Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To Be or Not to Be

Focus. It seems so funny to me that the word focus would arise with me this morning. As I look back at my morning journal pages, they show little focus (or volume recently). They appear abrupt and interrupted – unfocused. Can they be enough? Can I be enough? Can simply “being” be enough?

The focus of Being. I see it as the tension between allowing things to bubble up – percolate – be what they will be in the moment, AND putting a course into action - following what wants to arise with more steps, through more effort.

For example, I want to write a book (yikes did I just say that?). Will it simply bubble up? Will someone just say, “Here, let me put those unfocused journals into a book for you”? Very unlikely. It takes effort – focus. Will my body get healthy if I just sit around “being” all the time? No, it takes at least a little push to get out and walk, take a class, stretch on my yoga mat.

So, here's where my morning musings landed:

Simply being doesn’t always cut it. Sometimes you have to focus.

Thoughts? Do you experience the tension between being and focusing? To be or not to be - that is the question - today.


Maureen said...

Focus on being what you want to be by being all you are and choose to be.

Intention plus action.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for asking this question - I need to ask more questions on my own blog.

Being; at least for me is a state that can sift through WHEN to move in action - it requires a definitive presence & awareness that says, "With this (whatever this is) I will simply sit or not do anything, but WITH THIS (whatever the other this is) I must be active in my course of work." I too am writing with definitive purpose now - a book??? I don't know, but definitely feeling a movement for more - in varying degrees and direction. Each day as I sit in non-doing for a brief period, it translates into MUCH doing for some reason.

Wow- this feels like a journal entry all over the place, but anyhoo - thank you for letting me share my "being" thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Great question!! Would LOVE to be more of a human BEING rather than the human DOING that I seem to be! (Might have something to do with the last name!- Duguid!) Love, Pamela

roxanne s. sukhan said...

I find myself in this place, too. Unfocussed.

claire bangasser said...

I find it is really important for me to just be some of the time if I want to do, love, cook, write, walk, read, garden the rest of the time.

Sometimes also I need to lay fallow. Which can be scary, because if I stop doing, like writing, will I be able to start again?

I wrote a book thirty years ago. Sent it to McGraw Hill or some place like that and got it back within days. No agent... But then it was not a good book, just great for me. To get things out of my system.

Then I edited a book that was published in 2000 by the UN organization where I worked.

Today blogging suits me fine (but then I must be between 20 and 40 years older than many of you). I like the 'ephemerality' of blogging... with the hope however that in twenty or thirty years, everything being saved on some DVDs that resist time, my two grandsons will be intrigued to find out who was the woman who was playing Marco Polo with them in the pool or watched them play Little Big Planet for hours...

Another journal entry :-)

Dianna Woolley said...

Focus, did I hear focus - must be the word of the week. I think you zoomed right in to the point, the clarity, the reason, idea, the curiosity of what your book will be.....you know there will be one, so why not focus on how wonderful it will be even now as you dream of its words. Focus - it's a good thing. I love this post:)


Susan Carpenter Sims said...

Interesting post. I find that the more in a state of Being I am, the more motivated and energized I am to do. It brings me to the opposite of "sitting around."

Being and focus are synonymous for me. It's when I get out of the state of Being that I begin to spin my wheels, because I'm not focused in the moment.

Kel said...

you want to write a book
yes you said it :)
the ability to simply 'be' is what will give you the content
the ability to focus is what will give you the output

kigen said...

Wow, thanks Lucy for the link to the famous Shakespeare quote, what a lousy day Hamlet was having !! I think that's the first time I've ever actually read through the entire soliloquy.

You said, "It takes at least a little push to get out and walk, take a class, stretch on my yoga mat."

I love walking meditation, the real thing, out there strolling at a good pace, no worries, just being the walk, with all its sights and sounds in succession. Nothing to write home about. Yet it's thrilling really!

Karen said...

