A most common problem that people have while following any kind of meditation is that they are not able to find time to do it. Meditation is advertised as a physical process in which we have to sit quietly in a certain position for some time. It is natural to feel awkwardness and futility of such a process when 20 other jobs are pending. I realized this after my daughter was born. I have been an ardent follower of meditation for the past 20 years. I joined the meditation centre as a teenager. And meditation really brought the magic in my life. All the best decisions that I have made in my life can be dedicated to the effect that meditation had on my mind. Also, meditation helped me reconcile with the things that went bad or the mistakes that I made. However, I was stuck with this idea for a very long time that I need to find some quiet space and sit for some time with my eyes closed. And with my daughter, it was next to impossible. Leave alone closing my eyes, I could not even sit in one place for a few minutes. It must have been my inexperience in managing babies that led to my woes. But even with all my inexperience, I would have managed things pretty well if only I were more present. I used to worry endlessly about every other thing, right from finances, the future of the family to the rip in my shirt. If you decide to worry, there is absolutely no dearth of plausible reasons. I would often think that if I am able to meditate all my problems would vanish, but I was not able to do that. Even when my daughter was sleeping, I would fret over what to cook as my daughter was severely underweight. Besides, I took it on myself that since I am at home I should become the wonderful mom and the wonderful wife and the wonder chef etc. etc. I have always been a target oriented person and such people are always able to find some or the other target to fret upon.
For some time, I tried to chuck away the other work and meditate. I thought that this will improve my efficiency and I will be able to do everything quickly. But the impossible load of work that I took on myself did not reduce. In another attempt to find a way, I left meditation completely and started trying to finish the unending house-work. Nothing improved. I was short of time, short of money and full of worry. If I were more mindful at that I time I would have realized what I did realize after I learned mindfulness. I declutter my house, reduced my possessions to the really necessary once, stop collecting trash for some use in the future, and reduced the unnecessary chores. Instantaneously, my life became more manageable, and more importantly, more meaningful since now I was spending more time in things that I loved. All this was only because of mindfulness. But because of mindfulness, I started accepting the right advice that was always present around me.
I was always anxious that the food will be awful, it will take more time, I have so many other things to do. And as a result, the food was always awful, it was never done on time and I was always confused while cooking and ended up redoing my dishes many times over. I believe that I could have finished my cooking in ¼ time than what it actually took me to cook a few years back.
Since childhood, I had a notion that cooking is a very difficult thing. At the time I got married, I hardly cooked anything except instant noodles. Besides, I feel that the discomfort and lack of confidence was the only culprit for all the troubles that I have facing regarding cooking. I always feared some or the other mistake while cooking. Therefore, I had no enthusiasm while cooking. Instead, at the time of cooking, I would always think about all the things that went wrong and that can go wrong in the future. And obviously, my food lacked the attention it deserved; hence it always carried a terrible taste. I am very grateful to my kind and loving husband who ate my highly unpalatable food for so many years, without any complaints!
My cooking transformation started with a habit to listen to motivational videos during cooking. I was finding it very difficult to focus on cooking without thinking something negative. It was a very difficult time as I was facing serious emotional problems at that time. So I decided that instead of thinking something negative while cooking, I would try to focus on some sermons that I liked a lot.
As I started listening to all the inspirational videos, I started to look forward to my cooking time, as it was an opportunity for me to do something that I liked, instead of something that I feared. After a few months, I became more relaxed. There were certainly ups and downs. I would hate anyone to watch me listening to videos or make any remarks because I was already fired up at that time. So I would wake up early morning and cook for the whole day. There were multiple benefits to this approach.
My cooking was done more patiently
My mind was geared up with a motivational speech for the entire day to come.
I would make a new positive resolution each day and try to stick to it.
I was free of frequent cooking the whole day and had more time to play with my daughter or do things that I really loved.
This was the positive spark that stimulated a chain of positive changes. I started reading and listening more often to positive and useful videos. One of my main problems is that my house was always untidy. But while browsing endless videos about cleaning, I found Marie Condo method of decluttering. It was there online all the time, but I was not looking for it. I was able to keep my house clean with hardly any effort. I started registering all the positive things that I did each day. Every day I would read my past entries and they would make me more and more confident.
Since I had more confidence, I started to be more aware of my surroundings instead of cowering into my imaginary world for protection and comfort. This is the first step to mindfulness that I learned. This sequence of events worked for me as sometimes you might be too deep in your woes to have willingness or space to try out anything new. You will have a unique sequence of positivity, just be mindful of the positive signals from the cosmos.
