I’ve been training myself to eat more consciously without distractions, trying to taste what I relentlessly cooked. It went well until the day when a good movie and hunger arrived at the same time. My mind said “why don’t we eat while watching television, only for today” and we did that. After that, for the next couple of weeks, we ate with the tv or the computer on.
The mind argued; it’s not a big deal. I am still eating. With or without the distraction, the food is going to the same place.
Have you come across such silly reasoning? Here are a few 😉
- I can afford to pay the bills. So I will have the air conditioning on even when it is raining.
- I am not going to be there when the Earth goes out of the water. So, I will have the faucet on while I am brushing and thinking for good 15 minutes every day.
- What will my friends think if I do not have a paper dispenser in the kitchen? My mom’s gen used reusable kitchen towels. Our’s don’t.
- Housework is not my thing. But I do not mind spending a lakh for my gym membership.
- I am putting 20 hours at my work each day and I don’t mind trading my sleep for more money. I’ll take a pill to shut my head, for a couple of hours, if it needs rest.
- We do not have the time to cook. So, the family eats processed food.
- I am a spiritual person but I still have a long list of requests waiting for God’s approval.
- I know, my people and I come with an expiration date but I will take care of it when the day arrives.
I guess this is a concomitant of a dumb society heading south. Today we have vitamin deficiencies, global warming, restless and uncoperative mind, unhappy lives and fake gurus…
We have more money than our parents but we aren’t any happier. And if we continue being this, then we are preparing our mind for more pain.
The mind is like a child, if we act upon its every need then it wouldn’t be able to take a ‘no’ for an answer. You can make your way with the machines and technology but can you get your way with another human? Maybe not.
You will get more ‘no”s than ‘yes”es. Well! Then you would have an inadaptable Mind and an unwilling Human to deal with. But the truth is, we humans can bring realistic change any day- if we have a guiding intellect and a reasoning mind.
Bhagavad Gita says in Chapter 2 verse 41, that uncultivated Intellect is many-branched and is useless but those of the yogis are focused. How do we understand this shloka in this context? If we want to be a yogi, we need discipline in life. Though a large part of society is conforming to a popular way of life, we still need to walk the right way. It might be popular and common practice but it might not be right. So, we need to cultivate the intellect with the proper knowledge to guide the ever confused mind.
Vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana
Bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam//
Image: the internet
Naiva Kincit Karomiti Yukto Manyeta Tattva-vit
The human body is home to trillions of bacteria and viruses but they aren’t harmful until they find the right breeding ground. In the same way, the concept of attachment is already embedded in our system, waiting for the right time to develop.
For it to develop, it doesn’t need a human on the other end. It can be your smart phone or an operating system, like the movie ‘HER’. Watch it if you haven’t. Maybe our future gen is heading there.
Alright, so what is the problem with ‘attachment’?
Side effects are the problem. To name a few – possessiveness, controlling, sorrow, aversion, frustration, anger, hatred etc.
Some say what the heck, attachment makes life worth living. Few say attachment is the root cause of all our miseries. Others say it is impossible to live without it. Whatever is the thought process, we still do not have an antidote for the adverse effects.
Besides, the scriptures are not talking about attachment towards a person, in particular, but are addressing us to stop clinging to our beliefs, ideas, identities & thoughts.
We can make an argument that those very identities drives us and how are we to be without them? I agree. All that we need to do is to realize that whatever drives the body is not us but are just a series of memories. This understanding will slowly weaken the attachments we have towards them.
Why do we have to do this?
If you truly understand whatever you have here is been loaned to you for a period of time including your body, would you not live with that knowledge. Or would you prefer living in willful ignorance?
I know it is easier said than done because we do not even realize. This is how I practice. Starting from my body to the people I live with – I am always thankful that I have them and they help me experience this world but I remind myself that they are there ‘now’ and that they have a life too.
Whatever I do, I engage in it with total involvement and that is when I enjoy the role I play. Just like how we play a video game, we know that it is neither us nor ours but we still give everything to that.
I am still in the process but I am convinced that everything I thought I was is not me. When they(mind, body, identity, roles) are not me, the things or people that come along cannot be mine either.
By doing every activity with this knowledge of who is doing, makes me more human. Giving credit where it’s due, for example – Mind is thinking, Sumi is working etc ;). It may sound funny but if you think about it, you would realize that it is true.
