Mindful Fear

One thought can erase the effect of another. Fear is one strong thought that can numb other thoughts. And fear works for almost all of us. We all fear something or the other. Initially, many of us might face problems with the implementation of mindfulness. And fear can be a good tool to become more mindful of what you are doing if have more of the fear factor in your mind.

Fear mostly affects us in a negative manner. We don’t start things or continue them because we fear failure to perform. Actually, I am writing a book on mindfulness more for my own reference in future, because I have failed so many times, that I have become really good at getting back on my feet after falling. And I hope that in the future, I will be able to practice mindfulness for a longer duration than a few minutes at a time. But these few minutes have such a blissful impact that they can help us keep going in any kind of situation.

The fear factor has worked for me in some cases. I am not talking about an absolute state of panic. But a small amount of fear, that amount which prevents you from driving the wrong side of the road or telling small white lies etc. That amount of fear can bring a lot of difference in the way we think and act, that too in a positive way. 

A mindful person can foresee things going wrong and that’s the best time to correct them. For example, as I see myself thinking something negative while cooking, I fear that I am infusing the same thoughts in the food, with in turn be transferred to my family members eating it. So, while cooking I immediately correct my thinking, at least when I am putting any ingredient in the cooking vessel on fire. Whenever I am cleaning or dusting something, I become conscious of what I am thinking, because it looks like I am smearing that object with the same thought and it better not be a negative one. Thoughts are all around us and they create the entire environment of the positivity or negativity. That’s the reason why things touched by saints are sacred and places of worship have a peaceful environment.  

This somehow came naturally to me and it might work for someone who is more prone to fear than to other negative emotions like anger or greed. I believe that the so-called negative emotions are just emotions and can be harnessed for personal betterment. They can be treated like medicines that should not be consumed as food(in large amount) when hungry(have a vacuum in the mind) but works in a small amount to help cure diseases.

For example a lot of fear before the exam can lead to mental blockage and a big zero in the exams, however a little anxiety can save you from the little mistakes made under the influence of over-confidence.

A complete absence of fear is unnatural in humans. Excess fear is pathological. Therefore, probably we don’t need to become fearless. A person with absolutely no fear can turn himself into a monster. We can regulate the fear and use it as a signal for self-protection, and not allow it to numb us into inactivity.

Imagine that you are an human inhabitant of an ecologically ruined planet and have landed on earth at night. You have no plants, no animals on your planet. Suddenly, you hear a strange sound in the dark, something that you have never heard before. Something strange touches you and you start running for your dear life. Unfortunately, the strange thing also starts to run after you. To your horror, you discover that this thing can run faster than you, can see in the dark and has piercing shining eyes!!!

You might be already dead even before this thing reaches you, just out of fear. There is no need for the scary thing to do anything! Fear will kill you.

But in case you survive to see the strange thing, you might see a dog for the first time in your life. And dogs are loving creatures. If you survive the fear evoked from barking and let out something nice to eat, you might get a most trust-worthy friend on the earth.

You can reach the happy ending, only if you are not dead out of fear already. Little fear for survival can help you think fast, it can help you think out of box, it can help you observe things more keenly and try out things that you would never have dreamt of doing in your entire life!

So fear can be good, as good as excitement, confidence and other virtues. But in the amount proportional to the amount of salt in the food, not more, not less

Om shanti shanti shanti!

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On Road Mindfulness

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Most of us drive vehicles almost every day. Even if we are not actually driving, we travel sometimes in situations when it is not possible to read or do some other work. These are the small holes in the consciousness when past memories, or experiences, esp. the painful ones, seep in our mind and grab our attention. Normally we are not unhappy, sad or hyperemotional when we are engaged. These emotions are prevalent only when we have nothing to focus our attention to. But if we are completely focused on the present, we will not have any space for these residual thoughts.

Now driving needs so much attention. You need to be careful and alert all the time and this compulsion can create stress of conflict when your mind wants to focus on something else. We feel stressed only when we feel out of control when there are too many things to handle together. When we are worried or anxious, this need for attention on driving a vehicle has an additional taxing effect on the mind. Driving, esp. on busy roads or during the traffic jams can be even more stressful. This is the reason why many people prefer to get driven to work rather drive themselves if they can afford it.
It is a well-known truth that most of the accidents happen because of carelessness or due to a lack of focus.

