Recently, my cousin asked me a question: “Sarika, I notice that my [teenage] son’s attention span has diminished; it’s almost like he has a lack of focus, and also, he is becoming less loving over time. He’s also addicted to technology and TV. I myself want more from life, greater satisfaction, but I don’t know what to pursue next. What can we do about this growing lack of love and satisfaction?”
I told her about my experience with meditation and mindfulness, and how important it was during my recent personal growth; and hopefully, my journey going forward. I shared this with her:
All these years, I had been conditioned to live through my brain (having studied engineering and my MBA). While it helped me navigate the real world, over time, led me to feel a sense of dissatisfaction with life. What is the purpose of all this technological/scientific development if it is leading to greater depression, loneliness, and pent-up trauma (apparently most people in the US are accumulating trauma by our fast-paced lives, disconnection with nature and negative thinking)? Certain events at the beginning of 2012 (and my personal sense of grief and loss) led me to really question myself, my purpose in life, why these things happened.
Only after a year of meditation practice did I understand the very fundamental truth in life: that each of our thoughts have the power to create our present and future. Every single one. It has even been scientifically proven through many interesting studies, and now there is a whole science related to it – quantum physics. Sure, we have things we need to learn (related to our karma), but we have the power to stop their continuation once we have observed/acknowledged/appreciated their role in our lives, and have offered forgiveness for ourselves and others involved in these situations.
I had been living through my rational mind, with uncontrolled thoughts, many of which were creating stories in my head. “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” ― John Milton. What’s interesting is that we normally think in a very unconscious manner, and don’t have clear intentions – and then unconscious activities occur around us – situations which we didn’t think we had a role to play in. Most of our thoughts go unchecked – and many are subconscious.
Through mindfulness practice, one learns to connect with their breath first, and in a calm manner, begin observing all their thoughts, throughout the day, without judgment. While walking to school or work, you say, oh, I feel sad, I wonder why? And then you dig into it a little more, allow the thoughts to float, observe how it makes your body feel, your reactions. And then you let them go – and go back to your breath, or the task you are doing. You learn to accept the humanness of yourself. You learn to be present and aware for your thoughts, your body and the environment around you.
Through the practice, I have found such a sense of inner peace, love, joy, contentment, gratitude; and can concentrate longer, with greater intensity. Moreover, I now feel like I am living through my heart and body, in most of my thoughts and decisions. It has brought such magical occurrences in my life. We need to integrate our minds, bodies and souls in order to find greater happiness, to understand and pursue our passions, whatever they may be.
I think it is essential that we begin incorporating it it into our personal lives – and when we do it with our our families, is very beautiful.
I have noticed that when one does it for themselves, others follow. For instance, when I was in India visiting my family, I began to observe a moment of silence to say a gratitude prayer before my meals. At first, my parents were a little stunned, and my sisters were amused (as they know about the practice); but over time, my family began to accept it. It even reached a point where, before we began a large dinner celebration with my sister’s in-laws at an upscale restaurant, my dad asked me to say grace!
Mindfulness is transformative, no matter at what age, and in which context – everyone can be a practitioner and find themselves more present and satisfied with life.