In the Beginning
It is amusing that while writing about how “practising” mindfulness and gratitude improve one’s behavioural pattern and personality, my mind drifts to my school days. Taking me back in time when the remark section of my report card was coloured with the following comment- ‘inattentive’ in class. In truth, I was exactly the opposite. If ever the class turned out to be tedious, and I was unable to resonate with what was being taught I would not become listless like other children. Immersed in my thoughts, and imaginations I would move into a shell of my own which was actually much more extensive than the closed classroom. So whenever I tried to meditate it would be like Julia Roberts in the Indian Ashram from the film Eat Pray and Love. I used to be distracted, often looking at the wall clock, it was difficult to remain still in both body and mind.
Yes, I did fail and I started doubting that may be my school teachers were right! Till one of my friends got me acquainted with Mindfulness. Initially, I was sceptical. But an interview of a Neuro Psychiatrist on television changed my mind. His enlightening yet easy explanation about mindfulness provoked me to delve deep and know what is Mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
In simple words, it is about being aware. Being aware of oneself, aware of one’s thoughts, aware of one’s actions. And “ Yes,” it’s a therapeutic method to unwind.
My experiences with Mindfulness
A question often asked is whether mindfulness is some sort of meditation. The answer is yes. We know the benefits of meditation, but for some like me, meditation seems a bit too overwhelming to perform. So it did take me a long while to understand and practice mindfulness. Some more time to include it in my daily regime. Today Mindfulness is comprehensive to me. I am aware of what I am trying to achieve; I am trying to be aware of my surroundings, focusing on my breath and vigilant of my senses. At this point, I would like to stress the word ‘trying,’ yet not too much. Any kind of practice is not easy and comes with its own baggage, which is exactly why practice is a dry run.
But mindfulness is also about having a non-judgemental attitude. The moment we speak the word ‘non-judgemental,’ what comes to our mind is other people. Mindfulness opens a new window within and helps us to learn that we must not be judgemental towards ourselves first, so when my mind drifts while trying to be mindful, I gently bring it back and focus on my breathing without beating myself down, without feeling like a failure. I surrender to the fact that yes my mind had drifted.
Mind over matter
Mindfulness has helped me to accept disappointments with a little less ire. Today disappointment is an experience I observe and try to accept. I have realized that once I stop being judgemental about myself, I am far less judgemental about others, and since I have dropped the chip from my shoulder, it does not matter as much now how people perceive me. I concur that is a sure way to de-stress your life which often runs on the auto-pilot mode.
While practising mindfulness, one absorbs each moment within with all the senses. This encourages acceptance and helps one take charge. I learned that very few things are truly under my control, and my mind could be one of the very few that I can control. Mindfulness can be aided with guided imagery, though I prefer audio. It is important to understand that determination and focus is as important as the attitude of being curious and kind in practising Mindfulness, One can improve mind, body, and soul.
Goodness Gracious me!
Kindness and practising gratitude plays an important role in achieving happiness and are a part of mindfulness. ‘Ark’ (Act of Random Kindness) I came across this term’s usage in the film Evan Almighty starring Steve Carrell as Evan Baxter and Morgan Freeman as God, a fantasy disaster comedy. A random act of kindness does not matter how big or how small; it leads to abundant happiness. One must remember to be kind to oneself; our vulnerability can be our strength. You can maintain a gratitude journal, a thing like a string of good memories to bring back a gleam of hope and confidence in times of despair.
A Reasonable Sequitur
It needs to be mentioned here that I had the first-hand experience while teaching ‘personality development’ in a college amongst other subjects. Most of us have this wrong notion that personality development is all about how you look, are dressed, and speak. A notion that is hard to change, personality develops when you change your life patterns and when you change your outlook and when you decide to be a believer and not a sceptic. I want to assert that any practice be it meditation, exercise, jogging, mindfulness, or gratitude practice, is a choice one makes consciously. They create positive patterns in one’s life. The more you practice, the more you benefit. One may fail to practice it regularly but one must not give up. What you practice is what is present in your life.