Don’t you worry. This is not going to be a heavy, philosophical blog. It will be light. And fun. Just come with me on this journey…
But before you read further, I want you to do an exercise. Just take a pad and a pencil. Don’t read further. Just do it offline, on paper. Not only mentally. Write down 2 things that are going well in your life just now. Something which is making you happy, something you are grateful for. Next, write 1 challenge you are facing just now. It could be in your personal life or your professional life. Life is not all hunky dory. We all have challenges. Write the big one in your life just now. Finally, write down something you are looking forward to, something you have worked on and are expecting the result in the future. Title the 2 good things you wrote as Roses. The challenge you wrote as Thorn. And the last one is a Bud…waiting to blossom. Done that? Great. Keep aside your Roses & Thorn & Bud. We will return to it later.
So let us return to our topic: Mindfulness. What is mindfulness? Most simply put mindfulness is just being in the present. Clued in to your body. Experiencing in full what is going on in and around you. Paying full attention to what you are doing, what is happening in your life just now. Aware of where we are, what we are going through. In this moment.
Unfortunately we are used to living in the past or worrying about our future. Our minds are fully invested in this. What happened yesterday? Why he said what he did? Why did she behave like that? OR what do I need to get done tomorrow? What are my commitments? Where do I need to be? with whom? and doing what? Tomorrow occupies our mind. Or yesterday. Never TODAY. Never NOW. Consciously turning my energy to the Present, the Here & Now…simply put, that is MINDFULNESS.
And this mindfulness is a powerful tool to deal with our life. Especially in the Covid19 times of stress and tension. A new powerful mantra : what Eckhardt Tolle had called The Power of Now. This gives us emotional stability and new found confidence. Mindfulness gives us mental clarity even in these times of uncertainty. By focusing on the present, you are not stymied by the monsters of the Past or the demons of the Future. Rather a la Odysseus you can chart your path between the Scylla & Charybdis to emerge victorious.
Today’s Gurus have complicated the simple concept of Mindfulness i.e. Being in the Present. Search and you will find tomes on Mindfulness Meditation. The Zen, Buddhist, Tibetan & Vipassana approaches to be mindful. And the modern gurus of Self Help selling their packaged versions. But shorn of all its rhetoric, Mindfulness is a basic human ability to be fully present and aware of what we are doing and where we are and not be overtly swayed by things around us or over-whelmed by external things. Centering in your mind and being aware is Mindfulness. And even when we are swayed away, mindfulness is there to snap us back into the present, and get us closer to the here and now. Mindfulness helps build mental agility and develop a mind that is focused, curious and creative. It helps to take steps towards a strong mind that is resilient, less prone to interruption and maintains focus. And thus be far more productive and happy than we all are now!
So let us get back to the Rose, Rose, Thorn, Bud exercise you did at the beginning. Tell me , what did you feel as you wrote down the 2 good, happy things in your life which make you feel grateful? Even in the Covid times we all have some good things going in our lives. We all have Roses to be grateful for, if only we look!! And the Thorn? Life is not a bed of Roses anyways. Unto each life some rain must fall. All of us have some challenge or the other. And the challenge or the problem, actually be thankful for it. Problems are a sign that you are alive. You are moving forward. else there would be no problems. We can be thankful for the Rose or blame the bush for the thorns. But there are no roses without the thorns. And yes indeed the Thorns protect our Roses. And finally the Bud. We all have something we look forward to, we have sowed the seeds of efforts, but the flowering is yet to be, But the Bud is a sign that you will soon be rewarded. You will be happy. Something good is on the way.
In my training programs I use the Rose, Rose, Thorn, Bud as an icebreaker. And boy, does the ice get broken!!! People confess they felt good recounting their blessings. They acknowledge that the Book of Life is still positively balanced. There are so many good things happening. ” I still have a job” ” My family is healthy” “My father had Covid but he recovered” ” I had a challenge, but help came my way” So many positives. So many good things to be grateful for. And yes Thorns are there, but once I am aware of the Thorn I have an opportunity to mitigate the risks, think of a strategy, plan actions and overcome. If I look at the positives, then the thorns do not deter me. I know Thorns are an integral part of the Rose experience. And then there is always the Bud to look forward to. ” I will be eligible for a promotion this year” “Post Covid, the business is getting back to normal, slowly, but surely” ” My child has got admission to a foreign university, her life is just taking off” ” The Vaccine is here, we have found a way to fight back”
The Rose, Rose Thorn, Bud is a mindfulness exercise. It focusses us on our present. What is happening in my life now. And just this focus, this investing our mental and physical energy on the present, starts a chain of positivity. Carpe Diem! our ancestors told us. Be in Present….the Hindu philosophy exhorted. A famous quote, sometimes ascribed to Eleanor Roosevelt, goes “ Yesterday is History. Tomorrow is a Mystery. And Today is a Gift. that is why they call it Present”.
Indeed being fully present is the best guarantee for a bright future.
So what are you waiting for? Be Present, Be in the Present. Be Mindful. Mindfulness is not in the head! It is not a special thing that you do!! You do not need to change. Anyone can do it. It is a way of living. Mindfulness is a quality we all already possess. You just have to learn to access it.
Be Mindful, ergo, Be Happy: babavikas