As I became more positive, I became more attentive towards the sermons. The negative voices in my mind became fainter. They are still there but much weaker than before. I became mindful of their triggers. I decided that these thoughts are like advertising links on a website and I can choose not to click on them.
The first step towards mindfulness for me was to avoid fusing my identity with an undesirable thought. For example, if I get a thought “I should throw my trash in a public area”, there are 3 ways in which I can react to it.
- How can I think of such a mean thing?
- It can be done as many others are doing it.
- Dismissed as useless thought
Mindfulness is about choosing the right response. I still struggle to choose the right response. But at least now I know which way I am heading.
If I choose the wrong thought, there will be a current of similar thoughts. It is exactly like the way the internet works. If you view a spiritual video, it will suggest more of them. If you view a porn video, similar suggestions will start floating. And sometimes, similar thoughts can stir your emotions and provoke you to fuse with the thought process. So when you fuse yourself with a thought of anger, you become angry. For example, if you choose to fuse with a thought “all blacks are criminals”, instantaneously your mind will supply you with enough evidence and information confirming the given fact because there is always enough supporting information for all kinds of beliefs.
If I choose a positive thought, for example, “all blacks are kind and generous”, I will be equally at fault. The only difference in this perspective is that previously I would be creating troubles for the black people, but now I am vulnerable to the few wrong black people because of my blind faith in all of them.
Mindfulness helps me to be more in touch with the current reality. In a mindful state, I will be able to get out of my cradle of prejudices and see a person as he is. So I will be cautious of a malignant person, whether black, white or yellow. At the same time, I will respect a benign person, whether young or old and mellow. The mindful state is the ultimate blessing that God can bestow on us.
Gradually, I started noticing my process of cooking without being anxious or nervous. I started getting a better estimate of salt, sugar and other spices. It is still far from being perfect, but now I know it better than before. I could cook faster and better. The food was tastier in general.
With mindful attention, after a few months, I no longer needed sermons to get rid of the negative thoughts. However, I was still anxious about the time I was spending over cooking since I had many other things that needed urgent attention. Mindfulness still helped me here in an incredible way. I was trying to find a fast way to cook elaborate meals. Mindfulness helped me see a clearer and more comprehensive picture. No one needed elaborate 5-course freshly cooked meals in my family. But I took it on myself as an essential criterion for being a good wife. Also, I unconsciously blamed my husband because I assumed that he might want that. In reality, he wanted a simple easily cooked and tasty meal after which we could watch TV together. Dreamlife! Only it appeared too good to be true. Sometimes, we develop strong prejudices as children that might leave us logically handicapped for a lifetime. It took me a long time to accept and absorb that life can be much simpler and pleasant. Fortunately, I am able to see the truth with the help of better observation and more acceptability. The practice of mindfulness really helped me get over this and many other mental blocks that I had in my mind.
And the most important and enabling discovery of all was that I was able to practice mindfulness without closing my eyes in a separate quiet place and specific time. I realized that the only condition for life to proceed smoothly is flexibility with balance. This is a practice which can become as habitual as breathing itself. And the permanent state of mindfulness can elevate us to the level of divinity, just as breathing (potential of an active energy exchange) distinguishes living things from the non-living.
This discovery set me free. Now I could meditate anytime, anywhere and without any physical limitations. The only thing truly required is the willingness to practice. The moment you desire, you are in the state of mindfulness. One of my spiritual teachers Babuji used to say that for spirituality, you just need to turn your head from one side to the other – from material to spiritual direction. And yes, it is really so easy!
So now I don’t think that I don’t have time to meditate or a quiet place or enough resources or a meditation guide. I don’t need time or anything else to meditate. I just need to be ready and I am there.
It might take time and it might require some patience. But it is like an experience of a really good coffee. Once you have it, you will be able to replicate it in your own kitchen after some trial and error. But just keep trying. It is true that troubled people are blessed ones. I kept trying because there was no other way, no other option than to try. And because of the igniting fuel of all the emotional problems I had, I was determined to find a way out.
I have not reached a stage of perfection. I still fall, but now I get up and get going faster than ever before. My growth has become multi-dimensional. After mindfulness, I started better house-keeping, trimmed my work, read multiple motivational books, implemented kaizen and Kanban techniques in personal life etc. Thanks to my husband, we have completely changed to organic vegan food. Now I note in my diary one positive change that I made every day and fortunately, I do have many positive changes to record every day. I suffered to find out that there is no need to suffer. Hope that this book helps you to skip or reduce the unnecessary suffering and open your eyes of wisdom.