And if you practice, it will make things easier for you and for others living with you. The whole thing would make you more inclusive, happy, livable, prepared and mindful. Try it but always start with self-study.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita:
Kayena manasa buddhya kevalair indriyair api
Yoginah karma kurvanti sangam tyaktvatma-suddhaye//
The yogis, like all of us, perform their duties with the help of the senses, body, mind and the intelligence but only for the purpose of purification and not for attachment.
Naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattva-vit
pasyan srnvan sprsan jighrann asnan gacchan svapan svasan//
Pralapan visrjan grhnann unmisan nimisann api
indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan//
‘I do nothing at all.’ thus should be the knower of Reality.
In YOGA, contemplate, even while sleeping, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking aloud, eliminating, receiving, opening the eyes, closing the eyes, the knower of Reality understands that the senses are operating in the realm of the object of the senses.
This post is an extension to my other post on how Mind tricks us into a state of mindlessness.
From then on, made a conscious effort to watch my thoughts- the thoughts that stole my concentration away from whatever I was doing. I was not always successful – it takes a lot of energy to process the things which have been to set to automation.
Only good thing that came out of this process is my understanding of some of the inessentials that I kept thinking. Or the ones that I taught my mind to be essentials by constantly thinking about them when not required. I mean, they are information but the only problem is that they were running unconsciously without me recalling it.
And my understanding about Mindlessness is to be a thought less state. We all experience that state in meditation or in deep sleep. But when the body is actively working the mind should be present there but unlike the body, it does multitask.
This is what I understand that we’re doing- programming it to slowly destroy us and then blaming it. We do not even know where is it localized and we are treating it. It can be numbed but it cannot be cured by medications alone. I think more than any kind of education, this is very important. We should know how to run it rightly. We are just doing it all wrong.
We should teach the kids. They haven’t yet accumulated all the trash that we have. We should teach them to employ mindfulness as an instrument to declutter.
Verses from Srimad Bhagavad Gita:
Chapter 2, verse 62 and Chapter 3, 40-42
Bhagavad Gita strongly recommends you to search the breeding grounds of desire. Desire enters us when we are attached to something. And attachment because of contemplation on sensory objects. We should remember that overthinking leads to a cycle of reactions.
My in laws and grandparents were home over the weekend. So, the day before they arrived, my mother said that she would help me to shop groceries so I could cook them lunch.
Accordingly, I shopped and made them a typical Tambrahm lunch. They stayed over the weekend and we had a good time.
My mother calls me the evening they left thinking they would be home. And, the conversation,…
Mom: Why did they leave so early? Did you not insist on them staying over?
Me: I did. But Thatha said he would be more comfortable there. We had a good time but it was both exciting and tiring at the same time. So, I am going to crash soon. I’ll talk to you later.
Mom: Wait. Did you make use of the things we bought?
Me: Yes, I did. They loved the food and Thatha said it was delicious. Full marks and happy.
Mom: Oh…is the happiness to do with the full marks? Sumi, I don’t have to remind you that your actions should never be to create an impression. (Expected and a standard question from my mother :-p )
Me: Yes Maa. That is what they said.
We spoke for some more time before I was reminded of the work waiting to be finished. I wished her a good night’s sleep and hung up the phone.
My Mother cautions me all the time because she thinks I over indulge in things more than what is required. Was not an easy child. The reason I documented the conversation is to point out that our spiritual outlooks are different. And, that is okay.
I do not think anyone can teach us how to manage our head because only we know what kind of demons we created. There is no moral code. And, we shouldn’t live like a dead fish in the name of spirituality. A dead one can experience nothing. Just being mindful of what is coming our way and how we take it is the first step towards it.
Also, do not override something that happens in your head. I think we should not tell people not to feel certain emotions or question them unnecessarily. It doesn’t matter; it is just another one among the other fleeting emotions or feelings. We complicate things by brooding over passing thoughts.
If something needs your attention, give it. Unnecessary ones will fall out with time and I do not think we need to be worried. Feel it and leave it. It is happening in the head.
Spirituality is about finding our way out of what we think we aren’t. All the things that we see, read or listen about spirituality should only be a guide and not a rule until it comes to our experience.
According to me, if we aren’t the roles we are playing then we should be something else. And, only we could find our way out. Be grateful and thankful to those who help you find yourself but tread your path.
Let me give you an example to illustrate this. I respect Bhagavad Gita and I look at it as my Teacher for guidance but I am not obsessed nor would I identify with it.
Identification is Our Mental Problem. From identification flow our likes and dislikes. We become rigid. All we have to do is to keep learning from our mistakes and experiences. Even if it means, learning to unlearn.
