fbpx

Thriving Mindfully

Tag: Mindfulness (Page 1 of 2)

On finding purpose in life

Imagine a stone age ancestor staring at a luminous galactic spiral in the vistas of the night sky. At some moment, while still years away from development of language, a higher consciousness was awakened in his being, as he asked himself a question that has befuddled the minds of every descendant ever since.

‘What am I here for?’
‘Does life really have any purpose?’

Simple as the question seems, even after all these years, humankind is yet to find a definitive answer to it.

We have unraveled many mysteries of the distant galaxies that our hominid ancestors were fascinated by. But even to this day, as we stare through a telescope at the rings of Saturn, or at a nebulous galaxy cluster lights years away, the same question resurfaces, as if the spectacle of the grandeur of the cosmos serves as a precursor to this elementary existential inquiry.

At this very moment, while a majority of humans that are alive are trying to find the answers to the meaning of existence in their own ways, there is a section of the demographic that exists so deeply in the present that the thought of finding a reason for existence does not ever occur.

Kids have never asked this question!

But the moment they begin to ask this question, they are beyond the cusp of childhood. Most of us reading this are past that phase. And in moments of solitude, especially when confronted with a thing of beauty, or the melancholy that accompanies the realization of our finitude, do we dwell on our existential relevance.

‘Why am I here?’

In the grand scheme of things, most of us do not have an answer to that question.
But should that be a reason to not seek?

Perhaps a change in perspective can come to the rescue.

While in the grand design of the universe, baffled by the perspective of the telescope, as you find yourself to be clueless about the reason for your existence, shift your gaze , re-focus and look at the world through the lens of your eyes, at the immediate world that surrounds you.

Shift your focus from the timelessness of the cosmos to this very fraction of the continuum of time.

In that moment, ask yourself the same question.

‘Why am I here?’

More often than not, you will find a convincing answer. Each living moment, you have a reason to do something. A motivation drives you to be alive and be involved in the world around you.

You could be at home, waiting for a loved one, or chasing your cat around the room to feed her, or wondering about your next work of art. You could be crying because you’ve not come to terms with a loss, or smiling because you heard from a long lost friend, you could be humming your favorite tune, be deeply engrossed in the work that you love best or snuggled up on your couch doing absolutely nothing.

In each of these instances, at the heart of the moment, you find a reason to exist.

Look around and ask yourself,
What am I here for?

Perhaps to be of help, to share your labor, to make someone’s day, to serve with devotion, or to take care of someone you love, perhaps your own self?

Once you reconcile with the unfathomable vastness and the vastness of the unfathomable, and focus on what brings meaning to the present moment, what role you must play in the little world around you, your heart will be reassured with an abiding sense of purpose.

Perhaps true meaning dwells in these little crevices of time, where you must do every little thing you do, with a lot of love.

But don’t shy away from the telescope just yet. For in that moment, as the lenses gather starlight, you are there to be fascinated, just like the stone age ancestor, transfixed by the cyclopean canvas of the cosmos.

My New Year Theme for 2019

It is the first day of 2019 !
Foremost, I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year.

A few days ago, I had shared an idea about why we should aim to have a New Year theme and not a list of resolutions for the New Year.

Following my own advice, I have come up with a year theme for the year 2019.

The theme for this year is :

PUTTING MY BELIEFS TO TEST

On a personal level, I have always felt that the way I lead my life might not always reflect the values I think I have.

Because, a belief has to go through the test of life to become a living value in a person’s character. It is easy to advertise or assume a set of beliefs as our own, but to truly live by them in each moment is a challenge.

For example,
I might believe that Non-Violence should be a philosophy I must adhere to. But in order for it to become a value I live by, I must practice it with great deliberation for years and put it through the test of life.

Each brick in the foundation of my values has to be cured by the kiln of life.

A few beliefs I have at this stage are:

1) TRUST IN THE UNIVERSE

I believe that the Universe has an exquisite design. Each action has a consequence, no matter how oblivious I might be of it. In that light, I believe in doing the best I can with the gift of Life.

Will Karma take care of the rest?

2) NON-DUALITY

I believe all of existence to be One.
We dwell in a cosmic pool of consciousness, infinite in every dimension.
If all of existence is One, whatever I do to someone else, is akin to doing the same thing to myself.