What I've been working on lately is the idea of inspired action--waiting for it, listening for it, recognizing it. I sit and I be, or I do the things that must be done (laundry, dishes, dinner, etc.), and I feel for the inspired action, the next logical step. So I suppose that's part of focus, too--but perhaps a gentler aspect. In any case, I definitely feel as though I'm moving forward--and that's always a good thing!

Barbara said...

I tend to agree with the Pollinatrix, that being and focus are closely allied. Maybe one could think of being as a necessary precondition for focus. Being is lying fallow, but open, aware, receptive. A focus on being will naturally lead to some form of doing. Spinning one's wheels and flitting from one activity to another avoids being and is less productive in any meaningful sense. I am good at it when I don't want to get down to doing something I dislike. It is the difference between mindfulness or single-tasking and the scattered, inattentive way most of us live.

Susan Carpenter Sims said...

I actually woke up thinking about this post this morning. The phrase that came into my head was "rooted in Being." I guess what I'm learning is how to return to Being throughout the day, no matter what I'm doing.

Eckhart Tolle's suggestion to cultivate body awareness has been extremely helpful in this regard. To feel the aliveness in my body, the hands, the feet. To notice my breathing. This has a profound an immediate effect of bringing me back to awareness of rootedness in Being.

"Only one thing is needed" popped into my head this morning too, and it took me a minute to realize that comes from the Mary and Martha story. I've always loved this story as a metaphor for two things that exist within us, and it's taking on new life in my imagination and understanding now. It's Martha's WORRY, her "wheel-spinning" that's the problem, not her doing, is what occurs to me: Egoic thinking is the enemy of both being and doing, of doing OUT OF being.

Shoot. I should've turned this into a post!

Kayce aka lucy said...

wow! what a prolific assortment of comments!! for now i am "being" with them and considering that my collective response might just turn into a post.

i learn so much about myself in these interactions. grateful to have you pondering here with me...


Kayce aka lucy said...

this popped into my mailbox this morning:

"You must be, before you can do. To accomplish much, be much. The doing must be the expression of the being. It is foolish to believe that we can accomplish much in personal relationships without first preparing ourselves by being honest, pure, unselfish, and loving. We will be given opportunities when we are able and worthy. Our quiet moments are good preparation for creative action." -- alan roerk

i like it...how about you?

Susan Carpenter Sims said...

I like this.

What I'm working on is bringing those quiet moments INTO creative action, not just in terms of preparation, but to keep an awareness of the quiet eternal Now "underneath" or "inside" creative action. Doing this has been very powerful and effective. It's busting another myth of duality for me, bringing a deeper integration.

Susan Carpenter Sims said...

Obviously, this conversation is provocative for me, because here I am, back again!

I just read something I had to share, from Eckhart Tolle:

"When you give more attention to the doing than to the future result you want to achieve through it, you break the old egoic conditioning. Your doing then becomes not only a great deal more effective but infinitely more fulfilling and joyful."

What I thought of after I read this (besides your post) is that "doing" is different than "getting things done." Doing is a form of being, and it's the "getting things done" mode that is not.

Kayce aka lucy said...

polli - i love the continued conversation. i totally agree with "doing" is different than "getting things done." i remember several years ago being deeply impacted by brother lawrence and his "practicing the presence of god." eckhart tolle seems to be the modern day version.

i totally love it when i can sink into something like washing the dishes and "do" them rather than "get them done." i'm practicing (it's all practice, right?) this in most areas of my life now. my favorite is destination walking - where i have a goal in mind, but the goal disappears during the getting there. hope this makes sense :-)

Susan Carpenter Sims said...

Yes, this makes very good sense! My very first post on my blog was about that kind of walking.

I love the connection you draw between Brother Lawrence and Tolle - I'm going to have to go read Practicing the Presence of God again.

Another thing that I thought of while I was reading your response just now was the conversation I had with one of my classes the other day about using active verbs in writing. "Doing" the dishes is much more active than "getting" the dishes done.

This helps me even further see the integration between being and doing: Being is not the opposite of action, but a way of doing that makes it MORE active.