Looks Like? Or Doing?

Written by Amy on May 28th, 2015

“Where’s Dolly?” mom asked.

I could see the dog behind mom, “she’s sitting on her cushion.”

“What’s she doing?”

“She’s looking at the wall,” I said.

“Why do you think she’s doing that?” Mom continued the questioning, which my brother and I affectionately refer to as the “lawyer” aspect of her personality that has only grown stronger with age and Alzheimer’s.

“I think she’s meditating.”

Mom smiled and shook her head no.

“Well,” I shrugged, “she looks like she’s meditating.”

Mom sat up straight in her chair and looked at me with an emphatic gaze. “Well,” she announced: Looks like and doing are not the same thing.”

Need I say more?  Once again, thank you mom!

Ok, granted, the dog was being a perfect dog, and she did not claim she was meditating!!  Play with my story here as a way to appreciate that difference between “looking” and “doing”.

The difference between looking and doing has nothing to do with time – they both exist in the same moment – you can look like you’re doing something and be doing it, or you can look like you’re doing one thing and actually be doing something completely different.

When looks like and doing are not the same thing, we’re not in integrity, we don’t feel fully alive, and our confidence is probably zilch.  When we’re going through the motions, body and mind become two separate things.

My Zen teacher used to say: “What’s the point of sitting still on your cushion?  A rock can do that!  Set a rock on your cushion if that’s what you want – the rock will do it better than you ever will.  What are you doing on your cushion?”

So what do you do when you find yourself “looking like” instead of whole body & mind “doing”?  Simple mindfulness goes a long way:

  • Notice that you’re not here
  • Let it be
  • Get physical

How does this apply?  Well, if you were like Dolly, sitting in a meditation position, you might start off sitting with ease and presence of mind and at some point… trail off into La La Space Out Land (that’s a technical Mindfulness term).  So you would Notice that you’re not here: “Oh. I’m spaced out.”  And let it be.  “What?!”  You may say, “don’t I have to do something punitive or corrective when I notice that I’m not here?”  Actually, all you have to do is notice  ‘not being here’ and let it be.

That’s the magic of this present moment.  It’s always changing, so there’s no need to “do” anything about spacing out.  Just notice it and the moment of “spaced out” is already gone.  If you do feel yourself seduced into endless moments of spacing out, then you can Get physical: as you are letting things be just as they are, allow your attention to notice, to really be aware of just how are things physically?  What sensations do you feel?  Do you feel your breath?  Your feet and hands?  The cool breeze on your skin?  What are you smelling, tasting, hearing?

Scroll down below and let me know what happens for you when you Notice you’re not here and Let it beand Get physical if needed :-)

While mindfulness is simple, it’s not always easy.  Especially if your nervous system has been jangled by chronic stress or difficult events.  When that’s the case, you may need a little help to ease the diverted the stream of attention back into it’s natural flow.  I’d love to help you do that.  Feel free to contact me or check out my individual work. Why not free yourself from whatever makes it hard to just be here? You can click here to read more, then we can have a conversation to see if this is a good fit for your needs.

3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Yve says:

    In integrity with one self. I like how you share and explain this very much. Thank You… 😉

  2. Jutta Nedden says:

    Thank you, Amy, your mum is very wise. When looks like and doing are not the same thing / when we just pretend doing something, we are not in integrity with ourselves. I have just realised, how much energy it takes…

  3. Amy says:

    Thanks Yve & Jutta!
    And Jutta, I appreciate what you say about how much energy it takes to pretend and not be in integrity. Thanks for commenting :-)

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