An old man was teaching his grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he told the young boy, “a fight between two wolves.
One is evil, full of anger, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity and false pride.
The other is good, full of joy, peace, love, humility, kindness and faith.”
“This same fight is going on inside of every other person on the face of this earth.”
The grandson ponders this for a moment and then asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
The old man smiled and simply said, “The one you feed.”
Whenever I fell into a whirl of bad feelings I remember this story, check my emotions and start feeding the good wolf. Start feeding mindfully
But what is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is... well... sorry I couldn’t come up with complex-looking definition, though I tried a lot on Google
So, my definition of mindfulness is doing an activity with your full mind to it.
Not very intelligent but it works amazingly.
Think of it as doing something consciously.
You are eating while watching TV, is your mind fully into eating (or for that matter even into watching TV)?
No! So, you were not being mindful
Mindfulness is equally valid for shopping, after all, “Buying fifteen pair of trousers is ten too many” – this means you were not conscious while shopping. Maybe your thoughts were wandering into latest dress worn by celebrity and then you thought about too many celebrities and ended up purchasing lot of dresses. Or maybe your thoughts were triggered by enticing discount tags. Or maybe by next season shopping.
And it is not restricted to activities only, equally valid for emotions as well.
Care for someone? But are you mindful of it? Did you wish them well, even if they were absent? Have you called them or talked to them or think of them? When was the last time you called your best friend instead of pinging him?
So, mindfulness is not about being Zen or becoming a Buddhist monk, it’s for us – pretty powerful if practised regularly
If you want to go deeper into “What is Mindfulness” then you can read these books – Mindfulness in Plain English, Wherever You Go, There You Are and The Miracle of Mindfulness
And in near future, I’ll also cover this topic in detail. Today’s post is about “How” to practice it
Just because everything is crazy around you, doesn’t mean it has to be crazy within you
9 exercises which will teach you Mindfulness –
Have a meaningful morning routine – Stop checking social notifications, reading work emails or worrying about the business. Let me tell you the secret – The world will still rotate even if you will stop all these activities. Instead make a sacred morning routine, where only YOU are present. Doing things like
- Meditation or prayer (2-3 min) – It helped me become calmer
- Preparing your tea or Coffee (5 min) – Smell the aroma, study the colour of the drink, see how it changes, feel the heat while drinking it. (I do this as part of my routine but during my office time and it helped me getting separated from workplace tensions for a while)
- While taking shower feel the water on your skin, smell the soap and how your hair gets smoothed by the comb
Mindful Driving – While driving, notice the road – the bumps, the fellow drivers, how your speed varies, where light signals are, which shortcuts people are taking in, is everything fine with your vehicle, is gas adequate
Mindful walking – This one is easier than driving where instead of thinking about life issues & anxieties, think of nature. Enjoy the colour of flowers, the structure of trees, the complexity of leaves, the greenery of parks, the noise of children playing, light of stars – Never take these things & nature for granted. You never know when all of this will vanish
Write your thoughts – Here you can scribble lot many things - your emotions, anxieties, reflection on the day, gratitude for things or new ideas (I do this exercise in the night before sleeping as reflection journal)
Be in the moment – In the past I was guilty of not present in the moment and between two of us, I am still guilty of it. It’s a most beneficial and toughest hack to follow. Start small, maybe drink a glass of water, tea or coffee with full concentration. One conversation a day with full conversation into it and one meal a day with full devotion to it. No calls, no TV, no side-talks
Change your phone wallpaper – With the amount of time we are spending on phone, it makes sense to alter our phone wallpaper to connect it to our objective (which is becoming mindful here)
Now this hack can work for you really well, but if you don’t spend much time on the phone or work in flight mode (like I do) this won’t work much. Nonetheless, it will be a good reminder of your objective
Set reminder – By taking three deep breaths we can be mindful of our own state. I learnt this hack from Chade-Meng Tan. But these should be mindful breaths which means no side-thoughts. So set up a daily reminder of three breaths and feel the accomplishment of doing it
Wishing a nice day to someone – Another hack which I learnt from Tan’s book Joy on Demand is to send a silent wish for someone known (in the beginning) and then the stranger. Maybe you are sitting at your desk in the workplace and you thought of this hack, so silently wish for a colleague to have a nice day
Memento Mori – The stoic practice of reflection on morality, a crux of which is death is inevitable. I know, it’s a grim thought, but a very powerful one. Imagine the person you are talking to might not be there until next conversation – so pay attention to the conversation. The food you have today might not be there, the education you are taking might not be freely available. So be present in the moment because you don’t know how long it will last.
Some additional exercises can be found here – 7 exercises of Joy
Let me know which ones you practised and how did it go