Mindfulness – The Return to Innocence

August 8, 2020

The work of the mind is thought. Our ability to entertain multiple thoughts comfortably at once makes the mind the virtue that it is. In a complex world, you want to be able to process things rapidly, connect dots, make meaning, decipher things, and work around concurrent tasks. A great mind simplifies the complex and make living less tedious. Yet, the virtue, when it starts to sink in the unending complex and simple tasks that the world never stops throwing at it, it may start to grit in its own way. 

Often , as I get to oversee several things I work on, I am in constant battle to keep my mind in a single place. Trying to manage all the progress and obstacles from one mind soon starts to take it toll on productivity. As a person who cares much about my productivity, that is a problem. So I started to work on it. 

There’s a mundane saying that makes a lot of sense.

While washing dishes one should be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing dishes.

Nhat Hanh

As shorter version goes

While washing the dishes, wash the dishes.

I think this is the simplest description of mindfulness you will find or the simplest prescription. There are certain tasks that you cannot simply take your mind off. Driving, operating a heavy machinery and so on. For something as mundane as washing a plate, your mind is likelier to wander. Keeping the mind on the plates, noticing the swashes of water around the sink and the lather as it replaces the particles in the plates and then get washed away itself, that suddenly becomes less easy.  In my early trials, I lamented failing at that, as I continued to work on the workings of my mind.

With a few more readings, I gathered that not only are almost all minds meant to wander, the task of mindfulness is in constantly returning the mind to the present. That was a breather.  So I started to practice that instead. I worked on constantly returning my mind to the present.

Why is this even important at all? I think we start to lose the magic of life when we do not wait to experience it. Mindlessness makes an experience less fulfilling. I think you age faster, because everything seems to be at a speed where you are constantly behind, constantly trying to catch up. Thinking about that alone is tiring. To fully enjoy the gift of life, we need to be keep our mind on it as it happens. We need to be able to witness the emergence, discovery, happening, lingering and the passing of things, and of the people that are within and without us.  

Mindfulness may also be connected to gratitude. When you lose sight of your present and your mind is always in the future, you are less likely to be appreciative of the things that your past has given you. Gratitude is looking backwards, and at the present and coming to full realization of the gifts that you have and being appreciative of them. You cannot be grateful for the future because your gratitude will be inaccurate. Therefore, returning the mind to the present deals the mind the capacity to be fully grateful. Given that we return our gratitude both to the supernatural and the people around us, mindfulness means we can also improve our relationships with people, because we become fully aware of how supportive they may have been to us. And in the case where they or we have been toxic, we come to a proper realization of this and do our best to form bonds that only moves us forward and are less harmful. This ability to evaluate by increasing our awareness of the present is likely to raise the quality of our lives. 

Mindfulness is even more important to me because of my interest in design and creative writing. For design, I need to be fully aware of the things that make things work, and other points in a system, obvious or not, that affect the quality of a work being done. Having my mind constantly running a rigorous mill makes my process difficult and less effective. Thus, relentlessly returning my mind to the present, preceding events and being fully aware of my surroundings or the things that I am training my eyes on, is critical to my productivity and growth. Writing demands the same. Thus, the less attention I am able to share with the present, the less successful I will be at these things.

Getting to be mindful is therefore not as easy as snapping one’s fingers. It takes some work. For some people, they take to meditating to train their minds to be more mindful. Given the amount of people who use this, I believe it produces results. However, I have not been successful at bringing myself to meditate in the way that is popularly prescribed. To sit in a corner with folded arms or legs, when I am not praying, has so far called for some commitment I have been unable to give – similar to my early morning jogs.

So far, I have tried a few things that are working. I more often work in two hour chunks where within a two hour period, for which I usually set a countdown timer, I spend 90 percent of my time thinking and working on just one thing. I try as much as possible to postpone anything that comes up within this period that does not fall within the chosen task. I have not done a proper evaluation yet, but I believe I have been able to manage my mind better while at work. I hope to learn more about how to improve my mindfulness without jeopardizing my ability to keep several task running concurrently. I want to live life in its fullness. There’s not much to it otherwise.

Photo by Aa Dil from Pexels

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