For many of us, our basic state of wellbeing is hidden from us by a misunderstanding we live by, a false paradigm that we are human doings, not human beings.
We see ourselves as the sum total of our experiences and accomplishments.
Many people grow up with parents who, in trying to do right by their kids, constantly show them how to improve and find better ways to be productive.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but children subjected to too much of this can grow up feeling that they are loved because of their ability to accomplish and succeed. Some develop a fear that if they stop being productive, they will stop being loved.
Many of us believe our external actions are the very substance of our being.
Our identity becomes defined by what we accomplish. If we’re productive, we matter. I have seen countless people living on the anxious treadmill of productivity, terrified to step off and pause for fear of losing their basic sense of worth.
Our obsession with productivity is a powerful notion. It convinces us that if we stop doing, we’re bad.
We have not been taught to trust the basic truth that something in us longs to do and create; it doesn’t need to be threatened and corralled into productivity to save us from worthless sloth.
Our life, as we experience it, is created through the accumulation of experiences we generate.
Stillness, on the other hand—not getting somewhere, not getting something done, not being productive—is imagined as a kind of void or absence, a place where we don’t experience life.
This is false.
We live as human doings in part because we’re not taught that our own presence is a destination. Our own body with a clear mind is a place of value, a place to inhabit that has its own sensory aliveness.
From the time we’re very young we learn that our head holds the throne of life. It is the king/queen of all domains.
Our body, on the other hand, is viewed as an entity that exists to provide us with pleasure or pain. It is an object we use to accomplish things. We take it for granted until it is directly stimulated or ejected from its basic invisibility due to illness, injury, or aging.
But the problem is that when we don’t value the body, we lose contact with our inherent sense of worth.
Disconnected from the body, we become untethered from a sense that we matter not because of what we do, but just because we are.
The body is our portal to experience life. It precedes and outlives all other experiences. It’s through the body that we directly experience a sure sense of our own wholeness, and the knowledge that we are already everything we need to be, and we already matter.
When we drop out of the head, stop thinking, and exist in the body, we immediately feel a sense of just being. Inside the body, we experience the hum of life, something that’s happening on its own without our having to do anything.
Through meditation, body practice, or simply choosing to experience the body from the inside out, we can learn to ride the waves of breath and connect more deeply with our innate being. This practice of just encountering what’s here, what we are and exist within without any effort, builds a trust in us that there exists a life force bigger than us. This is a life force we exist within and are made of.
Joining with the body and experiencing how it is right now, feeling what’s actually happening inside you, without constructing a story about what it says about you or anyone else, is a courageous and profoundly radical choice.
When we make our body a destination and inhabit the body with kindness and curiosity, we can know a direct experience of being. This is a sensation of our own existence and doesn’t require any action to create or maintain.
It takes courage to leave the mind and drop into the body, a willingness to reject or still the constant movements of the mind.
But if we do, we are rewarded with a deeper trust in our own being, and a knowledge of its inherent worth. What we find in the body, away from the mind, is presence.
Tuning into the hum of just being, we uncover a sense of wholeness and worth that is inherent, un-manufactured, and effortless. It is utterly unrelated to accomplishment.
We discover a sense of our own value—the gift of being alive.
Nancy Colier is a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, public speaker, workshop leader and author of The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World. For more information, visit NancyColier.com