Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mindfulness - that elusive state of mind




The next time you're sipping on your favourite beverage - tea, coffee, wine, whatever, take this simple test. Try to focus completely on the experience of drinking the beverage. Feel the liquid go into your mouth, feel the taste, the temperature, the consistency. Feel it go down your gullet. See how long you can keep doing this until your mind gets distracted by other thoughts.

I used to think that meditation was something very difficult and boring. Earlier guidance I had received advised focus on the breath without allowing the mind to get distracted. This was a horribly wrong approach to meditation.

I realised later (and I'll get to how in a bit) that meditation is nothing but mindfulness, being present in whatever you are doing. While eating, be present in the exercise of eating. While you're in a meeting, be 100% present in the meeting discussion. Do not think about other things. That way, theoretically you can meditate all the time without making it sound like a chore.

However, if you're like me, you will soon realise how awfully distracted our minds are. When we are drinking tea or coffee, we are thinking about something else. When we eat, our minds jump to one thing after another. When we are having a meeting with someone about something, our mind keeps racing to something else. When we go out to have lunch with family or colleagues, we keep checking our phones.



I started reading about this a few months back when I read an article online. I was introduced to an app called Headspace. There are obviously many other apps as well. I was honestly very surprised when I realised how the mind works. I have been following the ten-minute meditation routine every morning for the last many months and I honestly have had many life-changing experiences due to this.

I am still very, very far from being mindful in daily life. However, I can confidently say that I now at least realise the extent of the problem. A simple thing like drinking some water from a glass can be completely different when we do it being 100% present. For someone like me who is on dialysis, even something so simple can make a huge difference. If I am focussing on the water, I feel much more satiated than if I let my mind wander away to something else (which is the default behaviour for most of us).

I was prompted to write this post when I read this article yesterday. The article gives some tips on how to be more mindful:

  • Practice 10 minutes of mindfulness training each day
  • Avoid reading email first thing in the morning
  • Turn off all notifications
  • Stop multitasking
  • Put it on your calendar
I would strongly recommend that you read this article. I have truly experienced some very blissful moments due to being mindful from time to time. You should, too.

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