He could feel his heart-beat – his anxiety. He was conscious about his scattering attention, his inability to concentrate and effortlessly focus on the subject (of his attention) for more than a few seconds. Meditation in such a situation seemed difficult – one thing that he felt could help him was good content – be it in any form – written text, audio, video – that which could hold his attention to it for a few minutes at the least – that which could help him calm down for a while by being completely involved in it. In spite (and as a result) of being overloaded with information, he yearned for ‘good’ content. It was also not that there wasn’t enough good content; He even knew where to search for it on the internet. It was the mind that just didn’t want to pause and give chance to any kind of content to make its impact. Sorry state of a mind that was not in a state of acceptance.
In the process of knowing a wide range of current issues, I compromised on my depth of understanding a single issue
In the anxiety to finish off a large number of news articles, I compromised on grasping the value of even one article
In the desire to memorize a series of words and facts without grasping their meaning, I lose the capacity to recall them at will
In the habit of keeping all my chrome tabs open, I scatter my precious presence from the task I’m doing
In a hurry to type out this particular piece of writing, I am compromising on the moments I could sit and simply ‘see’ my thoughts and physical movements.
May I practice that witness state, by which I see my fingers type on the keyboard while I remain a witness to this beautiful movement of my fingers.
It’s a beautiful feeling now when everything is happening for the first time.
In a perfect writing down of my stream of consciousness, I feel satisfied that the text in the stanzas has come from past tense to NOW tense.
COPY-PASTED as it is from http://zenhabits.net/toolset/
Thank you Leo Babauta. Couldn’t not have this as a part of my blog.
The focus of my life in recent months has been living mindfully, and while I don’t always remember to do that, I have learned a few things worth sharing.
The first is a mindful life is worth the effort. It’s a life where we awaken from the dream state we’re most often submerged in — the state of having your mind anywhere but the present moment, locked in thoughts about what you’re going to do later, about something someone else said, about something you’re stressing about or angry about. The state of mind where we’re lost in our smartphones and social media.
It’s worth the effort, because being awake means we’re not missing life as we walk through it. Being awake means we’re conscious of what’s going on inside us, as it happens, and so can make more conscious choices rather than acting on our impulses all the time.
The second thing I’ve learned is that we forget. We forget, over and over, to be awake. And that’s OK. Being mindful is a process of forgetting, and then remembering. Repeatedly. Just as breathing is a process of exhaling, and then inhaling, repeatedly.
The third is that mindful living isn’t just one thing. It’s not just meditation. Nor is it just focusing on the sensations around you, right now in this moment. I’ve found mindful living to be a set of very related tools, perhaps all different ways of getting at the same thing, but each useful in its own regard.
I’ll share them in this post, and hope that you’ll consider each in turn.
Why You Should Care
Why bother to spend the time learning these tools? Is it just for some ideal of living a peaceful, stress-free life?
No. A stress-free life doesn’t exist, but these tools will definitely make you more prepared to deal with the stresses that will inevitably come your way.
But just as importantly, they’ll help you overcome the fear of failure and fear of discomfort that’s holding you back, that’s keeping you from making positive changes in your life.
These tools will help you launch your new blog, start a business, write a book, put out your first music album online, find your purpose in life, become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
This is what I’ve found. I’m certain you’ll find these tools just as useful.
This list, of course, is not complete. It’s a collection of things I’ve been learning about, and am still practicing, things I’ve found useful enough to share.
- Meditation. Meditation is where mindful living starts. And it’s not complicated: you can sit still for even just 1 minute a day to start with (work up to 3-5 minutes after a week), and turn your attention to your body and then your breath. Notice when your thoughts wander from your breath, and gently return to the breath. Repeat until the minute is up.
- Be Awake. Meditation is practice for being awake, which is not being in the dream state (mind wandering into a train of thought, getting lost in the online world, thinking about past offenses, stressing about the future, etc.) but being awake to the present, to what is. Being awake is something you can do throughout the day, all the time, if you remember. Remembering is the trick.
