By Pulkit Sharma
Our mind has a proclivity to run in multiple directions. Under the different pretexts, it wanders to the past, revelling in happy moments of yore or dissecting some old traumatic memories and alternatively, it hurtles towards an unknown future, weaving pleasurable daydreams or fretting about imaginary catastrophes. These ruminations around ‘what was’ or ‘what will be’ push us in a state of psychological haze and consequently, we neglect what is real – our ‘here and now’. Interestingly, we can neither change what had happened in the past nor can we exercise complete control over what is going to unfold in the future. What we have is just the present moment. Emphasising the immense value of this tiny moment, the Persian poet and astronomer Omar Khayyam had once said, “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
The Buddhist technique of mindfulness can help us in remaining grounded in the present moment. A mindful person is the one who observes his sensations, emotions and thoughts with openness and without any judgment. In other words, he witnesses whatever is unfolding in the here and now without any attachment or aversion. About mindfulness, the Buddha once stated, “Mindfulness, I declare, is all-helpful. All things can be mastered by mindfulness.” By developing this heightened state of awareness, we realise that all aspects of our subjective emotional experience – whether pleasurable or painful – are ephemeral in nature. And consequently, we stop attaching too much significance to the ever-present background noise and mental chatter in our life. The shift in perspective helps us in knowing our mind, transforming our consciousness, achieving liberation from our dysfunctional mental constructs and instils deep peace and luminosity within us.
Developing mindfulness is easy. You can start with putting small reminders in your to-do lists, your smartphones, or your laptops to take small breaks in your daily life, focussing on your breath. Whenever you notice that a thought has driven your attention away from your breath, acknowledge it gently, label it as ‘mental chatter’, and bring your attention back to the breath. It is crucial that you do not judge your thoughts and emotions, neither should you indulge in them and nor should you suppress them. With repeated practice, the breath anchors your attention to the present moment, and you start living mindfully. As a result, you achieve liberation from negative thoughts, emotions and self-perceptions and you stop suffering. So, make a beginning now by concentrating on your breath.
The writer is a clinical psychologist in Puducherry
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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