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It is amusing to me that while questioning, if mindfulness can improve one's behavorial pattern and personality, my mind as usual drifts to my school days taking me back to a time when the remark section of my report card always had the following comment- 'inattentive in class'.

Funny cause I was always very absorbed in my thoughts, observations and imaginations. If ever the class turned out to be tedious, and I was not able to resonate with what was being taught I would not become listless unlike other children but rather move into a shell of my own that was actually much more extensive than the closed classroom.

My questions on this practice is an attempt to understand exactly how we can live in the moment.

Initially, I thought it is simple, it is about being aware. Being aware of oneself, aware of one's thoughts, aware of one's actions and aware of one's surroundings. Yes, indeed it's a way to focus on now and not be distracted. But what is now?  These days a Now itself is a congregation of several moments that have the potential and power to be portent.

Is this Old wine in New bottle?

We have been aware of meditation and it's benefits towards our health and happiness from time immemorial. Alexander the great was quite bewildered with the practice of yoga by the sages of our land and was inquisitive enough to try to understand 'Sadhana' or Practice as such, in fact, he had left instructions to his general to find out what powers could be achieved through such self- inflicted sacrifice and hard practice.

 Mindfulness is a term I came across in recent times though I am sure it's existence goes as far back as our epics Mahabharata  and Ramayana, may be even further. Being born in the times when things were not this hectic I have been fortunate enough to not have any deficiency disorder in paying attention, but even then my mind does wander away often. Do you too have this handicap?

You see due to my such disposition I have always  been sceptical, about terms like 'hard practice', 'mindfulness' and such other stuff.  Though I must admit that my interest and intrigue was invoked after watching an interview of Dr.Amit Ranjan Biswas on television. Dr. Amit Ranjan Biswas is a renowned Neuro Psychiatrist, is based in London, and works with children and adolescents. His enlightening explanation about Mindfulness helped to make my mind towards delving deeper into the practice of Mindfulness .

My  journey started with failed attempts to meditate...

Yes, I thought I knew what meditation is, I was proved wrong.  I found it difficult to close my eyes and tell my mind not to think. So yes I would tell myself be blank don't think yet somehow I would start thinking about blank papers or how I loved to do fill in the blanks as a  child,  worse was I would start visualising about blank bullets fired from a pistol or wonder about prank blank calls that I used to make as a child. So basically I would either drift into my seemingly wonderful past or an imaginary future. My present becoming oblivious to me and my presence of mind diminishing into a deep dark rabbit hole of my imagination.

Soon I realized any kind of practice is a task that is not easy and that is exactly why practice is a dry run. And just then I also caught on to the fact that I truly have very little control over my mind. Think of the immense power of those who are known as  Mentalist, people who can read your mind and even hack them. By now I am sure you have got an idea how distracted I can get and rattle on like those old women you have come across in stories. But let's try and focus again on Mindfulness, so are you a person who is aware of oneself and one's surroundings 24×7?

Well, I am not, no I am not ditzy but I have not been able to harness my faculties and be alert in my waking hours. I am indeed a failure at practicing the art called'Unagi' A term I got introduced to from the sitcom "Friends" But yes I did try to practice Mindfulness and the keyword here is 'try'.

To be vigilant of my senses is not too difficult, not easy either but can be accomplished. I have to admit that focussing on my breath was easier than my attempt to meditate. Am not sure how mindful  I have become but learning more about Mindfulness has helped me to be less judgemental, and that too about myself. I know the moment we speak of this word 'non-judgemental' what comes to our mind is other people. People who judge us and also people whom we judge. Mindfulness has indeed opened a new window within me that helped me realise that one must learn to be less judgemental towards oneself first before we can (100). 

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Be considerate to others. So now when my mind drifts I let it go, and then try to bring it back and focus on my breathing without beating myself down for not being aware. I do feel more calm than I did before. Surrendering to the fact that yes my mind did drift but  I should never stop to strive towards being mindful. So yes it is the age old advice of never giving up.

A reasonable Sequitur

You see the sceptic in me died a bit due to my attempts at practicing mindfulness. Disappointments big and small still upsets me but now I take some time to observe what and why of it. Often I don't understand the process but it helps me to deal with the disappointment. I also came to the conclusion that once I stopped  being judgemental about myself I was much less judgemental about others. Once I dropped the chip from my shoulder it did not matter how people perceived me. I suppose that is a sure way to de-stress your life which often runs on the auto-pilot mode.

Giving, Forgiving, and Gratitude is a part of Mindfulness that need not be instilled but rather happens organically.

'Ark' (Act of Random Kindness) I came across this usage in the film "Evan Almighty "starring Steve Carell as Evan Baxter and Morgan Freeman as God, a fantasy disaster comedy. A mediocre film but had this powerful message in the end. An act of Random kindness does not matter how big or how small leads to abundant happiness and that is one of the sweetest discovery I made in this journey. The second one is on a more personal note; my vulnerabilities were never my weakness but my strength.

I want to mention that my first-hand experience while teaching 'personality development' in a college to young men and women it became clear to me that most of us have this wrong notion that personality development is all about how you look or are dressed and if you can speak fluently in English. A notion that is hard to change, personality develops when you change the patterns of your life, when you change your outlook, when you decide to be a believer and not a sceptic. I would like to assert that any kind of practice is it meditation, exercise, jogging, mindfulness or gratitude practice is a choice one makes consciously but they create positive patterns in one's life. The more you practice the more you benefit. One may fail to practice it regularly but don't give up. What you practice is what you get. 

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