Mental chatter takes over while driving because driving again is a process that can be done automatically. So there is an opportunity for the mind to start its chatter. And most of the time this chatter arises from negative feelings. We constantly try to find a solution to our problems by constant churning of thoughts in our minds. This churning eventually deepens our impressions. No solution comes out of such churning. A phase in Tulsidas Ramayana says “You cannot get butter by churning water”. Thus all this effort is wasted. This failure ignites anger and turns on the negative thought process. Therefore, there is a huge possibility that this anger will turn into road rage if any suitable condition arises. Mindfulness is an indispensable tool for road safety for us and for the others. 

Another evil of driving, road rage is a complete absence of awareness. It is when the animalistic emotions take charge of our actions. However, no gross emotion like anger, grief, obsession can take control of our mental faculty.

Mindfulness is about seeing things as they are. This practice is helpful for both a normal person and as well as for a person with some phobia associated with roads or traffic. This type of mindfulness is also helpful in recovering from some kind of emotional shock or trauma regarding a terrible road accident.

I have a personal experience related to driving mindfulness. It can be called be better called an accident mindfulness J

I used to have Luna, a very old model of a two-wheeler when I was in school. I used to be constantly absorbed in thoughts almost all the time of the day, even while driving. It was a bad time, my father expired recently and I used to be very worried about an entrance exam that I was aiming at. I desperately wanted to pass the exam to make my mom feel happy. However, I really hated studying most of the subjects. And so I used to be stressed all the time. When I look back at the way I used to drive as a student, I am able to understand that miracles do happen; otherwise, I won’t be alive today.

One day, as I was driving recklessly as usual. I don’t remember what exactly happened before the accidents. That road used to be full of dogs so most probably some dogs or something else came in front of my bike. I must have been driving at a high speed. I used the front brakes to stop the bike and the rear wheels went up in the air, throwing me in the air (I used to be very thin and underweight). And suddenly I was flying! It was a moment that I remember vividly. I can still feel that moment. I felt as if I could change anything at that moment, in fact, everything will happen according to me. I could hear the whizzing of my bike, the rushing air, and all sorts of sounds and still, it was all very quiet as if this realm of sound is a very small piece of a huge existence. That moment felt like never-ending. I did not feel fear or joy, or anything at all. I was not numbed with shock. I actually felt and still remember each and every detail, as if it is all happening right now. I feel on the divider of the road on my back. I should have fallen on my head. I remember one of my acquaintances had a similar accident. She hit the road divider hard and broke both her legs.  I don’t know how I was able to turn in the air. I did fall on the divider but fell on the muddy part. Only the end of my backbone hit the hard cemented border and it did pain for a few days. 

Since that accident, I have never had any fear of accidents. Nor do I get angry or anxious during a long wait on a jammed road. 

We see in movies or animation how ninjas are able to jump from a mountain and land safely on the ground. Or walk on trees as if they are walking on the hard ground. Or jump long distances or even fly in the air! Now I think that it is all possible. With mindfulness, you can enter into the control room of nature and make the laws of nature work your ways.

How to practice driving mindfulness.

In On-road mindfulness, we can have 2 situations – one when we are driving a vehicle, another when we are sitting in a vehicle and have absolutely nothing to do. 

Like all mindfulness practices, here I am providing a set of standard rituals for driving mindfulness. However, mindfulness is a completely personalized experience and I hope that these basics can help you find your own way eventually.

The steps described below are akin to a staircase for reaching an understanding of driving mindfulness. It also helps us to understand that mindfulness can become as natural to us as breathing. We breathe all the time and do not have to set aside some time for it, like the way we do it for meditation.

Driving Mindfulness

Be aware of your hands turning the keys of your car. Feel the steel touch of the keys. Consciously hear the starting sound of the car. Observe if it is different from other days.

Feel your hands on the steering wheel.

Observe carefully what is in front of you without thinking anything good or bad about it. It is unnatural to suppress thoughts, however, you can be so focused that the thoughts don’t grab your complete attention.

Feel the car and your body moving to different directions as you start driving.

Feel the air moving inside the car (if the windows are not closed)

If you are too engrossed in useless thoughts or are feeling negative, try listening to your favorite music (preferably light and positive music).

If you are mentally relaxed, try not to put on the music and just be aware of everything around you.

Feel the metallic keys as you stop the car. Feel the subtle push forward as you stop your car.

The mind is like a servant who behaves the way he is trained. If you have trained your mind to think without any objective, then it will keep doing so. In the process, it will drain your energy. Let us take the example of a friend who talks incessantly. If you continue to hear his blabbering, it increases in volume. But if you treat his endless chatter like an uninvited conversation and stop paying attention to it, gradually the chatter dies away.    

Initially, you will start noticing objects and your mind will present you with unrequired thoughts and ideas.

