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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 8: How to Mind Your Mind

Many people tell me that reading my posts makes them feel they are actually experiencing that which I’m describing. They compliment me on my power of observation and ability to give words to accurately reflect something as it happens. I generally accept that compliment with a graceful ‘thank you’ and then, if they are willing to linger on the topic, I say it isn’t that difficult; they could do it too if they tried.

Today as I sat for a few minutes on the bench in the park after my evening walk, my gaze wandered and settled idly on the apartment complex that loomed in the distance. I noticed a fan running in one of the homes; in another, there were clothes hanging out to dry on a stand in the balcony. Lights were on in some of the houses; other blocks appeared unlighted. I could see someone walking around in another home.

I’m sure many other people may also look at the same apartment complex but not observe all I did. That’s because in their minds, there are other thoughts running in the background. So, they’re not really there in this moment and therefore, the eyes see, but the mind doesn’t register what is being seen. To be able to actually see what is right in front of you requires you to be totally in that moment, totally aware. That is, you need to be mindful.

One of the ways of becoming mindful is to practice what is called as ‘Mindfulness Meditation.’ Lots of information is available on what it is and how it must be done. At its simplest, it involves

1. Sitting silently in a comfortable posture in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed

2. Focusing your mind on your breath as it moves in and out

3. Noticing when your mind wanders away, and gently bringing it back to focus again on the breath

If you start doing this for about 10 minutes once or twice a day, you will gradually notice a quieting of the mind during that time. ‘Gradually’ is a relative term; for some it may be days, for others it may be weeks or even months. Over time, as the mind grows quieter, you realize that you are able to focus on what is happening in the now, because the background noise of mental chatter has reduced.

Along with the actual practice of mindful meditation, there are other things you can do to improve your mindfulness.

· Stop operating on autopilot. Even when you’re doing something you’ve grown used to doing mechanically (like say, brushing your teeth), give the task on hand your undivided attention and do it with mindfulness.

· Unitask at least some of your activities. For example, when you’re drinking tea – only drink tea, don’t read the newspaper or check your phone messages. Focus attention on how the tea’s heat feels on your tongue; feel the aroma tickling your nostrils, notice the taste of it in your mouth.

· Do something creative – singing, playing an instrument, painting, baking, doodling – it will help you focus your mind on one single activity and other thoughts will reduce.

· Spend time with nature on a daily basis – even if it’s something as simple as taking a walk in a park. Notice the different plants, pay attention to how they differ in the colour, shape and arrangement of the leaves.

· Seek out new experiences – watch a play, read a different type of book, talk to someone you don’t know, and while doing all this, ask yourself, "How am I responding to the experience?"

· For a few moments every day, take a look at your feelings in that moment without trying to push it away; give a label to the feeling using different adjectives that indicate a particular nuance. Are you displeased, irritated, annoyed, vexed, angry or enraged?

Coming back to the comment about my being able to observe things, I again repeat – the reason why I notice so much is because I pay attention. Perhaps it is a result of my training during my post-graduation which happens to be in Quality Assurance. While working on the research project at one of the pharma companies, we were trained to observe everything that was happening in the plant. Pertinent points were to be noted and reported. Because it wasn’t always possible to note down everything, I made a habit of storing the information within the brain.

Over time, as my involvement with spiritual practice grew, this took on the form of observing my own emotions with greater clarity. Practice makes perfect. Today, I am able to watch myself watching things and use inputs from both actions to write. It's so simple - you can do it, too.
NaBloPoMo November 2016


  1. I think i'm halfway there. Let me try all your tips and see how it changes me. Thanks so much for this! :)

    1. That's great!That you're halfway there...and that you'll try the others :-) Thank you!


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