Then, what must I do with my time and my life?

3) CREATING GIFTS AND PRACTICING GIFT ECONOMY

This belief is a natural extension of the two that precede it.
As a human being, I must make the best use of my creative energy and share it with the world. The gift of life must beget more gifts for the world around me.

No matter how much I have, I must always be willing to share.

As rosy as it sounds,
Is there an inherent fairness in this parallel economy?

I will only know when the belief has been through the test of life.

I am mentioning just three of my current beliefs to drive home the point of why I am choosing to put them to test in this New Year.

How shall I do it?

By living mindfully, in practical adherence to all my beliefs.

My beliefs cannot remain cerebral concepts to be availed during discussions with friends. They have to be tested through.

This year I want to have an empirical existence.
Maybe an year is too short a time to test my beliefs.
But it is still a start.

I feel a nervous excitement inside me.
It is a good sign !

Have you thought of a New Year theme yet?
I hope you have.

This is going to be quite a wild ride.

Let the adventure begin !

The Power of Everyday – A transformational exercise

It is the last day of 2018. And it gives me great happiness to share that I have been able to successfully complete my Power of Everyday project for the month of December.

The Power of Everyday is a project I started this year with the aim of learning the impact of consistent, deliberate practice. I would choose a few activities on the first day of a month and would promise myself to practice them every single day of that particular month. At the end of the month, I would reflect on what I learned from the exercise.

After an year of experiments, I can safely say that The Power of Everyday has been the most transformational activity I’ve ever engaged in.
The positive changes were so obvious that my friends also started to take up this challenge and found value in the exercise.

Today, I would like to share a few crucial learnings from this year long exercise and why I recommend you to take up this challenge so highly.

 

1) YOU WILL FINALLY START DOING THINGS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO

 

Let us face it. We don’t even do half of the things we have always dreamt of doing. I am not even talking about big lofty dreams. We fail to do even the most simple of activities that will only do us good, if done consistently.
Even simple lifestyle habits like waking up bright and early, going for a run, engaging yourself creatively, cultivating love and gratitude are hard to inculcate.
Mostly, because we do not have a structure and direction.

The Power of Everyday challenge gives you both the structure and direction to cultivate a positive lifestyle.

I had always wanted to start writing a meaningful blog, practise Yoga and Meditation, Journal every day. But only after I found the structure of the Power of Everyday project did I start doing all of these activities.

If you wish to push yourself to be better and are looking for a framework that would help, The Power of Everyday is what you need.

 

2) YOU WILL REDEFINE WHAT NORMAL MEANS TO YOU

 

A year ago, writing everyday seemed impossible, staying celibate for months on end seemed superhuman, writing with the left hand everyday was a punishment, and practicing Yoga or Meditation everyday felt like an unachievable dream.

But once I started to have these activities as a Power of Everyday project, I cultivated the stamina to do these things day after day. And before I knew, what seemed unachievable got reduced to a natural daily ritual.

At the end of the year, I do all the above mentioned activities naturally, even if they aren’t on my challenge list anymore. Practicing them everyday for a few months redefined what normalcy meant to me.

 

3) IT IS A SELF CREATED POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY PILL

 

Every time that you tick off a day on your calendar after successfully finishing the Power of everyday task you defined for yourself, you will find yourself smiling.
You will naturally feel good about the achievement.
The task, the activity and the appraisal, all three of them, come from within you.
It is a simple way to find daily contentment.

Citing a personal example, I had committed to writing and publishing a blog post every single day in the month of December. It was a daunting challenge. I had no idea if I could come up with that many ideas to share with the world. But everyday that I finished the task, I would tick off that date on the calendar and feel a great sense of contentment.
Today, I will be ticking off the last day of the month.
I couldn’t be happier !

I hope my pitch was convincing enough for you to consider starting a Power of Everyday project for yourself.
If you are wondering what task you should choose, go here and find one that suits you.

For the month of January, I have two tasks lined up for me :

1) Write and Publish a Blog post everyday

2) Sketch/ Paint every day

The first task has been carried over from last month in the interest of making daily writing a ritual.

The second task is to infuse a sense of novelty and imagination with a form of expression I haven’t explored in a long time.

What is your Power of Everyday challenge going to be in January 2019?
Leave a comment below and let us know.
It is a truly transformational exercise.

