If something’s happening to me, I’d rather be around.
— Albert Camus
After coming back from work, I put on some music and stood in the kitchen, peeling off an orange. But, I wasn’t really there. My mind was somewhere else, wandering off into the distant world of events past and the What-Could-Haves and What-Should-Bes. Suddenly, I heard the music – really heard it for the first time. And my feet started tapping of their own accord, a smile appeared on my lips and my mind started noticing what was happening. That was such a good feeling.
Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening around you in that particular moment, every moment. It means not ignoring the present in anticipation of the future or in memories of the past. ‘Flow’ and being ‘in the zone’ are the same concepts with different names.
All of us have experienced it in some form or the other. Perhaps you are a coder who gets lost in his code when being in the zone. Or while playing a sport, you probably give your best when your focus is on the game and not on some altercation you had with someone. A good movie drowns you in its fantasy world. Or you are texting and it takes a couple of shouts by someone to bring your attention away from your phone. The world fades away, for a brief few moments you lose sense of what is around you. You don’t notice how your mind is working but it just does. That is being mindful.
Why you should care about it
This moment is your life. The moments to come may or may not be what you imagined. But this moment, right now, will never come back again.
Be mindful for the simple reason that it makes you attractive to other people – you may not know it – but I observe this for sure. I am automatically attracted towards people who seem in a flow, self assured and thus confident. Being mindful makes your relationships better – wouldn’t you rather have a friend actually listening to what you are saying rather than wandering off into the distance? Some of your best work is produced when you are engrossed in it. Food tastes better, music is nicer and conversations are more enjoyable.
Imagine dipping into ice cream and it melting into your mouth as you imagine the fruits it contains. You really let the tastebuds experience the true joy of feeling the ice cream caressing your tongue. This might seem like a lot at first because you have to train your mind. But, I feel it is a good way to live life. Otherwise, you might arrive at each destination and wonder what’s next. I don’t recommend it for the sake of finding a deep answer or anything of that sort but for the simple reason that it feels so good. Haven’t you experienced it yourself – maybe you are watching a great video and someone calls your name – you totally don’t hear that happen, right? Compare it with a situation where you are watching that same video or movie but your mind is somewhere else and you probably don’t enjoy it as much.
You know the times when the mornings seem brighter, sweets sweeter and all that, wouldn’t you want to have it all the time?
How to practice mindfulness
The simplest way to be mindful is to actually practice it in your daily life rather than finding a time to do it. Experience the juices of the food that you eat mixing together as they fill up your mouth. Feel the food travelling down your throat drenching it with the superb taste you were craving for. Read a book and imagine the author writing those exact words, scratching, and writing again with his pen on a piece of paper. Imagine his thoughts preceding the line you are just reading. Try it out right now. Let the music fill your ears, notice each different instrument in a song and how they all sound different yet together. Imagine the earth moving down a little as you walk – it really does even though it is a very small amount. Lie down under the open sky with your arms outstretched and feel the earth rotating and revolving at the same time.
Truly live each moment, be aware of what is happening around you – there is never nothing going on. Take stock of the realities and don’t ruin it by imagining the possibility of a bad future. Stop looking for the next kick and try to be at ease with the OK-ness and enough-ness of now. Indulge yourself in the activity at hand completely.
What you have right now is enough at this moment, isn’t it? You are surviving, breathing, living life wherever you are. You can’t bring time back. So why be lost in the events gone by when you can rather be in the present and enjoy what you have right now. I don’t mean ignore the contemplation but choose a deliberate time for it. Bring your wandering mind back into the present, tell it to wait a little longer and finish off the task at hand.
It isn’t easy and probably is a lot of work but it is totally worth it. I can tell – my orange tasted so much better.
Written by: Mayank Jain, who write about his experiments with living a simpler, more mindful life. Originally published in MayankJa.