For example, if you happen to pass by a beautiful woman wearing a hot red dress, your mind can give you thousands of thoughts about her. But if you just notice the chatter without doing anything about it, it will end. There is a huge difference between noticing and paying attention. When we listen to a toddler blabbering or a car engine starting, we just notice the sounds produced. We just acknowledge their presence without actually doing anything about them. We don’t respond to them in any way, neither do we think about the sound of the baby or the car engine, unless there is something really peculiar about them. But when we are in a business meeting, we are actually paying attention. We consciously retain and mentally process all suitable information that we come across.

“Vivek” or discretion to choose the rights things to process is the process as well as the incidental result of mindfulness. Through mindfulness, we are telling our mind that there is no need to process everything. We can choose what we want our mind to process. Thus ‘Vivek” is a mental scanning process that accumulates useful information for the mind to process. And it can happen only in the space provided by mindfulness. 

Such “Vivek” is a 100% protection against any kind of accidents because there is always a way to avoid them. With mindful driving, you would connect with the cosmos and always know the right thing to do, under any circumstances.

It is not a great idea to expect instant mindful experience when you are a beginner. It is natural that above mentioned is the exact situation when you will need mindfulness the most! But let us treat mindfulness like a tree. You cannot expect fruits immediately after sowing the seeds. So let us not allow this tender seedling to wither away in hot and dry conditions. Gradually, as you sharpen your tool of mindfulness, you will be able to experience mental normalcy in the most drastic situations. Therefore, if you are just out of a hot business debate in a disturbed or angry mood and driving back home, it is better to cool down with light music or jokes, rather than trying to apply mindfulness.

Mindful Traveling

This is a situation when you are not exactly driving a medium of transport but are being transported, for example, a train or a bus journey. There can be situations when you don’t have anything to do. Instead of too much use of electronic gadgets like mobile phones, laptops etc. on such long journeys; you can try to practice traveling mindfulness.

The following steps can help you to get a glimpse of traveling mindfulness. In the end, mindfulness is mindfulness, whether it is applied during traveling, sleeping or eating!

Feel your movement as you move inside a train or a bus.

Notice yourself walking towards your seat, parking your luggage and getting seated. It can be a haphazard or relaxed process.

Observe yourself seated in your place.

The most important factor in mindfulness is that we don’t have to focus our attention on something outside. We have to treat ourselves as a part of the whole and try to mindfully observe the whole!

Some people face travel anxiety. They fear the travel, about turning off the lights in the house, about forgetting important things on the journey, about losing things. They might be suffering from travel anxiety. They might also fear fatal accidents. These fears spring not from the immediate reality but from some deep-seated prejudices or disturbing past experiences. But if you are connected with your present moment, such useless thoughts or emotions will fail to grab your attention.

With the constant practice of mindfulness, you will observe yourself in a relaxed and unhurried mode while traveling. You will fail to forget important things to keep like the train tickets or to switch off the electronic appliances or to make important phone calls before traveling and so on and so forth. You will be able to apply a travel plan almost up to 100% in real life!  

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Mindful Cleaning for Mom and Child

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Cleaning Mindfulness for the new moms

I would like to share my personal experience as a new mom. I did not see very small children being brought up from close quarters. So I had a faint idea that child care might be problematic but it was much more than I could ever imagine. My daughter had feeding problems initially. All I could do was to see her cry with bloating. I tried everything – hot compress, herbal remedies, allopathic medicines, but 3 months were complete hell for me and my little princess. Sometimes, I was so depressed that we used to cry together and there used to be no one at home. There were times, when I would keep wiping the floor, keeping washing and drying the clothes, and keep cooking, because I didn’t know what to cook so that my daughter would eat it willingly. My daughter was actually underweight; however, it is a common problem with new moms that they are always anxious about the well-being of their children. The obsession to be a “good mom” and provide the best possible for the baby, is quite prevalent in first-time moms.  And I can safely say that this can trigger a deep sense of failure and depression – postpartum depression. Even while writing this, I am filled with a deep sense of regret that my daughter suffered all that in spite of all my efforts. This is good enough to push someone in a bout of depression. Thankfully, I have learned to be mindful about it!

Therefore I personally believe that new moms must equip themselves with mindfulness training with a special focus on cleaning mindfulness because they might find themselves doing that most of the time. It is extremely important to be mindful during the cleaning process – otherwise many such ideas like

I am good enough for doing this only

This is all I have now in my life

I am not able to give enough time to the baby because of the chores

No one cares to help me etc. etc.

