The Being Mode and the Big Chair
It’s rare that we ever stop ‘doing’. We’re conditioned to replace what we think or we know we lack, and we translate this into our mental landscape as well. I know from my own experience that I’ve been trained to ‘get things done’, to ‘fix’ things, that if I get done what ‘needs’ to get done, then I’ll be happy. Surprise surprise – it’s never made me happy. Mindfulness meditation is the exact opposite – it’s a state of being, which comes about as naturally to me as to anyone else, and frequently vexes me. I start nodding off? Sign of doing. Impatient? Sign of doing. Wondering if I’m doing it right? Sign of doing.
This evening I had a bit of a breakthrough. I spent three quarters of the time mostly ‘doing’. I was aware that I was concentrating on my breathing rather than just breathing. It was only Alistair’s intervention in the guided section of the evening which helped – reminding us we could actually let go of the breath and not think about it – not thinking about it wouldn’t make it stop after all. What we needed to do was merely to be aware of it. It was like a switch got flipped. Minutes later, whilst watching the undercurrent of my mental experience from what he calls ‘the big chair’ (of the ‘observer’), I noticed a thought – ‘I’m supposed to be good at this, I’ve been here a long time now’. Even weeks ago I’d have swatted that to one side, oblivious to the judgments I have of my thoughts. It’s a thought I frequently have and am not proud of, but this time I took Alistair’s weekend advice to heart and welcomed it. I was immediately filled with an unbelievably huge sense of warmth and well-being. That was ‘being’.
I think I’m starting to accept myself slowly.