Let’s do this together !

 

 

A Rhyme for Lola

Little little Lola,
She was sure she knew
That each morning the birds,
Sang a song new,

Everyday they chirrup,
The world they apprise
Of the daily wonder, the gift,
Of a new Sunrise.

To an ear untrained,
The song is clamour
Unintelligible, without any glamour.

And If eyes could truly see,
They would know why
Each sunrise is new,
A painting in the sky.

But Little Lola, wise,
With senses in sync,
With nature she has, a seamless link

So each morning she sings,
She dances along
To the gift of each sunrise,
Of every birdsong.

Picture : Khanh Steven via Unsplash

 

 

A plan for the last week of the year

Fifty one weeks have passed. Today, the sunrise ushered in the final week of 2018.

As the new year is approaching, I find billboards and airwaves brim with the invitation to enjoy, make merry, shop and dance your nights away.
The chorus being drummed up is subconsciously making us all prone to leaning towards consumption and decadence.
But, this blatant and overt invitation by forces of the market might be steering us away from the start of something beautiful.

Here, I would like to suggest an alternative narrative.

What if instead of falling into the trap of consumption, we make a mindful choice of dividing our precious energy reserve into three parts?

The parts are:

a) Contemplation
b) Resolution
c) Celebration

Contemplation :

You have spent 51 weeks of this year.
How was the return of investment of that time? How mindfully did you live? What were you triumphs and failures? What did you learn from either?
Contemplation helps one reflect on his life so far, so that his future decisions serve his growth best.

Resolution :

What would you like to do next year? What do you wish to improve on?
How deliberate can you be about fulfilling your deep held dreams?
Who would you like to help?
How?

Resolution helps you set a clear agenda about what you must do with your precious time so that you get the best return from your investment. It helps build a firm, reason based foundation, one that will help you create value out of your time.

Celebration :

Of course, there should be room for merriment in life. You should celebrate your achievements and failures alike, and share energy with people who you love and care about.

Celebration does not entail consumption.
Find a way to celebrate the last day of the year the way you like best, with the people you adore.

Maybe there’s more fun in cooking together with friends and dancing in your apartment with your pet dog in tow, than partying in a pub where pets aren’t allowed, you can’t control the music and you’re surrounded by people not exactly in their senses.
Let this year’s celebration be more mindful.

The forces of the market are strong. You will feel a gravitation towards consumption. But this time over, I wish you make a reasoned choice.

Follow these three simple steps in that order.

Contemplation
Resolution
Celebration

You will find much more happiness in the exercise than any year end discount deal there is.

Invest the last week of the year wisely.
I hope you find a pen and paper and plan this out for yourself.

I believe you will.

 

 

How to Upgrade your existence

Normal is such a normal word isn’t it?
It refers of all things ordinary, the banal, the commonplace, not showing any deviance from the usual.
It is a word that references itself in its character. Normal.

There is an ubiquity to this word, despite how flavorless it is.
We use this word quite often to refer to the state in our own life. In fact, despite how lacklustre it sounds, we all wish for a ‘normal’ life, don’t we?

There is only one issue with wishing for such a normalcy in life.
It is that, often we seek what’s considered normal on a societal level. We take normal to be something that has met with the tacit agreement of others around us. We do not take a moment to consider and set a benchmark for our own self, of what we want our normal to be!

Let me cite a personal example.

The other day, my father came into my room when I was writing. He was a bit surprised to see me write with my left hand. He’d always remembered me to be right-handed. Since he hadn’t seen me for a long time, he wondered if he had forgotten which was my dominant hand.

Eventually I told him that I had been writing with my left hand everyday for the past 18 months. And now, it felt totally normal to me. I sometimes come to my writing desk and pick up the pen quite instinctively with my left hand.

That’s a normal I worked towards, something I eventually I got used to.

Would it not be best, if we strived to upgrade our ‘normal’ to a more challenging state of being?
Normal doesn’t have be a constant, it needs to have a positive evolutionary slope.

Personally, I am still trying to level up on my normalcy. I am constantly trying to be open in the heart, just as a child, something that doesn’t come naturally to adults. But I am working my way towards making it a normal part of my being.
Likewise there are many other areas where I wish to bring an elevation in my normal state of being. It is an ongoing process that challenges you to grow mindfully.

