After having spent the better part of my life thinking and worrying about what I was thinking, I woke up one day and decided that enough was enough! I was going to turn over a new leaf. Not only was I going to forget about my past regrets and disappointments, I was also not going to think too much about the – what ifs and wonder whats of the future. What I was going to do was, stay focused on the present and enjoy the moments that life had to deliver.
And Mindfulness is all about staying in the present.
I was introduced to the world of Mindfulness by the internet. There is mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful talking, mindful crawling, and so on and so forth. But as I kept trying to chew a piece of raisin for 30 seconds trying to focus on the poor thing that was begging to be swallowed, I realized that this stuff is not for me.
Or for other people either.
I know that the statement is rather condescending but give me a read and I will try to explain what the Buddha probably meant when he was going on about mindfulness.
So, what exactly is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment…which does not exist. And here’s how…
The present, you see, is a part of time, and the most important feature of time is movement. Which also means that time does not stop. Keep aside all the theories of time travel and pay attention to the movement of the planet that we live on. She does not stop rotating or revolving, does she? Hence, the theory that time does not stop, since movement does not.
All right…but what has all of this got to do with being in the present?
Since time is a movement that does not stop, there can be only two types of movement – either forward or backward. Which means, time itself can only have two zones – the past and the future. So, technically speaking, the present is a concept that does not exist.
In other words, the present is an illusion.
Well, you have it wrong. That is not what mindfulness is about…
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the activity on hand. Meaning when we are eating, we think only about eating; or when we are with a group of friends, we think only about the people who are around us. What mindfulness builds, is focus.
And it does this by eliminating unwanted thoughts, or thoughts that could distract us from the activity we are engaged in.
That’s great! Is it not?
Of course, focus is great! Focus is brilliant! Focus is also about paying attention to our priorities. For instance, your focus could be on losing weight; or preparing for your exams; or enjoying a holiday. Whatever be the case, you will achieve your focus because of the intensity of the emotion attached to the activity.
Our brain will automatically code itself to push us towards losing weight on account of a health scare, or a strong desire. The fear of failure will send us into exam preparation mode. The excitement surrounding the holiday will help us relish the moments. The happiness of being among friends will get us into a jolly mood. All we have to do is, attach a strong emotion to our priority, and Bingo! Focus achieved!
The point is, we don’t need to chew a raisin for 30 seconds, blow a bubble, or listen to our breathing, to achieve focus.
So, what is mindfulness all about then?
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment.
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. Present enough to become aware of the consequences of our current actions. To become mindful of our child who has been watching us being glued to the smartphone for the last fifteen minutes; to become mindful of the food that enters our bloodstream; to become mindful of our reactions to our emotions; to become mindful of the late nights that we stay up working; to become mindful of the amount of waste that we dump out every day; to become mindful of the family that surrounds us at the dinner table.
Mindfulness is all about becoming aware of the ripple effect – how loudly our actions of today will echo upon us in the future.
Mindfulness is not about stopping to smell the roses. Mindfulness is all about stopping to keep the roses smelling.
Here’s to being present through our actions!