The Value of Doing Less & Being More

In the words of my yoga teacher:

“This is the modern day yogi’s greatest challenge: Doing less and being more.”

Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place.  But there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.  ~E.L. KonigsburgJust let that sink in for a minute. Don’t try to think about it so much, just be with the concept.

I  tried to do this myself, just be with it. It wasn’t long before my mind started analyzing it, valuating it, deconstructing it.

I see the majority of people I’m surrounded by, including myself, striving. Striving when we don’t need to be striving. Striving where we don’t need to be striving.

We’re looking for the next best “Guide to Happiness” or “List for Success.” There are How-to guides for everything. Someone telling us how to get there so we can take the smoothest route. So we don’t have to “go through” what they went through.

Valuable as this can be, if we exclusively follow other people’s recipes for living, then we will only go where they went. We won’t go anywhere new. We won’t go where we can go.

Doing and striving have very subtle ways of disturbing our happiness and our deep sense of peace and belonging.

Ever notice this with first times? First time for anything, but especially “good” first times. The second time we go at it with expectation, with an idea of  what we want to get out of it, a plan of how to get there.

This doesn’t leave much room for being. Being in our experiences, being in our skin, being in our lives.

There is an enoughness in each of us. A fullness in just being alive. In all the layers we don through life, the light of being sometimes gets cloaked. We forget we just “are,” and we start thinking we are this, or that, or we are not this, or that.

We are successful; Make a Wishwe are a failure; we are a mother; we are not a mother; we are happy; we are not enough; we are respected; we are… fill in the blank with what you think you are.

These are just hats we wear at different times in our life. They do not define us. More importantly, they only limit us if we let them.

There is a fear that rises as we choose to “be more” and “do less.” Who will we be if we’re not doing something? If we can’t rattle off the 50 things we did today and the 50 things we’ve got to do tomorrow, who will people think we are? Who will we think we are?

When we can face that fear and settle into our own bodies, into our own being, and let go of where we want to go, who we want to be, what we want to do, then the peace, rest, and fullness we’re chasing will alight upon us like an evasive butterfly. Finally able to land on us because we are now still enough to receive it.

“Being” is different from “doing nothing.” It’s not daydreaming or simply not moving. It is being fully present where you are, fully aware of your surroundings and of your experiences. As I like to put it, it’s showing up for your life.

Ironically, the hardest part about doing less and being more is that there’s nothing to actually do.

If there was something to do, it would be easy. We’d add it to our list, in between picking up the kids and making dinner, and it would be done.

But it is not a doing. It is an undoing. It is an unraveling of all we think we are so that what already is can start to emerge and fill us with completeness, fullness, and enoughness.

This is not just the challenge of the modern yogi. It’s the challenge of the modern man, woman, and child.

Do less. Be more.