There is nothing wrong with wishing to lead a normal life, as long as you define what you accept as normal, as long as you choose to push your boundaries and upgrade your normalcy.

The same word, normal, gets invigorated once we choose give it our own definition.

Define your own ‘normal’ and constantly strive for an upgrade in your state of being.
To do that for your evolution, should after all become,
Normal.

On finding equanimity in life

The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind and still have the ability to function.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

We have all experienced that emotion at least once in life when we think that in the grand scheme of things, we don’t really matter.
In the infinity of the cosmos, the constant sourceless flow time, does a speck of a little being that appears and disappears in a flash hold any significance?
Yes, in the bigger picture, even in the observable universe, we don’t even feature as a faint blip on the cosmic radar.
One could thus infer that life is quite pointless, devoid of any meaning.

But wait a moment and think.

 Don’t we also have the opportunity to find meaning for our life for our own self?

We have a finite amount of time to experience our perceptual reality and engage ourselves in something that we find meaningful.

It might not matter in the bigger picture, but in the present moment, what we do with our life and what adds meaning to it matters, doesn’t it?

So how does one find a middle ground while being confronted with apparent pointlessness on one hand and finding meaning on the other?

Here’s where the quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald comes in.

To make peace with pointlessness and meaning, we have to able to hold both ideas in our head at the same time.
And, it can do wonders to your existence.

On one hand, realising our pointlessness in the grand scheme of things will make sure we don’t become egocentric in our perspective.
On the other hand, choosing to find meaning for our own life and living by it will make us more responsible carriers of consciousness.

Once we learn to make peace with both these opposing ideas, of pointlessness and meaning, a certain stoic calm would dawn upon us.
In a way, we will learn when to take life seriously and when to just sit back, accept and laugh at how insignificant we are.

An image conjures up in my mind when I think about making peace with this duality.

Imagine a father and his 5 year old son peering through a telescope at a clear night sky.
The father looks at a minisclue fraction of the cosmos through the lenses and realises how little his existence is.
And then, he looks at his son gazing through the telescope in awe and finds all the meaning in the world to live fully and responsibly. To make the most out of his existence.
In that moment of realization, he’s made peace with his reality.

Perhaps the best way to stay clear of nihilism and egomania, is to understand the duality of pointlessness and meaning,
and live with a solemn awareness of both ideas each living moment.

How does one make peace with these polar   opposite perspectives?

Perhaps, a telescope would help.
Or maybe,
watching your baby fall asleep.

 

 

On slowing down time

An unexamined life is not worth living.’
-Socrates

Do you remember the last time you did something consistently, every single day?

No, I am not talking about the usual tasks like waking up, eating and sleeping.
I am talking about doing something that is a mindful choice that when repeated every day steers you towards betterment.

Something that’s physically, intellectually or emotionally challenging. Something that makes you act, and repeat, with a clear goal in mind, every single day?

There’s a good chance that you don’t remember doing something with such disciple and commitment.

Most of us do not have such a focussed outlook.

And as a result, we fail to examine where we stand and sense if we are improving over time.
Time passes all too quickly, without us having derived all that we could from it.

But there is a way to slow down time, and dwell in each day, and squeeze out most of what we can do with it.

I’d like to share a personal experience at this point.

Ever since I started The Power Of Everyday project this month, I’ve seen a marked difference in my experience of the passage of time.

I have promised myself to write a blog post every single day.

A simple, easy to follow rule.

Once I started to do this everyday, the days have slowed down. It feels as if I’ve been writing every single day forever, while it has just been 11 days this month.
Even in a span of less than a fortnight I could sense an ocean of time.

While in the past, there have been times when I’ve not written and published for months yet, I would feel as if it hadn’t been long since I last wrote.
Time passed all too quickly without me having gotten much out of it.

I would definitely prefer an experience where I derive most out of my time. Wouldn’t you?

A mindful and deliberate act of disciplined creation helps one derive the most out of the continuum of time.

And hence helps one lead an examined life.

If you desire to experience this slowing down of time, to feel a sense of direction and discipline, promise yourself to do a simple task, every single day for a week.

It could be the simplest of the tasks.
But the rules have to be simple and well defined.