– might pop up in the mind and continue to grow.  So it is important to be mindful of the passing moment and try not to judge the entire life on the basis of a phase of life. It takes a lot of patience to see the whole picture and most of us might lack that.  

Mindful Cleaning for Children

This is the reason mindful cleaning should be taught to children. Mindful children will not fumble for things that should be done. They will not be confused between the right and wrong choices. They will not waste their time on meaningless deviations and save the precious years of their lives. 

Mindful cleaning for children must start with decluttering. Every child should be taught to decide how many toys he/she actually wants to keep. This is common knowledge that children normally do not play with more than 10 toys at a time. You might be hoarding a lot of toys because your child might play with it someday. But let me tell you, that day might never come. So it is a better idea to teach your child to choose carefully what she wants to keep. And let her donate the unwanted toys to some charitable organization. This act of choosing will make her aware of many things. First, she will know what she loves best, it is a rare knowledge. Most of us grow into confused adults as we never face such choices day in and day out. Our lives become overwhelmed with confusing options just like the heap of unwanted toys that we never decided to do away with. Children learn that there is limited room, as there is limited time in life. And it is important to choose the best and keep it, instead of hoarding all unwanted stuff which will hide the things that you really love.

Once the best-loved toys are selected, it becomes easier to get children to clean as picking a few toys from the floor is not a daunting task. Besides, children can be made aware that if they do not choose to pick up a toy, it will be considered that they don’t need it and the toy will be taken away. This is another level of awareness, where after a point in time the child will lose interest in a particular toy and will not choose to spent time on managing it. This also makes the toy storage area a constantly changing and exciting place, where the child will find only his favorite toys and not a heap of junk. These children, as they grow up, will be freer, more flexible and open in their approach towards life. They will not get stuck with any specific thing, person or experience. They will not spend their life trying to hoard things or money. They will be able to mindful clean all aspects of their lives.

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How Language Traps!

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One of the magical discoveries of mind is language. It is a gift that makes us human, above animals The language that we have developed has helped us in a great way. Human civilization reached such heights because of the language. Language is the tool by which our mind translates feelings into thoughts.

For rational thinking, we need to communicate with our own mind, and here, language becomes a great tool. For example, if you have to think about a scientific experiment, you cannot work without language.

However, this language can be the biggest trap for us when we combine it with emotions. Emotions make things right or wrong, doable or undoable, wanted or unwanted.

And stormy emotional wiring can completely cloud the rational observation. So, basically, it is not about right or wrong; it is about being able to see or not able to see the whole picture.
And that’s how the language traps. And this is true for all languages.

How Language Traps
A language is a tool for evaluation. The mind is constantly evaluating everything and forming conclusions for our handy-use. For example, when you see a snake, the mind can conclude that you are in a dangerous situation.

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However, if you have a massive pile of emotions connected with snake, or death, you might die of a heart attack even before the snake moves, Because the language in our mind overwhelms us with all the possibilities and emotions associated with death.

Your fear of death can even cloud the capacity of your senses. What if it is just a rope that looks like a snake! You can see it only if you are in a sane state of mind.

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The key of mindfulness is to develop an attitude of friendly curiosity, interest, and acceptance of all observed facts, just like a baby. A baby might not be scared of a snake, even a lion! However, some of us might get scared even if we see a snake online. This story is just a small example of self-made language traps that we face every day.

Judging the situation is not a problem, however fusing yourself with a thought invites all the emotions related to that thought. For example, say to yourself – I am going to die. Now suppose you are an African tribal who does not know English and he just repeats the verbatim “I am going to die,” he will feel nothing because he has no thoughts to associate with this sentence. But if he says the same thing in his own language, he will have certain emotions reaction to the meaning of this sentence.

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Now, if you say “I am going to die,” the moment you fuse yourself with this thought, you will feel a vast range of emotions connected with this thought, which is justified. But mindfulness reminds us that IT IS JUST A THOUGHT! NOT A FACT.

If a motivational teacher tells you to say “I am going to have a great day,” to yourself, you will not feel great if you do not associate yourself with the related feelings. That’s where most of the motivational courses fail. It happens because here you know that it is just a thought.

Now being positive has its own loopholes, because it is one side of the coin. When you are positive, you carry an inevitable possibility of turning negative. We can try to stay positive for most of the times. But in this way, we just go rotating from the positive to negative, just like a coin. I would say that negative thinking is rather relaxing ; it is as natural and spontaneous as rolling down a hill.