- Watch Urges. When I quit smoking in 2005, the most useful tool I learned was watching my urges to smoke. I would sit there and watch the urge rise and fall, until it was gone, without acting on it. It taught me that I am not my urges, that I don’t have to act on my urges, and this helped me change all my other habits. Watch your urge to check email or social media, to eat something sweet or fried, to drink alcohol, to watch TV, to be distracted, to procrastinate. These urges will come and go, and you don’t have to act on them.
- Watch Ideals. We all have ideals, all the time. We have an ideal that our day will go perfectly, that people will be kind and respectful to us, that we will be perfect, that we’ll ace an exam or important meeting, that we’ll never fail. Of course, we know from experience that those ideals are not real, that they don’t come true, that they aren’t realistic. But we still have them, and they cause our stress and fears and grief over something/someone we’ve lost. By letting go of ideals, we can let go of our suffering.
- Accept People & Life As They Are. When I stopped trying to change a loved one, and accepted him for who he was, I was able to just be with him and enjoy my time with him. This acceptance has the same effect for anything you do — accept a co-worker, a child, a spouse, but also accept a “bad” situation, an unpleasant feeling, an annoying sound. When we stop trying to fight the way things are, when we accept what is, we are much more at peace.
- Let Go of Expectations. This is really the same thing as the previous two items, but I’ve found it useful nonetheless. It’s useful to watch your expectations with an upcoming situation, with a new project or business, and see that it’s not real and that it’s causing you stress and disappointment. We cause our own pain, and we can relieve it by letting go of the expectations that are causing it. Toss your expectations into the ocean.
- Become OK with Discomfort. The fear of discomfort is huge — it causes people to be stuck in their old bad habits, to not start the business they want to start, to be stuck in a job they don’t really like, because we tend to stick to the known and comfortable rather than try something unknown and uncomfortable. It’s why many people don’t eat vegetables or exercise, why they eat junk, why they don’t start something new. But we can be OK with discomfort, with practice. Start with things that are a little uncomfortable, and keep expanding your comfort zone.
- Watch Your Resistance. When you try to do something uncomfortable, or try to give up something you like or are used to, you’ll find resistance. But you can just watch the resistance, and be curious about it. Watch your resistance to things that annoy you — a loud sound that interrupts your concentration, for example. It’s not the sound that’s the problem, it’s your resistance to the sound. The same is true of resistance to food we don’t like, to being too cold or hot, to being hungry. The problem isn’t the sensation of the food, cold, heat or hunger — it’s our resistance to them. Watch the resistance, and feel it melt. This resistance, by the way, is why I’m doing my Year of Living Without.
- Be Curious. Too often we are stuck in our ways, and think we know how things should be, how people are. Instead, be curious. Find out. Experiment. Let go of what you think you know. When you start a new project or venture, if you feel the fear of failure, instead of thinking, “Oh no, I’m going to fail” or “Oh no, I don’t know how this will turn out”, try thinking, “Let’s see. Let’s find out.” And then there isn’t the fear of failure, but the joy of being curious and finding out. Learn to be OK with not knowing.
- Be Grateful. We complain about everything. But life is a miracle. Find something to be grateful about in everything you do. Be grateful when you’re doing a new habit, and you’ll stick to it longer. Be grateful when you’re with someone, and you’ll be happier with them. Life is amazing, if you learn to appreciate it.
- Let Go of Control. We often think we control things, but that’s only an illusion. Our obsession with organization and goals and productivity, for example, are rooted in the illusion that we can control life. But life is uncontrollable, and just when we think we have things under control, something unexpected comes up to disrupt everything. And then we’re frustrated because things didn’t go the way we wanted. Instead, practice letting go of control, and learn to flow.
- Be Compassionate. This sounds trite, but compassion for others can change the way you feel about the world, on a day-to-day basis. Andcompassion for yourself is life-changing. These two things need remembering, though, so mindful living is about remembering to be compassionate after you forget.
