You are wasting each moment that you don’t celebrate!
“I am not able to enjoy my happiness. I have everything that I have wanted in Life. But I am forever fearful of losing all of it. How do I get rid of that sinking feeling in me,” asked a close friend. We were having tea. And I took another sip of the wonderful Darjeeling brew I was having before responding to the question.
First, it is important that we understand Life. Everything that we have with us, our material wealth, our relationships, our Life itself, will be taken away some day. Everything will be gone. Even you will be gone. So the fear of losing something or someone is a wasteful emotion. It serves no purpose thinking that way. Don’t expect that fear not to arise though. The human mind is such that it will spew out such thoughts from time to time. Just don’t given them attention. If you don’t feed that fear, it will go away.
Second, realize that every moment that you don’t celebrate what you have, what is, you are wasting. Living either in the past or imagining a future which has not yet arrived are of no use. Please recognize that the only Life you have is in the present moment.
So, if he has every reason to be happy because he has “everything” he wants in his Life, my friend must celebrate every moment. He must not squander his happiness thinking about the inevitable. Life is like good music. It must be enjoyed fully. When you are listening to music, if you start intellectualizing the moment and say that you are listening to music, then you lose the magic and beauty of the music. So, don’t intellectualize Life. Don’t ask what if. Don’t analyze. Just live the Life you have. Simply be. That is what happiness is.
My Vlog today invites you to pause and reflect on what matters most and why! Viewing time: 3:21 minutes
When you are merely activity-driven, you are never present in the moment!
We met a young lady recently who is obese, has hypertension and complained of her inability to stay focused. As we sipped some filter coffee, she tucked into a badushah (a sweet doughnut!). But even before she had finished eating it, she had checked her phone a few times, she had looked around the café and exclaimed that her Life had become monotonous, predictable and dreary. She confessed that she is simply not able to prioritize and manage her time and tasks effectively; she wondered what she must be doing to fix her “poor attention span” problem.
Many people are in this young lady’s situation – grappling with their home and work schedules, unable to find time for themselves, coping with lifestyle-related challenges like diabetes and hypertension and, overall, just going through the paces of Life, never really being able to live it fully! There’s only one way such people can “re-invent” themselves. They have to learn to be mindful. It’s not a method, it’s an art – and it can be mastered with understanding and practice.
Mindfulness is the ability to just be, to be in the present moment. Many a time, we keep doing stuff – cooking, cleaning, driving, smoking or eating. We don’t concentrate on what we are doing. Our mind is elsewhere. Our activities then are just chores. Our actions are not mindful, they are really mindless, mechanical. Which is why we are unable to “see” that some of what we could be doing is “ruinous”. We know, for instance, that smoking is ruinous, over-eating is ruinous, not exercising is ruinous, worrying is ruinous. But we go on doing these things. Mindlessly. Which is why observing your own Life, and viewing it dispassionately as a third party, helps. When you observe yourself you will realize how mindlessly you go through your days. You simply are going through hurried motions. You are not present in any of your actions. You are merely activity-driven. You are never in the moment. For instance, you are working overtime to send your kids to school – but never pausing to celebrate and enjoy their innocence. You are rushing to finish your bath – but are never enjoying your body. You are eating in a rush – but are not tasting and relishing your food. You are texting away madly – but are never celebrating how much smaller the world has become thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp. You go on worrying endlessly – without realizing that worrying doesn’t solve any problem and only keeps you away from enjoying whatever you have! It is only by being mindful in each moment that you can really understand what about you needs to change.
Try a simple exercise in mindfulness. Make yourself a cup of green tea. And drink it patiently enjoying every sip. Feel the tea energize you as it enters your body. Don’t let your thoughts wander. Be focused on experiencing the tea travel within you. Examine how you felt while drinking it. This experience of being one with the tea, this feeling, is what mindfulness is all about. This is what is Zen. Practice this in everything that you do. When cooking, focus on the recipe and its preparation, on the aroma, on the taste! When driving focus on the road and the joy of navigation; if the traffic is messy, don’t complain, just soak in all that you observe and be grateful for your ability to see, to drive, to own a vehicle or simply to even be in a vehicle – compared to so many others who don’t have all that you do! When on Facebook, celebrate the opportunity to connect with the world, your world. Every time your mind wanders, to a past event and makes you feel guilty or to a future event and makes you anxious, bring it back to attend on whatever you are doing now. Remember the human mind is like the human body. It will resist any change first. But repeatedly bringing the mind back to focus on the present, you can train it to let go of the past and to not indulge in the future.
Please don’t treat this suggestion of the “green tea experience” as a one-off experiment in Zen. Every once in a while step aside from your Life and observe yourself. As a third party. You will then discover how much you have to change for your Life to change! Conversely, only when you are fully present in each moment, are you alive in it. It is only then that you are living the moment fully. When you live each moment fully, you will realize its value. And through this realization, you will be able to transform yourself – your priorities, your work, your health and your Life!
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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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Your Life is ticking away and every second you don’t live, is a Life moment lost – forever!
My neighbor turned 60 yesterday. So we went over to greet and wish him. He said that all his Life he kept imagining that a shashtiabdapoorthi (the ceremony to ring in someone’s 60th) happened only to other people. “Now to have it done for me, I feel strange,” he confessed.
I thought about my neighbor’s sentiment over coffee this morning. It reminded me of something that I have only now, in the last decade or so, learned to practice in my Life. Which is to live each moment fully with whatever is.
For the longest time, I lived my Life, striving hard to make it perfect. I slaved away earning a living, hoping that some day, in the future, I will put up my feet and be happy. And then the bankruptcy happened in end-2007/early-2008. And everything material, that Vaani and I had put together, got taken away from us. It was when we were mourning our losses, grieving over our fate, that the awakening happening. We realized that because we were attached to things and we has been trying to be very good at earning a living, in trying to make our lives perfect, we hadn’t lived at all. That’s why we hadn’t seen the beauty of Life, of our lives, and we had missed all that was flowing around us. It is only when we stopped expecting our Life to be any different, that we saw the perfection in Life’s ways, its timing of our lives’ events, our experiences, our learnings, our inner growth and our joys! In fact, I am eternally grateful to our catharsis, our bankruptcy, for helping us understand that living is more important that merely earning a living. And to imagine that this awakening emerged from our deepest sorrow, from our darkest moment! Since then we have only been living in the moment, and from moment to moment!
In Life, with Life, it is always, and only, what it is. So, stop expecting your Life to be any different from what it is now. And flow with it. Over time, Life will change. Your Life will change. And when you look back, you will find that had it not been for what you have gone through, you will not be the person who you are today and you will not have got to where you are too! So, don’t insist that your Life be any different, instead live it for what it is.
The truth is every moment that you invest in anger, worry, grief, guilt, hatred, fear or in any other negative, debilitating emotion, is a moment that’s gone unlived. Please don’t think you have all the time. Honestly, you don’t have time. So, hurry! Live urgently!! Now!!! Your Life is a limited period offer and it can and must be lived only when it, the offer, your lifetime, lasts!