My aim for this month is to observe and pull against my identification with “doing”. This came about as a result of observing haste in myself. Although I have had very little success at pulling against haste, I have, through observing myself in it, been able to identify the emotions that set it in motion and come to realise that my emotional centre is far too attached to the belief that finishing tasks successfully and quickly will bring me happiness, or a sense of fulfilment, or make me feel alive.
My first opportunity to practice this aim this year came with the task of taking down the Christmas decorations. This was a task that I had been unable to carry out because I’d been ill since Christmas. I really wanted to do it because I believed that once it was done, the sitting room would feel less cluttered, more spacious and would help me feel like I was starting afresh for the new year. This belief that the completion of this task would make me feel better set haste in motion; I wanted to complete the task as quickly as possible so I would experience those good feelings as soon as possible. I managed to catch myself thinking these thoughts and determined to stay in presence as long as possible throughout the task and pull against any haste. The experience really did feel like the tug of war in the picture of the Churning of the Milky Ocean. Sometimes the devas prevailed and I acted from a place of presence and sometimes the demons did and I started to hurry, drift off into imagination and so on.
During the moments of presence where I concentrated on performing each movement of the task consciously, staying aware of my environment and of my own presence, I was able to verify what I had previously suspected, that the belief that the completion of the task would bring me happiness is based on a faulty premise. The sense of aliveness that I am searching for is not gained by what I do but the consciousness with which I do it. For I experienced a deep sense of aliveness from carrying out the task in presence which I have never experienced from acting in sleep. The fulfilment came from being deeply present while I was performing the task, not from getting it finished.
Another phenomenon I observed during these moments of presence is an awareness of my own existence, of myself performing the task. This awareness of my Observing ‘I’ creates within my Machine a strange discomfort that I have experienced before; a kind of self-consciousness or pressure that the Machine does not like. Observing this has made me suspect that, on a deeper level, my obsession with ‘doing’ is a buffer or distraction against this sense of my own existence. However, I have verified that this profound sense of my existence is absolutely real whereas keeping myself busy with tasks is false, a substitute for that real sense of Being.
Now I want to tackle the emotions that set haste in motion during my work days. The big one here is fear; fear of not getting to work on time, fear of not being ready for my first patient, fear of not getting home in time to cook my husband supper. This then makes me start hurrying, sometimes really frantically. Although I have observed that often these anxious sets of ‘I’s are unfounded, that I actually have plenty of time, I still have not been able to convince them that I will be ready in time and that haste actually makes me more inefficient and thus more likely to be late or forget something. I still have to succeed at this.