Positive thinking is more like an uphill climb. This artifice is the reason why, after some time, people get really tired of positive thinking. You see, the problem is not the direction; it is the gravity!!! If there is no gravity, it does not matter in which direction you climb; it is all effortlessness!!!
Here I can compare the emotional load to gravity. I have to keep thinking positive because there are lots of negative programs running at the background in my mind.

Have you ever tried working on a terrible internet connection? You cannot open too many windows or perform too many actions at the same time. If you do, the computer becomes super slow. I was not aware of why my laptop was always so slow. Later I found that I have a lot of unrequired programs running in the background. And after I close all of them, my laptop appeared as good as a supercomputer.

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I believe that we have to think positive, just to balance all the negative emotions running in our subconscious. And we have to keep trying harder. Now, let’s imagine that you have lots of unwanted programs running in the background. What is the real solution? To shut them down or to start opening more and more windows, make more effort to work!

I often used to do this earlier. Because one window was too slow to open, I would open another one, so that I will be able to compensate the time lost!!!! Super crazy, isn’t it? In this way, I was just increasing my problems. And so many times, my computer crashed, and I lost much valuable data.

I feel that we all work in this way. We try harder and harder to think positive. We blame ourselves for negative thinking. We make huge efforts to avoid negative thinking. It is like an ostrich which buries its head in the sand when it sees the danger. And most of the motivational lectures push us in this wrong direction.

I think that once the undesired background programs stop running, you don’t have to insert extra memory in the computer. Because there is no end to it, you can keep opening new programs and never learn to close them. The only solution you will ever have is to increase the memory. And one day, you will run out of memory resources.

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This happens to the “positive people” most of the time. They have a severe crash down once the unaddressed emotional backlog becomes too heavy to carry. Then they tend to dive deep into the ocean of negativity. See, the higher you climb, the greater will be the fall and all because of gravity!!!
So, the real solution is to close the background programs, to remove the gravity, but does this means to be in a state of no rise-no fall, no activity, near-death existence — none of it.

Imagine that you are traveling in a car and you have to talk to the driver in sign language, that’s the only mode of communication. And you keep crashing because of inevitable miscommunication or delayed understanding.

But you have to put up with the driver because without him you are lost. So all your survival instincts, your focus is glued on better communication. And that drains all your time and energy.

But, there is a second solution which dawns on people too tired of the serendipity of a possible right or wrong communication – learn to drive yourself. I feel that the second option is always better.

We are so used to our emotional programming that without this load, we might feel dead. It looks like not a load, but a protective covering. Once we recognize it as a load, it will be gone in a flash. Probably, this is called the moment of liberation or salvation.

To see these negative thoughts, these background programs, as they are, is the final solution. But not so fast. Here is the major hurdle! When we look at a deep valley, we have a higher chance to fall. My mother says that depth is alluring; it tempts you to fall. And yes, I have similar experiences.

So the major problem is that when I look at a negative emotion, I fall. I embrace that emotion and become one with it. I re-traumatize myself with all the pain, fear, anger, or hatred I faced in the past. I become a thought!
We all must have observed that people die once, but their close ones kill them more often by recreating all the past experiences over and over again.

Here comes the ultimate solution.
For example, let us take the most dreadful experiences – near-death experience, like drowning, car accidents. People who survive carry a constant emotional load of such incidences.

When a harrowing past experience re-emerges in my mind, I do not join the band-wagon – “OMG, such a bad thing happened to me, it might happen again, what will I do, I am all lost and…. blah blah

Neither do I try to shoe it away or sweep it under the carpet. I don’t try to look away and change my thoughts – “let me think positive, it happened, and now it is over. It might never happen again; I will be able to control it this time….blah, blah

As animals work on biological reflexes, humans are guided by language reflexes. And it looks so normal, not to think but be driven by thinking! Here we can start THINking!

I have to see that it is just a thought, a thought about drowning or about suicide or the death of a dear one. It is not a REAL INCIDENT happening RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE. Every time this happens, we have to ask ourselves, is it real and happening right now? No, it is a thought, just a thought.

This simple awareness cuts down all the emotional load, all the gravity that makes things look heavy. This is mindfulness.

I will give you my example. While writing all this, many thoughts occurred in my mind, and it is natural. This is the job of mind; just like a secretary, it continuously suggests for your kind consideration. However, you must be knowing that if the boss is a novice, the secretary runs the office! Nothing wrong, it’s natural…

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“ I am writing such nonsense, maybe nobody will read it.”
“No, it is a work of art. I am going to provide a way to enlightenment.”
“Also get a lot of money too, at least it will manage the basic promotion.”
“How can I think in this way, it is so arrogant and mean.”
“I feel bad; maybe it is actually nonsense.”
“But I must push and do this; maybe it will bring some good or at least some money :)”

Being positive and negative is like day and night, inevitable! Any pressure to be positive is unnatural and killing.

