Mindfulness

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

22 Replies to “Mindfulness”

  1. “A quiet mind sees solutions, hidden to others” was one of the first quotes I found in Abu which immensely impressed me.

    The challenge is : how to ensure that the mind is quiet? It can happen only when we are able to free ourselves from the events of the past and the concerns of the future. ..

    As one of the images in your blog very succinctly puts: we can be mindful only if the mind is not full ! There is a strong case for ‘unburdening’ the mind!

    If I face a problem now, I should only allow those thoughts which help me solve the problem. Any other thought, of past or of future, is only going to dilute the efforts. It is estimated that about 85% of our thoughts are either negative or wasteful. With this kind of dilution, only 15 % of my mind is used to address the problem on hand!

    This also means that there is a huge potential of making our mind productive ,by reducing at least some part of the 85%!

    A great opportunity to grab for an attentive reader ..or a mindful reader …of your blog!

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    1. JL
      great points, of which I liked the most: A quiet Mind sees solutions, hidden to others. Great insight. And yes normally there is so much clutter and traffic that we are just not able to focus. Mindfulness is about getting that razor sharp focus which can help us …many times we confuse it with flashes of inspiration or brilliance. Actually that is within you always….if only you can quieten the clutter and focus. In Psychology there is a concept of locus of control. Which can be inside or outside. In today’s busy time we keep handing over the locus of control to external events or triggers rather than keeping the locus of control with in us, inside. The earlier we realise this, better can be our life!!

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  2. Thanks again Vikas for one more useful blog featuring essential aspect of human behaviour.

    Your life itself is big lesson which teaches you to be mindful. If you are a hardworking person, it gives you many Roses and many Thorns. Buds get developed based on your passion, family background, education and friends you keep.

    Worry kills and work never kills was the advice given by our Ph.D. guide in 1973. For things that happen beyond your control, you can learn from others and take necessary steps right now but leave result to god/others. Mindfulness rightly teaches you to use your time
    most effectively. Harping on good past record may be a good point for 1st job but for nothing beyond. Thanks again for sharing your creativity on useful human behaviour.

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    1. Dr Kelkar
      Many thanks for your comments.
      I especially loved your PhD guides advice: Worry kills; Work never kills. So true and such a good gem to live by
      If you just pay attention to all the goings on in your life, you can be naturally mindful, Great perspective. Even the Geeta tells you not to spend energy and time worrying about the fruits and results. Karma Yoga is indeed Mindfulness.
      Really got some great new perspectives thanks to your comments.

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  3. “Mindfulness” is the word of 2020. Admittedly it is a powerful tool to overcome the trials and tribulations of this unprecedented year. But no one really tells you how to achieve it – removing distraction and emptying the mind is frankly NOT easy.

    Early this year, I discovered a tool for it – praanayam. Simple breath meditation — paying attention to your inhalations and exhalations — can help you place the focus of your mind on something physical. As your mind becomes quiet you may notice random thoughts arising. If this should happen, gently bring your attention back to your breath. Once your mind is completely calm you can ask your inner self questions you may have. You could find that you will receive clearer answers when your mind has nothing to distract it.

    Meditation allows us to slow down our thoughts enough to listen to the wisdom of our inner guidance. Our minds have specific ideas about right and wrong that cloud our ability to see things clearly and without judgment. By using our breath as a tool to clear away these clouds, we can come across deeper layers of our being that have access to our intuition and spiritual insight. Our breath, then, becomes the key to unlocking our understanding about ourselves and the world around us. Stilling your mind will allow you to access and make use of the unlimited knowledge you have within you today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Neelambari for your detailed comment
      Indeed mindfulness opens many doors inside and outside/ Glad to hear about your regular practice

      Watch your breath was Buddha’s favorite exhortation.
      In fact the whole Vipassana Meditation technique focusses only on that.
      As you said….tough routine to follow. Though I have been to Igatpuri for 4 10-day camps once you come bac to your routine, meditation rigors do not remain except as deep hunger to return

      I do 20 mins TM every day twice and that is the most enjoyable time of my day
      but in some ways I am afraid to take the next step and do more
      sometimes you feel happier to see closed doors rather than open them and follow through

      You take care and stay Safe
      vikas

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  4. Amazing and Insightful write up as always.. Our blogs truly inspires me.
    Rose,Thorn and Bud is an excellent exercise but seems to be similar like SWOT analysis..
    Keep Writing.. Keep Sharing
    Thanks for sharing sir 1🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shakespeare
      yes the RRTB is a simple but powerful way to put us in touch with the present, count our blessings and set a direction
      SWOT does not do it so simply, but finally one can use whatever works for them
      Idea is to be grateful and be in the present
      Thanks for your kind words of encouragement

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  5. Dr Sukhtankar
    Thanks for your comment
    Yes TTRB is a simple exercise but allows you to introspect
    as does SWOT or any other format
    You must just be ready to follow it though

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  6. What a beautiful piece of writing. Sir your writings have always inspired me, motivated me and have always taught me new things. It has always guided me during tough times. Thank u so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Ashay
      every writer finally writes to establish a connect with his readers
      Your words reassure me I am on the right track
      Thanks dear for your words of encouragement

      Like

  7. Dear Sir, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on mindfulness in your usual eloquent manner.
    I am sharing my 2 cents on this topic, if you like.
    To keep it simple, I correlate this with being careful or being respectful.
    I sincerely thank pilots and drivers on completion of each travel.
    Deep down, I thank their mindfulness.
    Applying filter on things that really matter, helps me in cutting the clutter and by & by I become more mindful.
    Am I role modeling mindfulness?
    I often ask this question to myself and stay on course.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nitin well said & well done
      Our lives depend on contributions of so many around us
      it is best to be grateful and recognize all who have contributed to make you what you are
      there are so many unsung heroes in all our lives
      we must take the time to make them central stage
      I salute you on your effort

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  8. Simple yet profound reflections. I liked the exercise. Did it sincerely. And it sure will stick around in my memory for long, keeping me focused on what I look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mimi
      thanks
      Yes it is a simple yet deep exercise
      and yes it will guide you whenever you want
      My plea is to keep revisiting the questions and see your answers change
      that itself will be very meaningfiul

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      1. Thanks a lot for sharing such an excellent thought process.
        Very practical in life.
        I did an exercise of Roses, Thorns and Buds.
        More or less like SWOT analysis.. may not b exactly same but somewhat corollary to that.

        Liked by 1 person

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