Have you noticed how you are sitting in the toilet, early morning, to dump it all? When you are sitting the way you are sitting (except if you are with your mobile phone!) what is the quality of your self-talk – are they empowering or disempowering, constructive or destructive? The way you are sitting in the toilet itself has an impact on how your day will develop! Your emotional state you develop without you noticing it, from sitting with your chin up and looking towards top right corner is different than how you will think and feel when you are sitting with your hand supporting your chin and looking towards the bottom left corner! Want to try it?
Healthy Mind cannot be developed by 1-0-1 tablet a day! Catching yourself in the act is what matters most to cultivate a healthy mind – to get rid of the garbage, and to nurture a garden in you! And that requires Mindfulness, because Mindfulness is awareness, awareness of my self-talk, awareness of my emotions, awareness of my physiological positions and alterations in a situation, awareness of my psychological fluctuations in an event etc. The working definition of Mindfulness by Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn’s is: “Awareness that arises by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non- judgmentally!” I highly recommend his book “Wherever You Go, There You Are” as a must read as one step towards developing Mental Health.
Mindfulness is the way forward to cultivate a Healthy Mind. Mindfulness is not a practice – as in practicing Yoga! Mindfulness is a way of life, influenced by the quality of our attitude, core to developing Mental Health! It is not a position of body; it’s the possibilities of mind.
DEVELOPING ABILITY TO PAY ATTENTION
In just the last 30 days, how many suicide cases did you read in the newspapers? As young as a college student to an owner of multimillion-dollar business to the most recent news of a Bollywood actor!
Where is our Pre-frontal Cortex – our Executive Director – driving us when taking decisions? How do you develop that emotional stamina and a clear map of your route towards the destination? Mindful Breathing is the most simplest answer, but perhaps most hardest exercise I will challenge you to do:
to sit down with yourself, for 15 minutes daily, doing nothing, judging nothing, striving to reach nowhere, not getting carried away by the million thoughts that will pop up in your mind as soap bubbles, and just be in the moment, and in the next moment, and in the next, for 15 minutes, daily.
At the heart of Mindfulness is the Mindful Breathing. It is to tell our mind to relax and focus and to calm down the ‘monkey brain’. It can even be used several times a day, almost like pushing a ‘reset’ button. It’s the perfect way to bring us back from the peripheral region to our centre, remain aligned. It is about being connected and becoming aware of your breath, feeling it in the belly region, rising as you inhale and falling you as you exhale, as though surfing on the waves; its influence on our Pre- frontal Cortex is clinically researched and proven!!
Mindful Breathing and its variations can help us develop that calmness to face the storm, help us build the resilience to rise up, bounce back and dance again to the tune of your life, than end it abruptly; in it then we will know to differentiate ‘a bad day’ from ‘a bad life’. More often than not, it is just a bad day, isn’t it, except that we put that through a projector to make it appear in a space in the future, and name it a ‘bad future’, and succumb to the fear of facing that future, and end it all here, now, driven by an unhealthy mind, stemming from unhealthy thoughts, that started from how you were sitting in the toilet and what did you tell yourself about you, without paying attention!!
Mindful Breathing is one technique. There are many other ways of anchoring your moments on one focal point and become aware of it, throughout, for a certain duration. You can regulate your attention while washing dishes or putting clothes in your washing machine. You can regulate attention by chanting mantras, or in your prayer mat, or just sitting in your balcony and fixating your attention on one object. The idea is to do that mental exercise to bring your awareness to that focal point, and remain with it, not allowing it to go with the zillion thoughts that will pop up as bubbles every now and then during that duration.
This should have a tremendous positive effect in many other areas in life too – the calmness you will feel, the grounded-ness you will experience, the balance in decisions, clarity in your thoughts, your awareness of wanting to be in the here and now and to smell the roses on your window-sill than spend in imaginations planning your future garden, discernment of facts from judgments etc.
After all, even a genius playing a cello in the Philharmonic Orchestra will still spend a few minutes to tune her instrument before she begins her play!! Mindful Breathing is a way for us to tune our instruments before we play out our day!
BUILDING AWARENESS OF YOUR BODILY SENSATIONS
We manage our emotions on the go. Hardly do we sit with it, to manage it. Or we seek alternatives to push that aside, and then go down the lane of drugs and alcohol, leading from bad to worse!
Your personalities too create a trap when you are in these situations. For example, an Enneagram Personality Type 4 (Individualist) will switch off the lights, pull down the curtains, buy more bottles, avoid taking bath or brushing teeth, avoid food, and perhaps dig the music archive for old Jagjit Singh ghazals, to indulge in that emotion in spite of it being unhealthy.
A person with awareness will catch himself in the act, and say ‘no’ to the ‘script’ he is playing, and have the audacity to pause, pay attention, and re-write his script. Come home to Thanaloram if you are interested in doing your Enneagram Personality Profile – a great starting point for any meaningful Parivarthan!
Techniques like Progressive Muscle Relaxation, or Body Scan (what we call as Yoga Nidra) etc are also beautiful methods to help us build an awareness of our body sensations. One hour of Yoga Nidra is said to have an impact of six hours of sound sleep – such is its calming and grounding effect. This will have immense impact on our sense and sensibilities, and therefore our ability to face the storm, bend as required and yet rise and be steady after the storm has passed.
If practiced consistently, research has proved that it helps us relieve tensions wherever it is stagnant in our body, and therefore it impacts the stress in us. Most of our physical ailments are nifestation of emotional stress that we are either unaware of or pays less attention to, towards and resolve.
Once the clutters are removed by paying attention, non-judgmentally, and facing them upfront! When one stress meets the other stress, they combine to become a bigger stress and eventually eats up the drive and energy to be anything, therefore resulting in ‘dis-ease’ of mind later becoming ‘disease’ of body.
A friend of mine in Russia once wrote to me how Mindfulness is now developing in her country in contrast to what it used to be during the USSR era, that, someone who has consulted a doctor for even a minor re-alignment of their mind, retuning of their emotions, that would stay in his or her record and will impact his career and many other facets of life. Time has changed. Taking care of Mental Health is not a taboo anymore. Place like Thanaloram hosts guests like you to come and do a proper consultation with both our Ayurvedam doctor and the Mindfulness Coach, and have a comprehensive plan worked out to improve your physical condition and at the same address the root causes deep inside you that is causing the physical condition in first place. Mental Health is the starting point of any attempt towards healthy living, especially post-Covid era.
But the challenge is, some people want to repaint their car and make it look good from the outside. Some others want to rewire their engine and make it strong from the inside.
Which one is You??