Currently, a hot rage in western psychology, mindfulness has been the key objective of oriental wisdom and meditation since time immemorial. It is the state of being fully present in a situation; physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Inner wisdom stresses that you should be able to ‘see things as they are’ and ‘give the appropriate response to what you encounter’. It is mindfulness that actually helps us with the first part of this quest. In order to see things as they are one must be able to see things without personal judgment and emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, guilt or desire interfering. There is substantial effort required to do this. But it’s certainly worth the effort.

For instance, research by Daphne M. Davis and Jeffrey A. Hayes suggests says that mindfulness or a regular routine that achieves this state can help one feel calmer, less emotionally reactive, boosts working memory, increases focus, reduces stress as well as depression and rumination, increases effective decision-making in new and complex situations. Furthermore, this research also says that a mindful person is more likely to overcome relationship stresses.


If you have hit a glass door that you tried walking through because you didn’t notice it, or forget where you’ve put your car keys on a regular basis, you need to become mindful


If you’re focused and calm, you will most likely be more productive and do more in relatively less time … and better! Mindfulness helps one to self-reflect and if you are able to do that, you will identify and confront your negative emotions and by doing that, according to principles of Chinese medicine, will help you heal yourself emotionally and physically. Psychology has now opened up to the miracles of self- healing induced by mindfulness.

Finally, researchers say that mindful people will feel far less lonely and purposeless once they retire from their careers after their middle age passes.

Here are some tips:

Be deliberate: I swear by this one. I was the kind who would read a newspaper while eating, read the instructions on the shampoo bottle while brushing my teeth, philosophise while driving (that one can be pretty disastrous though, I assure you) etc. Etsko Schuitema, a business transformation consultant, once advised me very kindly to be deliberate in my affairs, especially when I was eating something. He said, “When you eat a samosa for instance, look at it, feel its taste unfolding in your mouth. Feel the salt, the pepper, the individual spices, the taste of the potato and the crust of the coating with each munch and then swallow it. In being deliberate, the simple act of eating a samosa becomes an enchanting experience!”

Old habits die hard, and it’s taken me years to get there. But really, the crux is to be deliberate with the mundane tasks of the day. There’s also a lot of wisdom in phrasing an intent to a task, because it makes you aware of what you wish to do.

So when you brush your teeth, feel the brush cleaning each tooth, feel the water in your mouth when you rinse. Use your senses to receive: In order to be mindful, you’ve got to rid your mind of judgment and replace it with childlike curiousity. Mindfulness gurus and even creative and scientific geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci for instance, used their senses in order to understand, witness and be awed by what was around them rather than to impinge and prevail upon it. Da Vinci particularly used his five senses optimally to learn, explore and appreciate and his drawings and notes tell us that.

Savour the present moment: The only moment where we are actually effective is the moment we are in now. The past has happened and the future has yet to happen. The only time to respond in is the present moment. Eckhart Tolle, the mindfulness guru, suggests that in order to increase your sense of awareness in the ‘Now’, you must go into the ‘no-thought’ state.

Watch your thoughts: If you are overcome with an emotion like anger, worry or bitterness do not fight it. In fact, watch your emotions inwardly as you would an animal at the zoo. Be intrigued by it and ask yourself how this emotion sprung up. The key to resolving an overwhelming and negative emotion is to pay attention to it. Rumi has explained this beautifully in his poem, The Guest House. Mindfully, read it!

Meditation: You could be following any belief system, but sticking to a routine of meditation everyday helps to boost mindfulness. Do it consistently, in a quiet space, for even little spans of time through the day.

Silencing the Internal Dialogue Exercise: In our workshops, we talk about resolving our internal dialogue; the yackity yack which goes inside our head like a script that the mind plays and replays from an old situation or an anticipated one.

Here’s an exercise which mutes the internal dialogue effectively and is most useful to do before a routine meditation. It is a great pre-start to your mindfulness practice. Here’s what you do:

Sit with your back straight, legs unfolded, feet touching the ground and hands resting on the thighs.

Pick a colour and see all the things belonging to that color in the room you are in. Repeat this with three different colours. For instance, spot all the things that are red in the room, followed by all things black in the room, followed by all things green in the room.

Close your eyes and focus on a sound outside the room. It could be the birds chirping, the sound of floors being swept or the traffic. Then shift your attention to sounds from within the room. Like colours, three sounds are to be focused on.

Next, wiggle the toes of a foot and focus attention on it. Take three deep and slow breaths after this.

Finally, open your eyes.

The writer is an Excellence Consultant associated with the Schuitema Human Excellence Group.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, May 10th, 2015

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