To live meaningfully in each moment is a gift you can give yourself!
A young man wanted to know what meditation is. And I told him this story from my Life.
Some months ago we were in the throes a legal quagmire. A matter in the court was reaching its logical culmination. A judgment against us was to be pronounced the next day. After we came home from our lawyer’s office, Vaani and I reviewed the options before us. There, in fact, was only one option – to go with the court’s decree; which would necessarily mean that a slew of dreadful actions would now be initiated against us. (This court matter is one of many that we face as part of a numbing bankruptcy we are dealing with. Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal)
At dinner, I turned on the TV. Our favourite music program was playing on Sony Mix – Raina Beeti Jaaye. That evening they were playing R.D.Burman’s compositions. It was a magical hour we spent singing along with whatever songs played on our TV. And then we went to sleep. We both slept very well.
This, I told the young man, is meditation.
He was shocked. He wondered if we were not abdicating our responsibilities, choosing to enjoy music and going to sleep, when a serious threat loomed large over our Life the next morning.
I clarified to the young man what I have understood about meditation. Learning to live in the moment is meditation – when you can bring your mind to attend to that moment and not to your guilt, grief, worries or fears.
Whenever I share this story and the learning it offers with people, they often don’t believe this is practical – this ability to meditate in the moment, to postpone worry and fear and to focus on the present. They immediately equate it to their experiences with meditation which they must have tried at some point or the other. And they quickly conclude that because they do not do meditation anymore, they continue to struggle with their lives. Or there are others who say they struggle despite meditating for an hour daily!
Conceptually, there is a problem here. You don’t schedule a mediation. It is not a session. You just meditate. Meditation is just mindfulness. Awareness. Alertness. Just being. When you have reached the point of staying in the now, doing whatever you are doing, consciously, then you have begun meditation. It is the ability to be present. Because the present moment is all that you have. Meditation need not be done at a particular time of the day or at a particular venue. It is the continuous, conscious feeling of being in the present. If you are peeling onions, do it with full awareness. Then you are meditating. If you are drawing up an excel sheet and crunching numbers for tomorrow’s meeting, you are meditating. Now, that’s the quality you have to bring into every living moment – which is, immersing yourself in whatever activity you are doing without letting your mind wander. This also applies to tasks you have to do, even though you don’t like doing them much. For example, I don’t like book-keeping and accounts. But I have to do it. There’s no one I have who can help me with that. I postpone it all month. Then, one day, I just do it. Fully. Without hating it. I love it the day I do it. And then I feel liberated. That’s the power of living in meditation.
I learnt to live this way through the daily practice of ‘mouna’ or silence periods. I began by first practicing it at a particular time each day. But over years of practice, now I can slip into ‘mouna’, anywhere, anytime __ even at a busy traffic intersection or in a crowded airport or in a boring meeting. I trigger my awareness by slipping into my ‘mouna’ spells. I choose to be silent at these times and it floods me with a sublime energy instantaneously that helps me see each situation or circumstance in which I am placed with amazing clarity. Often when my mind works up to worrying, my auto-pilot, the ‘mouna’ switch embedded in my mind, gets self-activated and awareness steps in to remind me to let go of my ruinous emotions and focus on the miracle of the moment. To meditate is to learn to live meaningfully all the time. You can gift yourself this learning too.
Now, it is possible some people will have a problem with my story and its lesson. Some will say, that it is defeatist. Others will say that it is impractical. How can you sleep soundly with an impending catastrophe tomorrow? Such thinking really is the problem. When you think of a past that is over, and of a future that is yet to arrive, then, you are really not present in the moment. All your Life’s challenges, fears and insecurities come to torment you only because you are absent from the now. Just learn to do one thing at a time. As an old Japanese saying goes, if you try to catch two rabbits at the same time, you will get none. If you want to worry, worry incessantly. Then don’t aspire for peace. If you want to fear the future, then fear totally. Don’t hope for that fear not to come true. But if you want to be happy, drop the worry, stop fearing and just be. That really is what meditation is all about.
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