This article was initially published on 5th January 2019.
“Only this moment is life.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
On 5th Nov 2018, I decided to consciously allow Mindfulness into my life. I read a chapter on “Inner Purpose” in the book — “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, in which he states that the purpose of humanity is to be consciously aligned with the present moment. For the spiritually uninitiated, this may sound like a bold claim. But, this message has had a profound impact on me.
Although I had read this book a few times before, something within me responded to this message intently this time. I decided to pursue my Inner Purpose, which is Mindfulness in everyday life. I intended to perform everything with complete awareness–eating, walking, writing, listening, driving, etc.
Below are the benefits I experienced after being mindful every day for past 60 days. Please note that one cannot be mindful throughout the day in the beginning. You have to consciously bring Mindfulness into the little moments of your life. As you invite more and more present moment awareness into your life, it becomes easier to notice that you were lost in thinking.
1. Greater Peace
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” ― Eckhart Tolle
As soon as you are mindful, you will notice the momentum of your mind. Since thinking is the biggest addiction for human beings, one is almost always sleep walking or self talking through his/her life. When you start Mindfulness practice, you will be able to “Wake up” from this walking slumber and realise that most of your thoughts are unnecessary, repetitive and negative.
For example, when you enact an argument with someone in your mind (usually your boss, spouse, friends etc.) and get carried away by self-induced emotions, you realise that this is an absurd and insane way to live. But, most human beings live like this throughout their lives. As soon as you consciously stop and witness what is going on in your head, you will feel a diminishment of stress in your life and peace takes over. Imagine if everybody in the world developed this simple habit.
2. Greater appreciation of little things
“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognise: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”–Thich Nhat Hanh
In mid-December, 40 days into my mindfulness experiment, I visited India for some personal works. I was pleasantly surprised to notice the abundance of nature in the city I visited. I spent a good amount of time observing the movement of trees and feeling the cool breeze embracing my body.
On the other hand , Dubai, the city I live in, has almost no nature. Most trees in Dubai have been planted and thus lack the natural feel to it. Nonetheless, after beginning mindfulness, I started appreciating the little plants in the pavements; the birds chirping in the trees and the wind touching my face. All of this leads to greater peace as discussed above with the added benefit of gratitude for little things.
It’s astonishing how most people spend almost their entire lives not appreciating the little things in life such as the sound of the rustling of trees, the vastness of the sky, the water they drink.
Gratitude has shown to improve the quality of your life and mindfulness is a perfect way to be grateful. Some people may say they have nothing to be grateful for, but what they are missing is that gratitude is required only for the present moment. Even if things are falling apart in your career or personal life, one can appreciate the little things. In time, by being grateful, better things will come.
3. Better communication with strangers.
“The greatest communication is usually how we are rather than what we say.” — Joseph Goldstein
Lot of people have difficulty relating with the people in their lives, let alone total strangers. Usually when people are having a conversation with someone, they are already thinking about the next thing to say. Or worse, they are thinking about something else entirely. How can one expect to form deep meaningful relationships without mastering the art of listening? Mindfulness really helps here.
I’m not saying I have mastered this art in 60 days through mindfulness. But, I will say whatever interactions I have had with strangers have been more meaningful than I’ve ever had before. I believe this is because when you are mindfully listening to somebody; you abstain from mental judgments. People feel safe talking to you and can lower their guard intuitively.
Mindful listening can also benefit your professional life where you will have to meet new people often. By paying attention to your breath and maintaining eye contact frequently (do not overdo this, it will be overbearing) when listening to someone, you can form a deeper rapport with people.
That’s it, folks. These are the key benefits I have experienced in this short time through Mindfulness. Undoubtedly the list would grow the more I practice. In my upcoming posts. I will share a few of the mindfulness exercises I practice regularly.
I believe everybody can experience the above benefits in varying degrees. I suggest you first read few books on Mindfulness to solidify your understanding on why Mindfulness is the key to living a good life. Below are some of my recommendations –
Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer
The Dhammapada by Eknath Easwaran
The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh (Free audiobook available on YouTube)