A new mantra in the West, but a concept ingrained in all Eastern traditions, mindfulness is the new yoga. There are books been written on mindfulness, seminars and convocations conducted, and larger corporates are warming up to the fact that mindfulness does make a difference to employee happiness and more importantly(in their eyes), productivity.
So what is mindfulness?
Here is a small exercise that you can try out. For today, observe yourself while you go about your day – from when you are in the shower, to when you eat, to even when you read this blog. Observe what you are thinking about as you perform these tasks. if you drive, then be conscious of what you are thinking when you drive, when you see a program on TV – observe again…
Most of us live on auto-mode. We wake up, check our phones, freshen up, have breakfast, work, eat, phone, exercise (hopefully), and sleep. But did you notice how you go about it? When in the shower – we end up thinking about some task at work that needs to be completed, when having breakfast, our eyes are on our phone – checking the news, twitter (and these days, the death count) and social media. When we drive to work, our minds are on that important meeting that is going to happen in a few hours. Oddly enough, if that meeting goes on for long, your mind has already reached home and made plans for the evening..and at that movie – its back to the phone checking news and email, and WhatsApp.
Why are we living in fast forward??
Mindfulness is being in the present moment. As simple as that. Just be present. Not past, not future, but in the present, and experience it fully – with all your senses – see, smell, hear, taste and touch. If you are in the shower, feel the droplets of water as they fall on your skin, smell the fresh soap, hear the sound of the water splashing on and around you…just be there, and in the moment. When driving, look around you, be mindful of the car ahead changing lanes at the last moment, observe that new cafe that may have opened up recently…
And when you are eating? This is an exercise in mindfulness in itself, and the most important of all.
If you are working from home, you have a wonderful opportunity. Three times a day, you can have food at your convenience, in your familiar surroundings, with people you choose to have food with, and NOT at a desk while typing out an email. The food is mostly home-cooked too..All the ingredients for a wonderful experience of eating, rather than a mundane task of feeding yourself.
Sit in a well-lit area – seeing your food is half the battle won.
That’s why Michelin chefs present food so beautifully – to appeal to you visually.
Smell your food – the various aromas that percolate around the plate, and your belly growls in anticipation (that’s your digestive juice ready and waiting for delicious meal)…we Indians eat with our hands, an ancient tradition that allows us to touch our food, thus engaging the senses – take a bite…wait – don’t gulp it down yet. Taste it, chew it…and chew it well. Slowly, for at least 32 times. As they say –
Drink your food, and chew your water…
Spend at least 15 minutes eating your food. With no distractions. No TV, no mobile, and no talk. Involve all your five senses in the experience. Eat deliberately – not automatically.
At first, it may seem boring – after all, you have been used to watching or reading something when ‘completing this task’ – but after some time, you will begin to taste food better. Much better. When you give your food the attention it deserves, you will feel healthier too. After all, this food is what will go on to BECOME YOU. And as far as I know, YOU are important enough to take priority over a random news article, or a client email.
आहार शुद्धौ सत्त्व शुद्धिः
सत्त्व शुद्धौ ध्रुवा स्मृतिः
स्मृति लम्भे सर्व ग्रन्थीनांविप्र मोक्षः ||
If one eats pure food, one’s mind becomes pure. If the mind is pure, one’s memory becomes strong and steady. If the memory is good, one becomes free from all bondages.
Chandogya Upanishad 7.26
Pure food is not just good food, or organic food, or nutritious food – pure food is that which is eaten consciously, which is respected and given full attention – when you eat mindfully, all food, irrespective of the nutritional quotient…BECOMES NOURISHING.
I leave you with today’s message from my feathered friends – I hope you are somewhere close to beginning to understand them:)