Be alive in each moment by being present in it

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!
We met a young lady recently who is obese, has hypertension and complained of her inability to stay focused. She said she is simply not able to prioritize and manage her time and tasks effectively. 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-engineer” and “reinvent” themselves. They have to learn to be mindful. It’s an art – and it can be mastered with understanding and practice.
Mindfulness is the ability to be, to stay 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. Which is why we are unable to “see” that what we could be doing is “ruinous”. We know, for instance, that smoking is ruinous, over-eating is ruinous, not exercising 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. 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 the experience of drinking that tea. Examine how you felt while drinking it. This experience of being one with the tea, this feeling, is what mindfulness is all about. Follow this method in everything that you do. When cooking, focus on the recipe and its preparation. When driving focus on the road and the joy of navigation. 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.
When you are fully present in each moment, you are 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 work, your schedules, your health and your Life!

Don’t be a fly on a window pane

To get out of a situation that you dislike or despise, first examine how and why you got into it in the first place. What got you in can often get you out.  
Very often we find ourselves in places and contexts that we hate. It could be in a relationship or with regard to your career or your health or your money situation. You may just not be happy being where you are – or being with someone! The normal response is to get frustrated and bitter with yourself, with people around you and with the situation. This isn’t going to help. You have to get out of the situation by going out the same way that you got in. A simple analogy is to consider the plight of a smoker – he or she often detests the idea of chain-smoking. In private, she or he will confess that they feel lousy every time they light up. Yet they keep suffering because the only way they can stop feeling that way is by quitting smoking. They got into smoking from not smoking. They have to get out of smoking by not smoking. Simple. Period. If you recall seeing a fly on a glass pane you will understand this better. The poor fly does not know how to go past the closed window’s glass pane, into the garden, and so, pathetically, it keeps knocking itself on the glass pane until it loses its energy and falls dead on the window sill. Poor fly. All it had to do was to turn around and go out the same way it came in – through an open door or window. Now, a fly can be forgiven for being stupid. Not you and me! We have been endowed with an intelligence that demands that we don’t battle situations mindlessly.
This approach applies to all our daily emotions too – anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, anxiety, worry. Every day living is full of situations that force us to experience some or many of these emotions daily. At times, especially when we are making an effort to transform ourselves, the very thought that we allowed these emotions to take root and rule us, makes us feel disgusted. There’s no point getting angry over having gotten angry. Go to the cause of your anger. Go to the cause of why you fear someone or something. Go to the cause of your worry. When you can go to the root and uproot that cause you can be free of whatever you despise and whatever holds you hostage.   

Face your inner demons to change yourself

When you need to change yourself, you must face yourself – your inner demons and the brutal reality of your Life.
There’s a beautiful parable I remember reading in Daniel Gottlieb’s ‘Letters to Sam’. Once a man came back home late in the night to find that he had been locked out of his house. His neighbour saw him searching for the key under the streetlight and he too joined the search. Soon several other neighbors joined in the search wanting to help their distressed neighbor. After a while, one of them asked the man where he had last seen the key he was searching for. “Near the front door,” replied the man. The neighbor was puzzled. “Then why are you looking for it down here by the streetlight,” he asked. “Because the light is better here,” came the reply! Gottlieb shares the moral of this parable saying that when we are looking for answers in Life, we intuitively go where the light is better. Because it is convenient to search! But sometimes, says Gottlieb, for real transformation to happen, we must go where it is dark!
To be sure, no one likes to face the truth. The truth always is uncomfortable. Even thinking about it leads to a gnawing feeling arising within, doesn’t it?
Almost a decade ago I had a tobacco habit. For years since my early adulthood I had been chewing tobacco. I tried to give it up many times in those years. But every time I attempted, my resolve would break in few weeks because my mind would insist that I needed that habit, that crutch, to help me deal with the stressful Life I kept. So, I would capitulate and allow the habit to take over. But soon I would start feeling guilty – and depressed – with my inability to quit. Then one day, my doctor told me, that with the way my medical reports were reading, I would not live to be 40! I was 36 then. He held a mirror to me. And for the first time I faced my fear of my death. It was a very scary and, at the same time, awakening moment. I must confess that every time I popped tobacco into my mouth, I would always think of cancer and death. But I would brush aside the thought telling myself that since death was inevitable I would face it whenever it came. Besides, I vainly kidded myself that the habit helped me relax – when in reality it actually made me feel guilty and fearful, every single time that I chewed. But that moment in the doctor’s clinic was different. I clearly understood the import of what he was saying. I knew that if I continued this way, I was sure to die in the next few years, maybe as the doctor had estimated, by the time I was 40! I quit chewing that instant. I did not even heed my mind urging me to pop one last sachet of tobacco as I left the clinic and got into my car to drive back home. I simply quit. Period. When I look back now, I feel that it had been possible to quit – and abstain ever since – only because I had faced what I feared most – the reality about where I was headed with my habit and my lifestyle.
Interestingly, all of us know what’s right for us. We know the futility and the ruinous nature of some of the choices we have made and continue to make. It is our inability to face our realities that keeps us running down the path of escapism. The more we run, the more we live haunted lives. The more we run away from the truth the more we struggle to change, to transform.
It is only when you stop, turn back, and face your inner demons that you will truly transform. When you allow the truth about yourself to hit you, you will wake up to be the change that you wish to see in you – and in your world.