The Enlightening Mat: Doing & Being

Hugo Doing

There is a thought-provoking movie that can be rented on Netflix called The Quantum Activist. It's a documentary about the scientist Dr. Amit Goswami, who comes across as the kindest, gentlest spirit on film.

During the movie, Dr. Goswami explains that when we desire change in our lives, creativity is our best way to explore beyond conditioned behavioral patterns. A key idea proposed by researchers on the subject of human creativity is the importance of balancing doing with being. More specifically, embracing periods of incubation when you just sit on ideas instead of taking action. This period of beingness allows for more possibilities to accumulate so that when you return to doing you have more ideas to choose from; and therefore, increase your chances of reaching the best solution.

Hugo Being

Dr. Goswami calls it Do, Be, Do, Be, Do where you value being as much as doing and weave it into your life in such a way that they work together. This concept reminded me art school when teachers asked me step away from my work and then come back to it after awhile to see something new.

Though I make art in this way, I had never consciously applied it to my life until one day at Bikram yoga, I noticed that the whole second half of the series is based on the concept of doing a posture and then being in dead body pose in between -- a place of complete relaxation. Often times I struggle to relinquish myself over to this pose of complete relaxation as I try to hurry the class along in my head or plan for the day. I'm still doing in my head instead of just allowing my body to be. Savasana or dead body pose may actually be the most difficult posture for most students in the class because from early childhood we are conditioned that doing is something of value while being is often discouraged.

On a very basic physical level Bikram yoga is teaching me how to do and be in the microcosm of the classroom so that I can start balancing doing and being outside in the world. When I noticed this was something to build upon, I began looking for ways to incorporate it into my life. What would it look like? Would I work for a couple hours and then go lay in the grass and look up at the sky? Would I turn off all electronic gadgets at the end of the day and just sit with my cat for awhile? Would I put all my projects away and just spend time listening and laughing with friends?

Doing and being are best buds, and as I learn how unify them in the yoga classroom, my deepest is wish is that this habit will eventually extend out into my daily life in a way that allows for creativity to be the root of everything.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures


  1. I am amazed to see Hugo on a leash.. Our first cat feared the leash... Husband tried his darndest to try and walk William Blake... now, Kalei is afraid of the outdoors, cars, and who knows what else...

  2. Is that a cat on a leash?! Wow! I didn't know that could be done. Is that the first step in 'herding cats?' ;-)

    "Do, Be, Do, Be, Do" Ah yes! That is the perfect explanation for the fallow season concept that I live with. This idea that doing and being are connected, like yin-yang, is really powerful. Because it means that even when you are just being that that is enough. Sometimes I feel that when I am not doing that there is nothing worthwhile happening. You are so wise. And I thank you for sharing that wisdom with us all.
    Enjoy the day, Miss Beth!

  3. Chris, isn't it funny? Hugo, doesn't like the leash, but luckily he tolerates it when we travel so I can walk him around at rest stops. I love that you had a cat named William Blake!! Too cool :)

    Erin, herding cats is a human fantasy! Glad the do, be, do, be, do is something that you can see worth growing in your life. I'll look for you be-ing and do-ing this winter :)

  4. oh, boy do i struggle with this - i often think of something i read that said, 'we are human beings, not human doings'... but in a culture that measures us by what we accomplish, it is struggle... you are completely right of course that we need to contemplative time... i have often solved some kind of dilemma while on my walk, away from the bench or place where the issue was occurring... i am desperately trying to open to this...i know the import - it is putting knowledge into practice that is challenging...
    thanks again -

  5. I had a friend who struggled with savasana. She found it made her anxious to try to put all of her thoughts and cares away. It happens to be my favourite pose and one I get lost in. I love sunning myself like a cat on the back step letting all of my thoughts drift away with only the feeling of the sun on my face and the gentle breeze in my breath. I hope you find the unity you are looking for. Try being a cat :-)

  6. Mary Jane, thanks so much for mentioning how you use your walk. I had forgotten how important this was to me and it does feel like a "being" moment!!

    LeAnn, I just love this vision of you sunning yourself like a cat. This is going to be my new technique in yoga class!! Thank you :)


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