10 push-ups everyday for a week?
Reading one page everyday?
Or Writing a page in your journal ?

Take your pick as you like.

But try this one out.

A wise man once told me,

‘Time doesn’t move. We move through it. Time just stands still. Eternally.’

Maybe, by trying to do something every single day, mindfully and deliberately,
we can impede our flow through time,
And grow in ways that we absolutely must.

One thing. Every day. One week.

It’s worth a shot.

 

 

On Inertia and choosing a better Lifestyle design

Kids have a special energy in them.
Once they learn to move about and pick things up, they trasmit bundles and bundles of energy in all that surrounds them.
They’re running all around the park, swaying in swings, throwing around toys, stones and tantrums alike without discrimination.

That special energy is in their ability to lend their power packed inertia to everything they interact with.
Even frail old Grandma gets energised to sing and dance once her grandson is around.

As we grow up, we lose that special power of transmitting our inertia of motion.
Instead, we acquire another trait,
Of succumbing to inertia of objects around us.

Think of that comfortable couch in your house or that workspace which has looked the same for as far back you can remember.
We succumb to the inertia of the couch and assume a similar inertial state of rest and slumber.

In a way kids are at peace because they find a way to equalise their inertial potential with their surroundings.
The inertia of motion.

While adults are also at peace once they’re in that couch because there’s a consonance, an equilibrium in their inertia and their surroundings.
The inertia of rest.

But the peace we find in a state of rest isn’t the best use of our energy.
It comes at the cost of our dynamism.

As responsible adults, we must design oursurroundings better.

Imagine this situation.

In nature, while trekking along a hilly range, where the wind blows fresh, and streams trickle from every cliff, isn’t it easy for most of us to keep walking?
Despite the difficulty of ascending up a hill, we find motivation to keep on moving.

I feel it is because the wind, just as the water around us is in constant flow, in perpetual motion. And we find it easy to embody the inertial motion of our surroundings.

But we don’t live in the hills do we?
A lucky few do, but most of us don’t !

So how do we design an ideal inertial design around us?

At times, when we have limited control over inertia of objects around us, say in an office desk, we can at least make sure that things are always moving.
That work doesn’t stay for too long on our desk and all objects in the vicinity are used constantly.

If you realise you’re not using something in your workspace, do away with it, before the spell of its inertia of rest catches hold of you.
Move things that you can, much like a child, and add a sense of dynamism in your vicinity.

Move things in your context.

And when you’re out of that workspace and ready to unwind, choose a context which calls for motion from your end.
Go walk, run, trek ,swim, sweat in a context that conjures up the latent energy inside you.

Make the context move you.

We embody the inertia of our surroundings just as much as the surroundings embody ours.

A good lifestyle design would constantly call for wise choices from our end.

In choosing our surroundings wisely and fostering inertia of motion in our lives,
The context for a productive life will surely materialize.

Cables of convenience

When water comes to me from a silver tap,
I want it either hot or cold
But if I needed to go fetch water in a pail
Just water would do.

What makes the difference?
Is it the metal pipes?
I wonder.

If food comes to me riding on a scooter,
I want it to taste just right,
But if I had to cook myself,
A simple stir fry would do.

What makes the difference?
Is it convenience on discount?
I wonder.

If entertainment comes to me riding on waves,
I want it tailored just right,
But if I’m in the countryside
I just need a street play or the clear sky of the night.

What makes the difference?
Is it the fiber optic cables?
I wonder.

When electricity comes to me breezing from a tube,
Days aren’t long enough, even if lights makes a day of the night,
While in the wilderness, with two bulbs in the sky, the length of each day is always just right.

What makes the difference?
Is it the black cables dangling overhead?
I wonder.

What makes the difference,
What doesn’t enable but un-ables?
Is it the waves in the air, the pipes and
All those cables?

Now I understand,
It took me a while,
All cables make me hungry and immobile.

I observe, learn and understand bit by bit,
Each cable of transmission attenuates the value of what flows in it.

A resource no matter how replete,
My wants can easily deplete,
Partake in need, it makes sense complete,
And easily shall my ends meet.

In moderation, and minimalism
Does lay all the sense
I realise the path that I should tread hence,
Do away with all wants,
And all pretence,
And not be a puppet tied to,
Cables of convenience.

« Older posts