Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

by Stacey Ebert / Jun 07, 2021 /
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“I think, in the Western world, we have gotten overly identified with doing, and we’ve kind of forgotten the art of being. And we don’t see value in it; we think that if you’re not doing something all of the time, being very active and producing something, then you’re sort of wasting your time.” - Shakti Gawain

These days, it feels like mastering the art of being busy is a vital skill. While, perhaps, we are presently feeling the motivational drain of a global pandemic and difficulties of world strife, many of us tried to make plans for ourselves as to how to deal with our lockdown or stay at home orders in a productive kind of way. We may never know many took up a new hobby, cleaned out every crevice of their space, learned a new skill, or perhaps joined the zillions taking part in the global bake your own bread movement. Today, many humans—both young and old— are overworked, overscheduled, and overbusy. Somehow the idea of being has taken a backseat to the art of doing. And, while travel can most certainly assist in the shift, how do we work that shift in a time of limited, to no—or very cautious—travel?

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Cultivating the art of being is a skill in its own right. Sometimes, even stating the desire to focus less on doing and more on being garners strange looks, is met by naysayers so often spouting something about laziness, and more often than not leaves the interested party quite literally feeling as if they’re swimming upstream against the current. Turning down that giant gathering to take a meditative walk on the beach can often be met with a questionable glance or negative declaration. Setting that alarm early to savour that cup of something when the whole house is quiet is sometimes met with a confused glare. We may not want to indulge in uncovering the why of all of this miscalculated reasoning, but we certainly can learn to dismiss it and do it anyway.

Sometimes ‘being’ is a form of self-care and well-being. Sometimes it’s specifically necessary to squelch bubbling anxiety. Sometimes it’s part of the life we’ve designed to elicit clarity and help propel us on the path we’ve chosen. And sometimes, it’s about choosing our own happiness over society’s comfort. Naomi Osaka is the latest example of that fierce boundary-setting courage that is utterly vital to today’s world—and yet, even as a badass world elite athlete, while she has been met with much praise from individuals, there has been exceptional pushback from powerful others. Choosing yourself, maintaining your self-worth, and fighting for you are always worth it. Whatever your reason, let’s choose that more often. 

Remember our younger selve’s focus, savouring, and joy? As a young person in the age before mobile phones, we didn’t spend anywhere near as much time on screens. Whatever we did, it was with our full focus, our intentions pure. Perhaps it was creating a masterpiece, giggling at a slumber party, practicing a skill, hanging upside down on the playground, building something, volunteering, devising a plan, blowing bubbles, snuggling a puppy, playing a sport, learning our lines, actively participating in a game of catch...whatever it was, we were fully present, fully engaged, and often either forgot to eat or got home after dark because of it. It’s that which we need to recapture, revisit, and redeploy into our lives. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Whether it’s putting fun back into our lives, encouraging the next generation to take more time to quite literally stop and smell the roses, saying no when it’s hard, putting up those boundaries even to those in our inner circle, or seeking to cultivate an attitude of slowing down, we need this now more than ever. We all have the power to seek to incorporate a multitude of tools into our toolbox; travel is only one of them. For me, savouring travel moments helps. Those times when you were most yourself, most at ease, most curious, most open, most present? That’s where we need to be, and that’s what we need to encourage in our young people. Maybe it’s in the natural elements, maybe it’s with your head down in a creative project, maybe it’s taking time to devour your favourite book, maybe it’s on stage, volunteering, helping a friend, or maybe it’s seeking the help of professionals to help you chart your way.

Whatever you choose, we can all seek to do more things that make us put down our phones! While forest bathing, yoga, meditation, retreats, mountain climbing, and traveling to far beyond places are certainly ways to enhance our being, there are ways to do it right where we are with no more requirements than ourselves. We don’t even need that trusted yoga mat. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Let’s ditch the badge of being busy, and remember that slowing down yields more positive results than we ever expected. We can put ourselves, our wellbeing, and our self care in the forefront of our lives, take those moments, breathe deeply, and just be. We can move forward by moving back towards being. Onward, friends.

Five steps to work on more being than doing

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Sit with it

Stop rushing through everything. We can consciously choose to slow our own roll, activate our attention muscles, and put an end to the idea of chasing every single shiny thing that comes into our peripheral vision. Take those five minutes to actively engage with yourself to focus on your breath. Pause more. While boundary setting isn’t easy, maintaining those boundaries is an effort all its own. It’s not FOMO when you choose it. Whether it’s a mindful walk, a quiet cuppa, an earthing moment, or an hour lying on the ground taking in the brilliant artwork of the sky, sit with it—the power in that moment is epic. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Unplug

Ditch the tech. We all know that technology truly can enrich our lives. Doctors connect globally, a watch can run an EKG, and for the past 16 months, the world has stayed connected through the magic of screens. While the computer in the palm of our hands most definitely makes our lives easier, they are alight with daily attacks on our attention. Apps such as Headspace and Calm enhance our ability to meditate, sleep, and slow, yet our constant addiction to all things tech still makes it more difficult to pull ourselves away and back to the present moment. Take some time each day to unplug. Concentrate that attention, channel that authentic voice, and give your brain the time it needs to rest, reset, and renew. By removing those bells and whistles that fight for our time, we just might find the ability to find our true selves.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Find your focus

Take a suggestion from Ferris Bueller: “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Kids of yesteryear played with the toys of the earth, and spent hours on end crafting, creating, and consciously navigating a world of solving all sorts of problems. Whatever it is that seizes your focus, do that more. Whatever it is that feels like a giant warm hug to your soul, do that more. Whatever you can find yourself fully captivated by that makes you sit up and take notice, fills you with that passionate glow, and brings that authentic you into focus, do that more. Unsnare yourself from the boops, beeps, and dings that continue to pull at our attention. By finding your focus, your authentic self will thrive.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Get outside more

It’s a known fact that fresh air affects positive change to our brains. That feeling you get from spending a bunch of hours outside, that spark of soul, that ‘good tired’, that glittering energy, that fierce focus...that’s what we’re talking about. The neuroscientists’ explanation and research share a similar story. Today, doctors are handing out prescriptions to go outside, documentaries about earthing are making the rounds, and ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, continues to influence people far and wide. The earth gives us life in more ways than we can imagine. Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman character was right about taking off your shoes and wiggling your toes. Its grounding goodness provides positivity in each step. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

Engage your travel brain

Remember those days of travel journeys? Those spots you’ve visited where your worries dissipated, your blood pressure lowered, your curiosity engaged, and heart opened? Visualize those images...where you were, how your senses soared, and how you felt. Place yourself in that surrounding, channel that awe while savouring the memory. All those good brain chemicals activate and elevate. Perhaps, at this moment, physically revisiting that space is out of reach, but imagining yourself there is always available. The sparkling good witch who traveled by bubble reminded us then, and we still channel her now, “you’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Art of Doing Versus Being

 

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

 

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.