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But CHOICE is mine, whether I make it consciously or choose to bump into it. I can choose to be aware and recognize these thoughts, say “no, thanks” to the mind and focus on what I REALLY want to do – to work! Not to be happy, excited, sad, angry, humiliated by my thoughts, because they are thoughts, they are not me.

Now your mind might be like an authoritarian secretary, who keeps pushing you with a torrent of thoughts! this should be fine, because that’s what the mind is trained to do, in fact, you have allowed it to behave in this way, and it got trained so. However, since you have changed your approach, you can tell so to your mind. After all, it is your mind.

Let’s do some basic mindfulness exercise –

Step 1
Watch something on TV that’s boring to you. Simply watch it and be observant to all thoughts that come to your mind.
It will be great if you can note some of them in your diary.

Step 2
Watch something mildly interesting and follow the same process.

Step 3
Watch something thoroughly engaging and see how you get absorbed in the flow. For example, if you are playing a video game, be aware of how you become one with the game. See if you feel bad when you lose.

The raisin experiment

Let’s make a small attempt to look at the bliss all around us
I have peanuts as raisins get a little expensive for me. You can choose anything.
Put a tiny amount in your mouth and keenly observe its taste.
Breathing exercise
Observe your breathing for 1 min. Try this often, every hour if possible.
Observe the thoughts that pass your mind during this one minute. See if you get caught in some thought and start to follow its trail.

I am a novice in mindfulness, not a master. But I can tell you one thing. There is not much information to capture. All we need is a sutra, the end of a thread, catch hold of it and gradually undo the colossal mind fabric and learn to knit it the way we like.

Let’s all try it together!

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Mindful Cleaning

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One of the most basic processes that we all engage in is the cleaning process. Cleaning is not only related to home-making. Each one of us does some or the other kind of cleaning in our daily routine unless we are filthy rich. Even if we are not cleaning our home frequently, we might be cleaning our study table or office cupboard or organizing our work desk. It can be any type of cleaning.

Let me give you my background regarding cleaning. I must have been the messiest kid and a teenager. It would take me a festival or some other occasion to clean my clothes or my desk. My books would be scattered all over and my study table always resembled the site of an earthquake. But I considered it natural, in fact authentic. I used to think that only the ones who study would keep their tables messy. After all, I had all the important work to do in the world. And cleaning was definitely not one of the mentally exciting things that I would like to focus on. I thought that there is nothing sensible to focus on cleaning and it must be delegated to lesser brains. Now I can safely say that I have improved my thinking. I love cleaning now. It is a fundamental process to our healthy and happy survival and I really respect the process of cleaning now. Love of cleaning led me to accept minimalism. Minimalist cleaning hardly takes any time as there is not much to clean J . And now what I do is mindful cleaning and really enjoy it.

Now it is my personal experience that normal cleaning activities like dusting, mopping the floor, dishwashing, laundry etc. can be done easily without active supervision of a conscious mind. Besides, these are normally considered to be second-grade no-brain activities. many people tend to procrastinate cleaning activities unless it is absolutely necessary to clean up. Therefore, these are the activities where we can easily turn off mindful attention to the task at hand and drift into the imaginary world of thoughts, emotions, and imagination. The mental space that these activities provide can easily attract a lot of negativity if we are not careful.

There is always so much funny stuff available about the grumbling housewife or the homemakers.  Why do they grumble so much? Probably, this might be so because these people normally have a lot of the above-described activities in their daily lives. In fact, their whole day can be full of cleaning and decluttering if they have small kids at home. They can spend their full day doing odd jobs that are not mentally challenging and inspiring. Thus the mental vacuum or numbness that builds up gives enough space for all kinds of thoughts. Unfortunately, most of these thoughts can be negative as a homemaker does not earn money, might not be considered important enough or sharp enough to engage in any other intellectual pursuit. It is natural that most of the time; such life can trigger lack of self-identity, loss of self-respect and depression.  Therefore, it is especially important for home-makers to practice cleaning mindfulness.

Decluttering Festival

I have described below the way I try to maintain mindfulness while the cleaning activities like the kitchen cleaning, washing and drying clothes, wardrobe cleaning, floor cleaning, and other odd jobs. I am sure that there can be better ways and I hope that we find them together.

