With the entire world being in a locked-down state, maintaining the emotional and physical well being is a major challenge in the world today. Social distancing is new normal now and it will continue till the time the viable vaccine is not available. Without full-fledged physical activity and severely restricted movement, it has taken a major toll on the overall health of people. However, lot of people have changed their lifestyle accordingly to stay fit as much as possible. Thanks to video-based & instruction led sessions on fitness and yoga, a lot of people are able to somehow manage and able to keep them fit physically. For mental health there are various techniques like Yoga, Pranayama, Tai-Chi, meditation, Mindfulness, etc. are available. People do their bit based on their choice, however, it has come to center stage now. I will delve more into Mindfulness here.
What is mindfulness? It sounds a bit tricky. However, one western practitioner has named it “Mindfulness” after going through various ancient Indian scriptures and tried to derive a similar name to the meaning of SATI/ SMRTI/SMRUTI …. There is a lot of ancient Indian concept which has no correct translated English name, Anyway, as long as we understand the subject, the name is immaterial.
When we think of Mind, it is a combination of a few subtle elements. It is an intangible element but controls all the tangible actions in our life. The most powerful element ever created in this world. It is the combination of thoughts, memory, emotions & sensations. A very powerful cocktail. All these powerful elements play their roles in different magnitude, different velocity & varying frequency inside the gray matter of our brain, which is also central control system of our body. The key element of our whole existence which controls what we are, who we are, and what we will be. So there is so much effort and investigation on how to control the holy grail of our life, since the time immemorial.
So, how to control this BEAST? Trillion-dollar question. I am not saying, I have the answer, but I am putting my analysis. There is a few dynamic and static element of this mind. Thought is the dynamic part, very powerful. Moves very fast. But it plays the game on Memory. Emotions and Sensations are the results. Based on this we do all kinds of tangible actions. We can’t erase Memory, as it simply finishes the game. It’s like a football field in the game of football. Emotions and Sensations are the aftereffects. But if we can control the Thought, then we can control the whole phenomenon. If we can control the magnitude, velocity, frequency of thought then we can somehow control it. So the next question, how to control the Thought? A very difficult part. It comes and goes constantly like a wave in the ocean.
Now the next challenge is how to control the Thought? Intoxication is a good tool, Like cocaine and other substances available in the market. However, it will damage our brain and the overall system rather providing temporary happiness. But we need a permanent control. If we analyze deeply the flow of thoughts, there is a deep correlation between our breath and thought. With pleasant thoughts, we get pleasant sensations and our breathing gets slow. With disturbing thoughts the breathing becomes fast. When in fear the breathing becomes very fast, some times half breath is enough to sustain. So we get one tangible element that has a very strong correlation with Thought. Great, let’s work on the Breath so that the thought can be handled. The whole Mindfulness meditation has evolved around the breath. Let’s go deeper into breathing.
I have mentioned that every thought plays the game on a base like memory. With the storage of various memory in our brain various thoughts come and go. There is no proper sequence, sometimes extremely random. We don’t know where the wave is getting generated and as soon as the one wave recedes another wave comes. So, in simple term, a thought needs a base. Now I am planning to change the base. Instead of memory, the new BASE will be my BREATH. Both Breath and Memory are inseparable to us. So the new technique sets the base as “Breath”. Let’s work on it and see the effect.
So we are deeply watching the internal phenomenon of Mind. Let’s follow simple steps.
- Make yourself comfortable by sitting in a calm, quiet, and cool place.
- Keep your spine erect, a must for this practice
- Close your eyes
- Have your hand comfortable on your thigh. A Chin Mudra is preferred. But whatever be the position of your hand, you need to feel comfortable
- Take some deep breath and exhale through the mouth with “HAA” sound
- Then start observing your breath. Try to follow the path of inhalation and exhalation process though the body. Try to feel the inflow and outflow of the air through the nostril. Don’t control it. If the breath is long, let it be long. If the breath is short, let it be short. Just observe the flow. Feel how it enters the body, bulges your tummy, and the goes down. Such a beautiful phenomenon that we take it for granted and never give any attention.
- Within a few seconds/ minutes, you will see the dance of various kinds of thoughts, good, bad, ugly, exciting, depressing just to name a few. It’s like a monkey jumping from one branch to another branch. Some people call it “Monkey Mind”.
- Some people say meditation is boring. But how can it be boring when you see the monkey dance? We need to enjoy the dance. Let’s see it as a viewer not being irritated. The thought will come and go, again come and go. But the intention should be to bring the attention to Breathe, not forcefully, rather with a little nudge. So we will be seeing two phenomena simultaneously, the game of thoughts and flow of breath. Without bothering just keep observing Thought, as it is. After some time you will find the Monkey in the mind is no more jumping so fast. It’s slowing down and slowing down. The attention is getting focused on breath more and more but slowly. The breath is getting longer and longer, slower, and slower. Just keep on observing. If any random thought makes an entry, just observe it. Slowing it will go away. Just keep doing it again and again without bothering, as bothering also another kind of thought. Whatever comes, just observe it, as it is. It is called equanimity, like observing something as it is without any judgment, any thought. Slowly we will feel a hollowness without knowing it.
Emptiness is the true state of our mind. With mindfulness practice, we are able to get to that stage, maybe for a shorter period of time. But with repeated practice, it becomes easier and easier. This is the preliminary stage, but a very powerful one. Any advanced form of Mindfulness depends on this. So we need to practice more and more to ward off so many negative thoughts that derail our life. It brings us to the path of positive thoughts and a keen observer of the happenings around us. The more awakened we are, we will be able to do the right decisions in our life.