Recently, I was reading Zen and the Art of Running when I came across a very interesting topic: Mindfulness. My initial understanding of the word mindfulness was more like combination of awareness and alertness of mind in present state. Though this definition is not incorrect but this word has far greater and deep meaning and its power can change your attitude entirely towards different everyday scenarios.
Mindfulness is a state when you are not only consciously aware of your present but also you are aware of feelings and emotions attached with the present. This awareness of attachments with a situation is key to improvement in attitude. Only when you are aware of these attachments, you can rationally evaluate them and systematically differentiate myths from facts. As a result you get a better understanding of yourself and a chance to improve.
Let me use an example, which I can personally relate to, from same book in order to better explain what I am blabbering about.
I like to run either in morning or in the evening but at times I just don’t feel like it. The hardest part is getting out of bed in the morning or explicitly taking time out in the evening. Let me try to list down reasons my mind comes up with to avoid running
In the morning
- its too cold outside
- it seems like it will start raining soon
- I will feel sleepy in office
In the evening
- how am I going to complete all pending tasks after running, I will be tired
- I just had lunch couple of hours back, running on full stomach doesn’t seem like a good idea
At first glance all of the above might seem valid arguments but lets try approach of mindfulness to critically analyse each objection to get better understanding of situation.
- its too cold outside: that’s a fact that its relatively cold outside but why is it stopping me from running? 😐
- it seems like it will start raining soon: yes I don’t like the idea of running wet in cold but there is a difference between it might rain and it is raining.
- I will feel sleepy in office: thats a valid point but I can take a nap to cover it up after running, thanks to flexible timings.
- how am I going to complete all pending tasks after running, I will be tired: its just a myth, I feel more fresh after running.
- I just had lunch couple of hours back, running on full stomach doesn’t seem like a good idea: scientifically speaking, couple of hours gap is good enough to run.
Now if I look back to arguments they feel more like excuses.
Whole idea behind this critical analysis is to help in making a well informed decision rather than a decision based on mere feelings. However, its unnatural to expect that one day you will rationally look at things and everything will change instantly, thats not going to happen. It takes conscious effort to repeat this practise regularly. Gradually, with time, you will be able to differentiate between real and fake attachments. Eventually, this will help you in making well informed decision at every stage of your life and hopefully it will make you a better person.