Happy Birthday to you…!

Vishaka Hari
Earlier today I had the opportunity to listen to renowned Carnatic and Harikatha exponent, Vishaka Hari, who performed at a friend’s mother’s 80th birthday celebration! What Vishaka said at the end of her performance was inspiring. She said, while wishing my friend’s mother a great birthday: “The actual birthday for us, voyagers through this journey called Life, is not our date of birth. The day when enlightenment is born in us, through the flowering of internal awareness, is when we are truly born. That’s when we really start living.”
I completely agree with her.
Enlightenment is not what you attain because you give up everything and go sit in a cave or under a tree. What I have learned is that enlightenment is when you realize that the light you seek is within you. Enlightenment being fully conscious, aware, of your divinity. Of the Oneness of your creation with the Higher Energy that has created you. This consciousness leads you to understand the frivolity in chasing a material Life – the folly of being attached to all things that are impermanent, including your own Life! When this consciousness is born inside you, there is tremendous clarity. Suddenly you feel sure about who you are, why you are here and what you must do while you are here. It is more than a Eureka moment. It is as if a veil has been taken off, a cataract has been removed – so now you have the ability to see clearly! This happens in each of our lives. At some time or the other. So, in essence, all of us attain enlightenment in our own unique ways – because there’s no way forward without becoming conscious. Without being aware. Without being awake.
You __ or I __ don’t have to do anything special to become conscious or aware. Just be. Feel everything that you experience deeply. Train your mind – through whatever method works for you – to not be caught in a past memory or a future worry and be present, in the moment, in the NOW! When you are fully present, awareness blooms, and through that experience “you” are actually, really, born – to live and not simply exist!

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Gift yourself the Miracle of Mindfulness


As you start a New Year, gift yourself mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is not an impractical, difficult to do, practice if you understand the concept clearly. It is the ability to just stay engaged in the moment. Because Life is happening only in the present.

After last night’s revelry, it’s possible you slept late and woke up late too. But while you may have woken up, you may not be awake in the true sense. Mindfulness is being awake to the miracle of what’s happening to you in the present.

But the mind is cruel. It doesn’t easily listen to what you want it to do. It slips back into guilt or grief about the past or begins to worry for the future. When you are stuck in the past or peering into the future you are forgetting to look at what is. You are then forgetful, not mindful!

The Vietnamese Master Thich Naht Hahn, also called ‘Thay’ by his followers, helps us with a simple, 3-step process to become mindful. Whenever your mind strays, which is ever so often, bring it back by:

1.     Smiling

2.     Focusing on your breathing

3.     Going about whatever you are doing slowly

Let’s say your mind starts thinking of an important commitment you have to keep, say, an EMI is to be paid. And you don’t have the money nor visibility for the money. As you dwell on what you don’t have, the money in this case, you will start worrying. And soon worry will breed insecurity. Instead, the moment your mind starts to worry, smile, focus on your breathing and bring your attention to what needs to get done to raise the money required to pay the EMI. Mindfulness may not take your problem away. But will help you see a solution instead of simply worrying about a problem. And only a solution can solve a problem, not worrying!

If you like the idea, put it into practice by declaring one day of the week, starting this year, your Mindfulness Day. Spend the entire day doing everything only within the framework of the 3 steps that Thay recommends. Whatever you do, from waking up, brushing your teeth, sipping your coffee, reading the papers, looking out the window, watching a movie, having sex, taking an evening walk, drinking wine, whatever, do it mindfully. Review how you feel at the end of the day. And you will find that it would have been the most beautiful day of your Life. Make sure you have a Mindfulness Day, each week. Over weeks, you will want to make your entire week have Mindfulness Days only!

This doesn’t mean you don’t pursue goals. That you don’t remain aggressive. That you abstain from something.

It only means quit brooding and quit worrying. This will be the best gift you can give yourself this New Year! That’s when you will discover the miracle in Mindfulness.

When you really get this practice embedded in the way you live, you will have a really Happy, because it is Mindful, New Year!