The Doing or the Done?

by Jen Whinnen

Sometimes I just sit and spin my wheels and spin and spin and spin. I sit at the computer and just become this lump of Idle, whiling away time looking at Facebook and generally worrying over things I can neither control nor fix (oil leak anyone?). At times like this I end up feeling utterly impotent and useless. Time becomes the enemy. It taunts me and slips away as I try and will myself into some kind of focus and concentration.

Yet, as I actively curse my idle ways, I never seem to stop indulging in them.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my malaise. How many of us do things we know don’t resonate with us, stand outside ourselves and watch us do things we know we will regret, yet seem completely incapable of stopping ourselves?

For me at times like this, the best thing to do is to sit down and write. I am a writer. Not professionally or artistically, but I am a writer. Some people are bikers, cooks, readers, runners, some dance, some solve math problems or take photos, but we all have a “thing” that connects us to the larger world and makes us feel like we are where we ought to be. When I am out of sync with myself it’s because I have forgotten that I am a person who writes. When I don’t know what to do with myself or where to go, when I am confused or frustrated, I get back by sitting down with my friends Writing Utensil and Paper. And it’s not the actual words themselves that make so much of a difference as it is the act of writing. The comfort of dragging a pen across the page, of sitting down at my desk and feeling the breeze through the window, hearing the noises of the city, the children playing. When I am in that space I am not withdrawn or self damning, but instead feel a deep sense of wholeness.

Most of what I write is utter junk that will never see the light of day, but this is irrelevant. Regardless of the outcome, putting it together is the thing. It’s the doing, not the done. Ask any artist, any athlete, any scholar and they will tell you that the actual success of the thing is far less satisfying than the doing of the thing. When a dancer speaks of her performance, she becomes most alive and most engaging when she jumps up and starts demonstrating the piece for you. At that moment, the Dance dances. At that moment, she is connected to her Spanda, to the internal vibration of Shakti, to the Cosmos, to God.

In our teacher trainings we talk a lot about how yoga is just a conduit. Yoga itself is not a thing. It’s just a practice. The poses themselves are just physical movements that, in order to be useful, must meet the person where they are. If the pose does not serve the person practicing it, does not promote self-awareness and health, then it has no purpose, it has no movement. Similar to life, if our lives have no purpose, if we have nothing to do, we waste it. Engaging in activities that align us to ourselves and our communities not only makes us “feel good” but it connects us to the Atman or the Jiva; to our Authentic Self.

Personally, I would like to see more doing in the world and less done. Listening to the Spanda Shakti only takes moments a day, but it resonates throughout our lives. I can’t help but wonder – how many of our issues could we resolve if we listened to our authentic voice and rather than say “oh, but I can’t make any money on that” or “yeah, but I’m not very good” or “oh, that was something I when I was a kid” we actually just went for the ride, took that class, got out the paints or simple stood up and shook what our mamma gave us?