There’s not enough cash to pay for my return air ticket. I know for certain that I cannot bear the torture of being a housemaid or a washroom cleaner anymore. The airport administration will give me only a few more hours, to experience the luxurious comfort and sit in a lobby under the warm air of a heater. My eyes found themselves continuously rolling up and down along the same page of a magazine, which covers my helpless and clueless face from the queer strangers that busily passed by. However, when I blinked my eyes again and waited, I pictured a cozy bed and room with good food and caring and sharing parents and siblings. I came into a solid understanding that it was only because of my undisciplined chain of thoughts that I have mischievously crept into an unknown country and invited all the troubles deliberately when everything was going good here at home…
Currently experiencing travel restrictions and being caged inside our houses, many people, especially young students will definitely have gone through some irritating feelings regarding their minds and some of them might have even left their minds stranded on far away airports. Nevertheless, slowly but surely the concept of mindfulness can fix this contradicting story. Mindfulness which is a state of mind practiced to focus on the present, helps people to overcome stressful, anxious and worried feelings they are confronted with in their mind, and bring out the maximum potential in them.
In more simpler terms, mindfulness refers to focusing your thoughts on the present situation without dwelling in the past or anticipating about the future. Mindfulness comprises of two elements named, awareness and acceptance. Awareness deals with awakening the mind to the present. Acceptance works with accepting and observing the current stream of thoughts without judging or avoiding them. Living a life with mindfulness and practicing this, will lead to life with greater peace, both mentally and physically. Mindfulness based therapies are frequently used to address stress, anxiety, pain and calm oneself down. Creeping into the origins of the concept, one can learn that this concept has had its roots from the Buddhist and Hindu concept of ‘sati’. This eastern stream of knowledge was passed onto the west through the work of Jon-Kabet Zinn, who ultimately brought mindfulness into mainstream clinical practice. Mindfulness is regarded as one form of meditation which can be performed within or outside of formal meditation. This practice could be carried out along with any activity, simply as when taking a walk or being engaged in a conversation.
Imagine yourself a week away from your college’s final exams. You’ve had a bad week so far, scoring a little above the average in your mid semester exams. To make the situation worse your secret relationship with your boyfriend has been caught by your parents, so all your connections with the outer world have now been heavily restricted. On the other hand, you harbour the constant fear that you would fail in the exam. You worry a lot about not having worked hard for the previous exams. Letters do not pour out from your pen due to this sole reason, and you are very much worried about your past and the uncertain future. You live a senseless live, forgetting things, not concentrating on your studies and you cannot even finish the daily household chores in a neat and systematic manner. Yet, everything mentioned above could be fixed to a certain extent if you practice the concept of mindfulness.
A day full of mindfulness starts with trying to keep your attention only on the task you are carrying out in the present moment. If you are sweeping the compound, you could feel yourself breathe in and out and the sounds that come piercing your ears. You could focus on the sound of the dried leaves, the tiny sounds of the birds, the sweet scent of the flowers, the gentle touch of the breeze and the warm temperature of the mild sun rays. Your weary eyes could pay attention to the messy compound, which gradually will turn into a neat and tidy place. Scrolling through social media and gulping down your dinner could be replaced by keeping away the phone and starting to concentrate on how food with various shapes and tastes, will pass down your throat towards the stomach. These simple techniques apply to any task. Concentrating only on the task at hand, helps to reduce unwanted feelings that hover above our minds, preventing us from achieving a successful task completion.
As Jon Kabet- Zinn the father of mindfulness in the western world says, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”. There may be instances where the sea may be rough, but practicing mindfulness will aid us to surf through these harsh waves without the fear of drowning. Review studies suggest that practicing mindfulness is a good way to reduce anxiety, pain, stress and depression. Mindfulness also plays a role in helping break bad habits and enhance relationships. This can also help people better cope with rejection and social isolation. When someone is fully aware about their senses and the environment, they automatically obtain the ability to accept their presence. They are fully aware about which action will lead to which consequence. This indirectly paves way to a satisfied and peaceful life with a smaller number of troubles. Being mindful while maintaining social relationships helps to build up stronger bonds knitted with kindness, empathy and better mutual understanding. The world famous quote by Mother Theresa which reads, “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more”, reflects on the concept of mindfulness which has a timely importance. Sometimes it would be hard to embrace the present and stop worrying about the past and future, nevertheless it reminds us to live simply and in the present. In short, we should be content and grateful for what we have got.
You may be staring at an empty sheet of paper ready to start an assignment wondering what will happen if you write it badly or maybe, you are reviving the dark memories about how you got blamed by your teacher for scoring the lowest mark from your class in a previous exam. You may picture yourself stranded in an airport without any help at the same time. On the other hand however, as unfortunate as it is, you may have forgotten that the past and the future has no authority to ruin your present. Keep in mind that you do not lie clueless on a faraway airport, but you lie in the comfort of a bed enjoying good meals and parental love. Practicing the concept of mindfulness and living in the present moment would definitely be the silver line among all the looming dark clouds in your mind and always beware not to get stranded in faraway airports!
– Rtr Ashmini Karunarathne
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