Amid the monotony of everyday routines and chores, I found myself staring out the window of my room one fine morning. It had rained the whole night before and it was raining still. As I continued to look out into the park in front of my home, I noticed the vibrant greens of the various plants and trees. The various shades of green spiked my curiosity and I found myself questioning if I had truly ever paid attention to such magnificence before.
Slowly and steadily I shifted my gaze from tree to tree, occasionally alternating my gaze between the trees in the background and the raindrops in the foreground. I was so amazed by the effortless complexity of the moment that I decided to step outside onto the balcony and have a closer look at the scene.
One by one I began noticing the sights, the sounds, the smells, the sensations that had always been around me but I had never felt were present until that moment. The purple petunias, white fragrant mogra blooms, the wet earth, the ants emerging onto the surface after rainwater had flooded their tunnels beneath it, the occasional buzzing of dragonflies as they zoomed past my ear — it was all overwhelming yet satisfying at the same time. I felt myself breathing deeply as opposed to the shallow breaths I had become accustomed to. I removed my slippers and decided to take a short walk around my balcony. It was still drizzling and I found my attention shifting to the way the rain droplets felt on my skin. The cool monsoon breeze that seemed to softly caress my cheeks prompted me to close my eyes for a while and soak it all in.
When I opened my eyes, I noticed little raindrops clinging onto leaves, branches, iron bars, and spiderwebs. Funnily enough, I could recall how one of my seniors in school taught me about surface tension by gently placing her finger on one such droplet and pulling it back slowly to demonstrate its elastic behavior. I could feel the same amazement I had experienced back then, now.
When that memory began to fade a little, I could feel myself becoming aware of children giggling in the distance. The sound was faint, but it brought back a memory that I could see clear as day — that of me asking papa to make a paper boat. As I set sight onto the little stream of water moving into the drain, I could recount a few of the steps, and at the same time I could feel the wonderment I had felt seeing him meticulously work the folds on an old newspaper and how excited I was to let the fragile boat set sail on rainwater that had collected in our balcony back then. As this memory faded, I felt a heavy sensation in my bones, it was relaxation sinking deep into my being — and at that moment, I felt alive!
Just then I heard my mom calling me in and I realized what had seemed like almost an hour, had just been ten minutes.
In those ten minutes, I felt distanced from my current life and yet I was present in the here and now. I had no thoughts of unread emails or notifications on my phone. Even though I still had my routine and chores to get back to, I still had a long day at work to get back to, I still had the deadlines to get back to, and I still had myself to get back to — after those ten minutes, I felt like I had a renewed sense of self. The things that had been bugging me for some time, ceased to have the same effect, in fact, I could feel myself holding my calm and moving without effervescently reacting to any of them. I could focus better and be more attentive to what was being said and done. That entire day I felt like I was more aware of myself and my surroundings and no longer detached from the present. Above all, I felt grateful — for simply being.
In the course of our busy lives, we often forget to pay attention to the here and now. We’re either ruminating about the past or fantasizing (even catastrophizing) about the future. We’re never here. And that creates a dissonance between our actual reality and our perceived reality. That dissonance, in turn, leads to various issues like stress, anxiety, breathing problems, pain (both emotional and physical), overpowering pressure weighing down on our shoulders, and what not!
Mindful practices help us prevent such issues and ailments from occurring and live each day. Mindfulness helps us gain awareness, renew our sense of purpose, reconnect with our inner self, unwind and just simply be. Just ten minutes of mindfulness every single day can help you live a fuller and calmer life.
Once you actively make an effort to focus on the various sensations you’re feeling, bringing your attention to your breath and everything around you at a particular moment, allowing yourself to take note of everything without judgment — you gradually teach your mind to be where it needs to be — in the present.
It’s not that the problems in our lives will vanish from existence if we start being mindful, it’s just that they will have less negative effects on our equilibrium and our perspective would no longer be cynically skewed.
Don’t wait for someone else to tell you how to live a better life. Do one action every day that helps make your life better in the present, and mindfulness is one of those actions.