Mind It To Mend It

RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR

Mindfulness is about guiding our attention inwards, in the present moment, and relating to the sensations we are feeling, and what thoughts and emotions we’re going through. When diversions occur — a child crying, or TV jabbering, a bird singing, a new recollection surfacing — we just let them go.

The mind is an instrument; it is your inner landscape, where thoughts are overlapping too. When we try to focus our minds on a task, some thoughts come drifting into our mind from time to time, distracting us from our attention. We have a choice: we can react to them, or take the mindful route — that is, we can simply notice them, without judgment, staying in the present moment.

Mindfulness, or smriti, in Sanskrit, changes your sense of who you are in relation to your own life and other people. It also gives us better access to our full potential, particularly in terms of relationships, life and personal goals.

To live more mindfully is to live more abundantly with flexibility. As you expand your self-understanding, you could use this idea as the groundwork for a happy life. When challenges occur, you’ll be less likely to find them overpowering; and, when opportunities arise, you’ll be able to recognise them and welcome them happily into your life.

Mindfulness is meditation — the slowing down of the ‘racy’ processes, in your life. It’s a relaxation mode that will not only nurture greater awareness, but also clarity and acceptance of present‑moment reality.

Imagine a commonplace example. You’re stuck in a major traffic jam. To begin with, you’d have had ‘stiff’ feelings in your mind. How do you react in such a situation?

You’d criticise yourself. “Why did I not leave early?” But, you’d also say: “Let me face it. It was not the best thing that happened. I need to stay calm.”

Maybe, you’d ‘tune’ into good, soulful music, which is always there in your mind’s ears. Or, take a few deep breaths — to relax. Because, getting worked up will only lead to pumping up more adrenaline. It’s not going to make the traffic move. It leads to feelings of anxiety, phobia, excess anger, sleeplessness, depression etc.,

In other words, it has much more to do with how we all think.

As Herodotus, the great historian, put it: “We are not disturbed by things, but by our opinion of things.”

It would be interesting to note that the relationship between brain activity and meditation has been extensively investigated during the last 5-6 decades. The view today is meditation produces a type of relaxation, not necessarily sleep. This is one reason why it has become one of the several ways to teaching people, and patients, how to relax.

It is no surprise that mind research has shown that meditation may not just be a ‘novel’ state of consciousness, but also multi-layered. Dr Daniel ‘Emotional Intelligence’ Goleman, PhD, suggests that behaviours typically called concentration and mindfulness are best described as tools to change one’s awareness of internal, or external, stimuli.

Methods of mindfulness are many, although breathing is one of the most popular forms embraced by most enthusiasts, and experts, worldwide. Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Zen master, called breathing — ‘mouth yoga.’ Because, when we breathe in, we smile. When we smile, we are able to release all our worries, feelings, and negative emotions.

This leads to a moment of being in the present — nothing is more precious than being in the present-moment, fully alive and fully awake.

It is a moment that brings harmony whatever our situation in life.

You don’t have to be a Zen master to learn mindfulness. All you’ve to do is look at situations calmly — like choosing what you’d most likely do in the given circumstance, or responding in the most mindful manner.

This holds the key to turning dull, boring routines into enriching, also worthwhile, experiences. This will, in the process, help you work and [re]focus on the landscapes, sounds and fragrances around you.

The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurthy said, meditation is to change yourself, to be a part of the universe, or cosmos, not to change the world, or people around you.

Practice the following steps for 20-30 minutes every day [one hour+, before, or after food] to help relieve tension, anxiety, and stress.

‘Practice’ indicates repetition [as well as a way of being], and that’s appropriate, since you can only change your mind-set by doing it regularly on a daily basis.

The following is a basic introduction to what mindfulness involves. First relax. When thoughts or emotions come into your mind, while relaxing, be aware of them, but allow them to reside in your mind, and return to your focus and let them go away.

  1. Sit on a chair with a small object in front of you — a cup, mug, or anything you like.
  2. Look closely at the object for a few minutes, taking in everything about it that you can see — don’t touch, or move it. Just think of what it looks like without analysing its charm or value.
  3. Focus on your sensations. Remain still, close your eyes and be aware of any physical sensations — the places your body touches, such as your clothes, or where you feel pressure from the chair.
  4. Spend a few minutes focusing your mind on what you can hear — it might just be the sounds of your breathing, or it might be your neighbour’s TV, or radio, a car, or the roar of an airplane.
  5. Think of what you’ve just experienced. By focusing on the object, on the sensations and the sounds, you’ve given yourself a break from your fixations. This is your source of mental, or mindful, nourishment.

Also, think of this — and, make it a part of your mindfulness practice:

  • Eating ever so slowly while focusing on chewing your food mindfully is meditation
  • Listening to soft, soulful music, likewise, is meditation
  • Writing in a journal is also a form of mindfulness practice – you move away from the clutter of life and the words you write is what you focus on — without thinking of anything else.

As philosopher Plato said, “Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself.” We could, likewise, think of mindfulness in our context today.

This leads to a harmonious state — of self-awareness, or subjective mindfulness, that holds our practical lock and key to objectivity.

When we practice mindfulness, we would be able to hear our ‘echo’ of thoughts, feelings, and expressions. Yet, it boils down to one thing — of letting go and maintaining distance from the object of inquiry and act without assuming knowledge.

This provides us with a mode of living not hurtful to ourselves. This has important effects — the ability to know, or distinguish, as Plato suggested, or connect our aptitude and decode the distinction between the subject and object.

This is what mindfulness, meditation, or ‘walking the soulful talk’ from deep within is all about — of separating the subject and object with the use of amplified mindfulness, self-awareness and calm, including soundless contemplation.

— First published in ThinkWellness360