Some tribal cultures have the practice of removing all useless things before the new harvest season begins. They throw all such things in a bonfire, dance around it and celebrate their harvest! These people are mindful of what they need and what they don’t, unlike us. We are told what we need by the advertising and marketing agencies. We have almost nil awareness of our real needs. Therefore, mindful cleaning starts with the process of decluttering. Physical decluttering can be used as a good example later for mental decluttering.

The first big step towards mindful cleaning is decluttering. If you are cleaning mindfully, you will ask yourself “why am I cleaning this thing?”.  You should look for a sensible answer. The next mindful question that you can ask yourself is “why do I own this thing?” or “does it brings joy to me?” or “is it really useful to me?”. I used to have a lot of show pieces that I collected from my travels. After my daughter was born, it became a real pain to be able to maintain all of them.  It took me 4 long years to realize that I don’t want them. They might look nice but if they come at a cost of my priceless time that I could have spent with my daughter instead of cleaning them, I don’t want them at all. They offer very little value for the time spent on cleaning them. I gave away all of them, every single one and now I never miss them. 

Another big cleaning happens around the clothes. I used to have cupboards full of clothes, just because my mom was very fond of buying clothes. And she would keep buying my gifts. Besides, I kept storing all the clothes so that I would wear them SOME day, which actually never came. I highly recommend reading Marie Condo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying”. There are youtube videos also available, that will give you a zest of the book. I sincerely wish that I had read this book year back. I would have so much of my time and energy on senseless work. Cleaning is not senseless; however, there is nothing more idiotic than mindless cleaning.  

I knew that we should throw away the things that are not useful to us. But I would keep clinging to things that I would be able to use ONE day. So my rooms were full of such things and never looked clean in spite of all the cleaning.  There was not enough space. I failed to realize that I need to keep things that I am going to use frequently and not all the things that are usable in some way. After a few years of failed attempts of cleaning, I came across the documentary “The Minimalist” and it changed my whole life. I loved the idea and made a strategy to achieve minimalism. Actually, it was my strategy of getting rid of excessive anger, might work for you too. I started throwing 5 things per day that I have not used for more than a year. Over a course of 6 months, I donated some 35-40 suitcase full of clothes and other usable things to a nearby orphanage. I felt so relieved and free immediately.  After 6 months I could see that my house remained clean without doing any extensive cleaning.  It was because there was no trash left in the house. I was blind to the trash in my house and I was trying to manage trash instead of cleaning it up. Mindful awareness of my real needs helped to figure out what I really need and remove the rest. Marie Condo, the tidying expert suggests onetime cleaning which is actually the best way. However, if you do not have the moral strength to do that, go by “5 things out every day” method. This process really makes you more mindful o the things that you value and would want to keep at home. 

Once the house is properly decluttered, you must be mindful of anything that is not required in the house. Such things are believed to block the natural flow of energy in the house.  In Indian tradition, it is believed that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth comes to the home which is clean and pious. And interestingly, the broom is also worshipped during the worship ritual of Lakshmi. Therefore, cleaning is more than a mindless job.

Everyday Cleaning

After the mega-decluttering of the house, I believe that you need not spend more than 30 min cleaning the entire house, that too when you have a small messy child at home.

Initially, I would several ideas running in my mind, especially that I am losing time in cleaning and that I should be using this time to earn more. But I flipped that idea into another belief that as I am dusting my things or mopping the floor, I am removing dirt from my good luck. As I shine my house, my fortune will shine as well. With thorough faith in this idea, I became completely aware of the way that I am cleaning. I am attentive to the fact whether the things are getting cleaned properly or not. This thought works for almost all of us because we all face little financial crises here or there. When aligned with prosperity, cleaning becomes far most important than it would appear otherwise. Since I have few prized possessions that are useful to me after a massive decluttering, I really have time to clean and manage them properly. 

Again gratefulness helps a lot to stay in the moment. When I am washing my daughter’s favorite plate, I feel grateful that I have a beautiful family, an adorable child, good food and comfortable life! Positivity connects everything in life, just as negativity does. This feeling helps me to be more aware of the pretty plates and other utensils that I have.

When I am mopping the floor in a mindful state, I am aware of each and every inch of my house. My house looks like a living entity in its own right. I work better and faster. What’s best is that I have less work, since I know what I should do and what I don’t need to.  Mindfulness might not help you to work fast. However, it sure can sweep away all useless things and work from your life and you are left with few crisp and clean things to do.

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Mindful Walking

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

The walking mindfulness is a part of Zen, Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon, and Vietnamese Thiền. There are two types of meditations – sitting meditation and walking meditation.

