7 Characteristics of Being


In my last blog I talked about the benefits of being vs doing. What it means to ‘just be’ is still something I  sometimes find it hard to get my head around. I came across these seven characteristics of being vs doing in Mindfulness, a Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World. I hope you find them as useful as I did.

1. Autopilot vs conscious choice

Doing mode automates your life habits, so you can tie your shoelaces or drive a car without thinking about it. That’s very handy, because it means you can use your brain’s processing power for other things. The danger is that you sleepwalk through large swathes of your day, as you do more and more things in autopilot.

2. Analysing vs sensing

Doing mode involves spending a lot of time in our heads as we analyse, compare and plan, which means we are sensing less of the world through our body. Being mindful means getting back in touch with our senses, so that you feel, taste, hear see and smell things, as if for the first time. This means you rediscover a child-like curiosity of the world around you.

3. Striving vs accepting

Doing mode means judging whether our experience matches up to what we think it ought to be like, rather than allowing it to unfold as it is. It’s not resignation to your fate, but rather, it allows you to work with your experience rather than attacking it, arguing with it or trying to disprove its validity. It gives you more control over your life, because it allows you to stop negative spirals from beginning.

4. Seeing thoughts as solid and real vs treating them as mental events

In doing mode, it’s easy to mistake the creations of the mind for reality. Your mood plummets as you believe thoughts such as I messed that up because I’m useless; they hate me; I’m never going to succeed. Mindfulness teaches that thoughts are just mental events that you can choose whether or not to pay attention to or believe.

5. Avoidance vs approaching

Doing mode wants to avoid uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety and stress. Being mode, on the other hand, encourages you to ‘approach’ or take a friendly interest in your most difficult states of mind. This compassionate approach gradually dissipates the power of your negative feelings.

6. Mental time travel vs remaining in the present moment

Through recalling and planning, we relive the pain of past event and prelive the impact of future disasters. Meditation makes your more conscious that this is happening, which helps to free you from being a slave to mental time travel, so that you can live you life as it unfolds in the present moment.

7. Depleting vs nourishing activities

In doing mode you can get so caught up in career and life goals that you neglect your health and wellbeing. Being mode restores the balance by helping you to sense more clearly the things that nourish you and the things that deplete your inner resources. It also helps you to deal more skillfully with the unavoidable aspects of life that can drain your energy and innate happiness.

If you think your workplace could benefit from learning how to ‘be’ more of the time, then please get in contact.

Also, I’m running mindfulness sessions this month on Monday evenings in Soho. Here are the details.