Being vs. Doing

by Mona Keddy

Over the years, I have come to realize I am good at filling up my time. I remember as a child and teen how endlessly summer stretched out. The log days without the structure of school and isolated on the farm where I grew up were boring. Time inched along. Somewhere along the road to adulthood, things changed. I became excellent at packing days full to the brim.

These days I notice the following pattern. I look at my schedule and see a spacious day, deliberately left open for writing, asana practice, study and contemplation. I then think, “Oh, I have time to have coffee with Friend X. And I could practice with Friend Y and then I could write and study.” Suddenly, my wide-open day becomes completely scheduled. While all of these things I want and love to do, the spaciousness is eliminated.

A similar phenomenon happens in my yoga practice. I reserve a spacious amount of time for asana. As I move through my sequence, I discover things to add, I meander off the road to the goal pose or I stay on track and add more poses. Time disappears. As lovely as this is, what it often means is that I am left with two minutes for Savasana and not ten.

Over the years, when I have consulted various alternative health practitioners for a variety of reasons, I have often been “prescribed” Savasana. Lie down for 10 or 15 minutes, I am told. Different practitioners have different ideas about the length of time for the period of rest and suggest different placements of the body. However, the intention is the same. Be spacious. Let time drift. Do nothing. Be more. Allow.
Culture, lifestyle and personal tendencies all come together to challenge the notion of rest. Our heroes are people who DO. They are not the ones sitting in contemplation, BEING. Psychologists talk about the struggle against this sort of letting go. They conceptualize this as a possible defense against feelings we want to avoid like fear or depression. They may say we are battling a sense of aloneness that the unstructured time in Savasana might bring up. The yogis say, however, that in this space we can actually touch the Infinite Self deeper inside us. Yogis say we are not alone; we are part of a greater whole and Savasana is a time for that understanding to be more deeply implanted. We are after all human “be-ings”, not human “do-ings”.
The reminders serve me well. I commit to a more spacious Savasana and life seems easier, richer and with more time. It is amazing what 10 or 15 minutes can do.

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