I once read an interview with Deepak Chopra in which he said that generally people spend their lives in activity and rarely, if ever, take time out for contemplation, or to simply be in their own presence, unaffected by outside distractions. We are, he concluded, not human beings, but human doings.
Lately I’ve been realizing how much I am a human doing. My secret (sometimes even to me) ambition is to micromanage the universe. In thinking about the source of this urge, I traced it to the fight/flight instinct.
It stems from the most primitive part of our brain, sometimes called the reptilian brain. However, what makes us different from the reptiles is that they had a more accurate perception of danger. They didn’t spend most of their time fighting or fleeing.
We humans expose ourselves much more to what looks like danger. In addition to what we hear and see on news programs, other forms of media can affect us.
I was watching a program on the Internet today when a commercial came on. It advertised a TV series about a serial killer. Featured in the clip were bodies, gunfire, and blood. Anyone who watches this program will be treated to many more multisensory prods that tell the undiscriminating primitive brain that it’s in danger. This kind of sensory input encourages us to see threats everywhere and magnify or misread ordinary occurrences.
I had written the first part of this blog when I had to go for a dental appointment. (Now, that is a true threat.) On my way there, I saw a car parked in my lane. It had probably broken down, and all I thought was that I would be late for my appointment. Enter road rage.
A truck pulled up behind me, blocking my view of the next lane. Then the driver got out, causing even further obstruction of my view. Magnify road rage. Then, to my surprise (and chagrin), I saw that he was directing traffic so that drivers in my lane could safely move to the other lane.
That emphasized to me that my insistence on doing could cause me to see a threat where none exists. When I came home, I made a list of the reasons why DOING is so important to me.
I’m nervous if I don’t DO.
I get scared if I don’t DO.
I’m afraid to BE.
They’ll sneak up on me.
And I’ll be DONE.
I’m not worthy if I don’t DO.
Then I made some notes in favor of BEING.
When I am BEING,
I’m allowing intuitions and insights to flow in.
I’m opening the door to inner creativity.
I’m receiving guidance about how and when to DO.
When I’m scared, angry, or in other ways dancing to the tune of the primitive brain, I can never find a creative solution to any problem. It’s in that place of BEING that creativity flourishes. BEING conserves our mental and emotional energy and allows it to flow in the direction of a creative solution.
If you need a reminder to just be, consider doing one of the following:
If a cat is in your life, study it. Cats have the art of being down. If that cat jumps into your lap, relax into the experience, paying special attention to its purring (which may be the best tranquilizer around).
Squirrels and birds also offer opportunities for observation. They are both known to sit on branches for extended periods of time in apparent contemplation.
Basically, if you watch any animal long enough, you will find that it’s a master of being.
Another of my preferred routes to being is to listen to one of my favorite Beatles songs.