Doing Mode), or you become deeply absorbed in your surroundings (Being Mode).
The parallel with meditation is that you train yourself to come into Being Mode on command, beginning to notice and appreciate more in each situation. Being Mode is both intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding: you’re able to fully appreciate the activity and you also get the bigger fish.
You might say, well sometimes I am being and sometimes I am doing. But how you approach one thing often dictates how you approach other aspects of life.
“If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert and a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of doing these things joyfully. With the cup in my hands, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the fragrance and the flavour of the tea, together with the pleasure of drinking it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
If you aren’t in Being Mode while performing mundane tasks, then can you really be present next time there’s a sunset, your kid’s first soccer goal, or a birthday celebration? Wouldn’t your mind only skip to the next mode of doing – pulling out your cellphone to snap a photo or thinking about an unrelated office task? I invite you to notice closely next time you arrive at the moment you’ve been striving for, carefully observing your mind. If you can’t “show up” for the dishes, can you really show up for your kids?
The dishes are in fact training in mindfulness for the more naturally enjoyable experiences in life so that you can be more present during those times and really get the most out of them. The way I think about my day now has changed dramatically because each activity is an opportunity to train mindfulness, rather than an annoying hassle that needs to be removed in order to get to the next one. I fold the laundry – that’s training. I drive to meet a friend – that’s training. In this way, each seemingly mundane task becomes an opportunity to train your mind to live deep.
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