OK, that seems like a lot to digest and remember, right?
Well, there’s hope. I often forget all of this stuff, but then I remember, and say, “Ah, I was doing it again!” And then I practice again.
And then I forget, but I reflect, and I learn, and I practice again.
This is the process of learning mindfulness. It’s forgetting, and then remembering, again and again.
And it’s worth remembering, again and again.
Below are a few Haiku I had written during the second year of my graduation. I thank my Psychology teacher Ms. Anushka Paul who introduced us to this form of poetry.
Power and money
Did not accompany him
Into his dark grave.
My eyes followed them;
Each of it carried a grain;
The ants reached their hole.
Bird pecks at the bark
Bark is hard; it keeps trying
Just to taste termite.
Spring flower blossoms,
Fly sucks the nectar in full,
It wants nothing more.
He sits eagerly;
Keeps pressing the remote hard,
TV found unplugged!
They call it Social Media Marketing. It just occurred to me if I could call it Social Media Masturbation. I have nothing against Social Media. In fact, it is my daily dal-khichdi. But just like masturbation wastes away our energies in one go, doesn’t social media do the same with our thoughts?
Here is a thought that has come to my mind. Instead of letting it develop further & deeper, I get interrupted by the urge to tweet it away – waste it away! Once I have tweeted it, I’m more interested in seeing if any tweeple replied to it – if anyone ‘liked’ or commented on it – if some angel re-tweeted it. And in this process of anticipating feedback, I get lost in my Facebook / Twitter feed. The actual thought just doesn’t mature. I kill an immature thought by publishing it.
I believe that the more deeper we go within, our need to express dies away. There is nothing relevant to express / communicate. But we don’t let this happen – and social media is only contributing to this – making gratification easy – even for our shallow thoughts.
The urban dictionary gives a slightly different definition for Social Media Masturbation. But I prefer this one: Thoughtless dissipation of half-thought thoughts to enjoy easy gratification.
This short article too is an example of the above mentioned phenomena. Thank you for reading.
The most difficult task you can give a writer is that of writing.
He can think: A writer can think perpetually. He may be walking with his friends or may be in the middle of a crowded room. But his mind is constantly chattering to itself. Sometimes, quality thoughts which can make a wholesome article come to him on the commode. He never puts them down.
He can inspire: A ‘true’ writer inspires others to write. He appreciates others’ writing. Sometimes it is genuine. And often it is just to encourage the other to write more and write better. Nevertheless, he appreciates. But he never writes.
He can edit: When he comes across his friend’s writing, he is quick to make corrections. His intention is purely to improve his friend’s work. The quality of the work may be average. He tries his best to improve it using his own skill. But he never writes.
He can write: But he never does.
If you think you are a writer, here’s some inspiration from your buddy. You may help improve others’ writing with your editing skills. But help yourself too. Please write. We will take care of the ‘Publish’ button.
Below is a small poetry that I wrote as a part of my ‘Creative Writing’ assignment during my college days. The remark that I got on the paper was – ‘Philosophical, but interesting.’ I am yet to figure out what she meant by this. Anyway, here we go…
“Write what others like”
Shouted an eager Mind when I began to write
But that ‘I’ in my mind reasoned,
Why not write what I like?
“Hunger to be acknowledged-”, Answered Mind.
“-How very result oriented have I become!-”Admitted Mind
“-Who works not unless given an incentive or motivation,
Thereby draws no pleasure when work is actually in progression.”
“Derive all your pleasure from the work itself,” says The Bhaagwat,
“For the result is decided by me The Creator of The Bhaagwat”
But who can tame this irrational Mind,
Who expects and often dreams the future results even before starting the work?
“I can tame” – comes a voice from within
Only to find that it is my own mind
Alert and conscious now, wherein,
It can be now said to be in a state divine
“Write anything when you are not confined.”- Says Mind
“Just make sure you enjoy the process-
And in your course hurt not the mankind”-Says the rational Mind
So here I write, write out my mind.