Almost all of us are aware of the concept of sitting meditation. Walking meditation is a complementary form of meditation to the sitting meditation. Walking meditation was meant as a meditative break from the long slots of sitting meditation. It improved the blood supply after sitting still for a long time.

I used to be completely unaware while walking. I used to be so much lost in the thoughts that once I was about to put my foot on a crab, as I walked back home with my family to my house. It was a dark rainy night and I was walking as usual, lost in my thoughts. In fact, I often used to walk while thinking. So walking was a side thing to do for me as I thought. My imagination was the way for me to get out of my uninteresting or sad state of affairs, as I used to perceive it then. Now, I believe that I must have wasted so many years just walking and thinking. I thought so much that I was left with neither interest nor energy to do anything else. It was an absolute waste of time. Now I feel that I could have saved so much of energy and time I only I could just be present. What I did was completely opposite to the walking mindfulness. It must be mildly true for many others, who start strolling as they think about something serious. It normally happens when you feel an urgent need to do something about your problems, but since you do not know what to do, you start walking. It gives your mind a false relief of doing something about the problem. Also the physical exertion takes away much of your stress by releasing the anti-stress or feel good hormone. Gradually, it might become a unproductive habit that is like a drug. It gives you a imaginary escape into an imaginary world of comfort, whereas the real problem remains unsolved.     

Walking mindfulness is but walking meditation in other words.

Normally, when we are walking we are looking or thinking about something. At least, we look or think about the destination where we are going. Most of the time, a person in the frenzy to reach somewhere, will overlook the path. On reaching the desired place, if you ask him about the things that he saw on the path, he would hardly remember any. But in mindfulness meditation, there is awareness of the path, of the footsteps, flowers or greenery on the roadside. With an aware mind, when you pass through a path, you really are present with every step. You can even hear the crunching sound of the dry leaves as you put your foot on them. This is mindful walking.

Walking mindfulness

Walking mindfulness can be practiced anywhere. It is great if you can practice in a place that you love. It can be a spot of natural beauty, or a temple or even your own house. Initially, if possible you can choose a place that you love. However, your house might be the most convenient place to start. The most helpful application of mindful walking can be in the office. In an office, normally the people are sitting in a sedentary position for a fairly long duration. Besides, it can help very effectively in managing the stress during office hours.

Walking meditation can be practiced while walking from one room to the other or on a mountaineering expedition.

Let’s look at the way walking mindfulness is experienced. Now, this is a personal experience. There are no steps or ritual for practicing mindfulness.

Be aware of the tension in different parts of your legs and your body as you get up or take the first step.

Be aware of the surrounding sounds and voices.

Be aware of your foot-steps and the pressure on the soles of the feet.

Be aware of chatter in your mind. No need to stop it, just be aware of it. 

Let us share my personal experience of mindful walking. I could not get into the desired college for graduation and one day I was extremely miserable. I just walked up to the window of the corridor in my college during a break and looked out of it. For 10 sec as I walked towards the window, I could feel my feet touching the ground. I remember even the sound of the birds chirping, leaves rustling and normal hubbub of college extra clearly. And as I looked out of the window, it was the most beautiful sight. Suddenly, the leaves of the trees appeared extra bright green, the sky was a beautiful blue color and everything looked so bright and colorful. I realized that I have eyes. Realization is always different from information. I knew that I have eyes, just as I know that India is my country. However, this fact hit me deep inside that I have eyes. Realization is a living thing, which makes it so complete. It meant that I could see! It meant that I should be grateful that I can see when many others can’t. It meant that the world is so beautiful and colorful and I should be grateful to be living in it. It meant that I actually never saw anything, that my eyes were never connected to my soul. My eyes have been put to no better use than the optical hole of a camera.

Many people who have had NDE(Near Death Experiences) state that everything looks extra bright and vibrantly colored in heaven. I still remember that sight from the college window and I believe it when I hear that heaven and hell are here on earth itself. We just don’t have the right vision. 

Mindful walking can bring amazing insights into our lives. Sometimes, even a small incident of mindfulness can change the entire outlook of an individual.

Apart from benefits in the spiritual and mental realm, mindful walking offers multiple other benefits. Mindful walking is a great exercise for dancers, acrobats, sports people as well as home-makers and office workers. It is good to support posture and gait improvement.

Mindful walking can prevent a lot of pedestrian accidents on the road. Combined with mindful driving, the accidents can be reduced to almost zero!

Hope this simple exercise benefits you and helps you to reach your final destination!

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