Tinnaga Vetagi Telusukontinayya Ninnegani Madinenna Jalanorula
After inner soul searching, I now see that YOU are in everything.
That is all we need to do..some soul searching 🙂
Credit: Written by Tyagaraja, in Carnatic composition by Mahesh Raghavan, love it..
Me: Maggie, why can’t you turn down the shower knob?
Husband: Sorrrryyyyy, I thought I did. Why don’t you check it before you turn on the faucet?
Me: Silent. all wet.
He is right. My eyes are working fine but my mind was busy thinking something nonsensical. Two days in a row, I walk into the bathroom for something else but had to come out taking a shower.
If I do not have a say on when to shower, there is a problem. Generally, you see these in movies, when the hero or heroine is in love, he or she mindlessly go about doing their work. No, I am not in love and ain’t daydreaming. So, this is not good 😉
If my mind accompanies my body in its activities this wouldn’t happen. But I guess, I have made it think that it has many more important things to ponder upon while the body mechanically runs its activities.
This is a good reason for me to turn mindful. So, I told my mind you will be here with me in whatever I am doing. That is the only way I would know what you are thinking. And, that is the only way I could go about doing things efficiently.
Here, is a conversation between us.
Mind: It is very boring that you keep a tab on me all the time. Moreover, you know what needs to go into a khichdi. You don’t need my help.
Me: Yeah, I need you here. See, I create fewer blunders so fewer cleanups
Was lying on the couch. Conversation continues…
Mind: Remember, those days, when you would do something mindlessly and I would do my own thing. We were happy then.
Now you have to learn to watch me over all the time. You do let me think but you are intruding.
Me: You could daydream when I decide to go mindless for some time. When I choose not to listen to some boring conversation, I will let you free then. But for now, you are with me. I AM THE BOSS.
Mind: Okay, then. Why don’t you grab a coffee? I guess we both could use a cup right now
Me: RIGHT NOW? HMmmmmm….
Shrimad Bhagavad Gita on turning Mindful
Sanaih sanair uparamed buddhya dhrti-grhitaya
Atma-samstham manah kritva na kincid api cintayet //
Bhagavad Gita, Chp 6, Shl 25
I saw a lady trying to cheer up a kid from the apartment’s balcony. The kid was imitating whatever she was doing. After a while, the lady seemed tired but the kid happily continued mimicking. As I watched them, I thought what a beautiful display of mirror neurons at work. A primitive thing which stayed regardless of how much we progressed, both in age and science.
We see someone in shape, there is an immediate urge to get in shape though continuing might be a challenge. If the thought of cooking itself is boring then watch a YouTuber cooking for her family and instinctively you are motivated. How else can you explain 1 million subscribers and a million likes on such videos?
When our favourite actors smoke on screen, we reach out for our packs.
One day I decided to watch all Kenny Sebastian’s stand-up comedy on YouTube and after few hours my husband arrived from work. After five minutes or so into our conversation, I noticed my husband’s weird expression or rather a confused one. I didn’t have to ask him the reason, I knew then that I was acting like Kenny. After watching more than 10 shows of him, my mind has literally adopted his ways and was turning Kenny. My husband was so confused else he would have captured my act in a video and I could have shared it with you 😉
That is the power of the mind and the power of media🤑 They say we learn pretty much everything in the first five years of our life, but we continue to learn through our experiences. And that is why Organisations spend millions of dollars in training.
Bhagavad Gita also states the same- We have a tendency to follow and imitate the people we like. Nothing stands in our way other than the proper resolve to become that. Even the sinners when in the right company, they can learn their true nature and follow the path of a Guru(an enlightened being). Just like Ratnakarah who, with the help of sage Narada, turned Valmiki. There is no age, the strong resolve is the only necessary ingredient to achieve success.
Api chet su-durāchāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk Sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ samyag vyavasito hi saḥ//
Kṣhipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā śhaśhvach-chhāntiṁ nigachchhati Kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśhyati//
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9 Shl 30, 31
Even if the vilest sinners worship Me with exclusive devotion, they are to be considered righteous, for they have made the proper resolve. Quickly they become virtuous and attain lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that no devotee of mine is ever lost
Yadi hyahaṁ na varteyaṁ jātu karmaṇyatandritaḥ
Mama vartmānuvartante manuṣhyāḥ pārtha sarvaśhaḥ
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3 Shl 23
For if I did not carefully perform the prescribed duties, O Parth, all men would follow my path in all respects.