Being or Doing

by Miranda Chapman

Lately, I have been reminded of a phrase I once heard or read: we are human beings not human doings.

Two weeks ago I completed my stepping away from the administrative and program direction work with Copper Beech Institute to make more space for my teaching practice. I had been anticipating this reprieve, taking July and August “off” and resuming my teaching work at Copper Beech, and beyond, in September.

But, it’s interesting how I choose to fill this time. There are so many moments when I cannot allow myself to simply be but I must do: the laundry, the banking, meditate, something productive. The doing feels safer in some ways: I am protected from judgment of my perceived laziness by others and myself. Sitting and doing nothing, luxuriating in the unknown of the next moments: something about it doesn’t feel acceptable.

I often joke about my inner ‘overlord’ — this insistent voice in my head telling me what to do, how to do it, if I’ve done it good enough — which I then superimpose into my outer life and run myself ragged with all of the ‘shoulds.’

It doesn’t hurt that my partner and I have taken on the challenge of building a house from the ground up so there are innumerable tasks at hand. But, this morning, I give myself permission to be. I give myself permission to sleep in late and drink coffee on rising. I give myself permission to meditate and move mindfully for as long as I want. I give myself permission to stop all of the doing and rest back into the being.

Miranda Chapman is the founding Program Director and Senior Faculty at Copper Beech Institute, the nation’s newest retreat center for mindfulness and contemplative practice. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 transformational retreats and courses, as well as mindfulness practice and mindfulness at work offerings to help you awaken to the beauty of your life.

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