Amid the vast multitude of tasks and huge amounts of information vying for our attention in the present moment, what suffers most is mental wellbeing. Your mind is reeling from overload, with not a moment of balance, not a moment of peaceful contemplation. In the constant battle to master the universe, what we lose out on is achieving the mastery of our own mind. Gurus and sages have forever suggested meditation for unlocking the secrets of the mind and unleashing its true power. But in the rush and bustle of our lives, no one really find time for meditiation.
Happily for us, though, the quest for meditative contemplation needn’t push us to the solitary confines of the Himalayas — nor even take away hours of our preciously allocated time. Meditative mindfuness can be achieved in the humdrum everydayness of our daily life. The benefits of mindfulness meditation stretch from reduced depression and pain to accelerated cognition, increased creativity — and even removing biases from your mind! And it’s far simpler than you’d have thought it to be.
Mindfulness exercises can be carried out whilst doing something as simple as brushing your teeth, or partaking of your daily meal. The idea, here, is not to go through the motions mechanically, all the while prepping yourself for “what comes next”, but to be conscious of the task in the present moment. For instance, by being aware completely of your meal when you’re having it. The textures, the flavour, the temperature, the aroma. You are supposed to focus on all of that, and then on the movements of your hands, your fingers, your lips and your mouth as you’re consuming the food. And when you’re focused on every morsel — the tang on your tongue, the movement of your jaws, the slow sliding of food down your throat —all of that makes eating not just increasingly pleasurable but also intensely sensual. Little moments of bliss in the monotony of everydays.
But over and above that, awareness of every little motion, every little sensation is supposed to heighten your mind’s ability to focus on only one specific moment at a time — sharpening its attentive and cognitive skills.
There are other mindfulness exercises: a walk amid nature is among the best of them — focusing focus on the sunlight, the wind, the clouds, the leaves, the sounds around you. Moving away from the constantly churning mental wheel of deadlines, chores and achievements. Mindful listening is another fascinating recommendation — listening to the sounds around you, the voices and noises, human and non-human. Or perhaps, just listening to a symphony without lyrics, feeling the music and being aware of every note that moves up and down; focusing the consciousness on every lilt and sway.
The easiest and most inward-looking though, is the one where you take a break right in the middle of your work, close your eyes and switch of mentally from your laptops and instruments, and merely revel in the sensations within your own body. Your breath, your heartbeat, the slight tingles of air on your skin. It is the way to complete awareness of your own body, a way to direct your mind from the constant call of the external world and make it fully conscious of the internal.
The idea is to get the mind into a certain rhythm, a certain state of attentiveness that focuses not on outcomes but on sensations, on the present instead of the past or the future. Emptying it of superfluous thoughts; training it to achieve a state where it sheds its barricades. That’s how you enlarge your consciousness and move towards balance.
Zehra Naqvi