Embracing the Beauty of the Present Moment – Issue #106 (8 min read)
My dear Readers,
As the auspicious occasion of Diwali is here, I extend heartfelt thanks for being the light in my writer’s journey. Your support fuels the effort behind every issue. May this festival bring joy, prosperity, and fresh beginnings into your lives. Grateful for your presence and excited for more chapters together.
“Mindfulness is the only virtue. To be aware means to be in control; not of the outside, but of the inside.” – Osho
Throughout our lives, we find ourselves swept away by a river of memories, regrets, and anxieties about the future. Often, this torrential current blinds us to the beauty and essence of the present moment. The concept of mindfulness offers us a bridge to cross this river and reach a shore where every moment is cherished and experienced in its entirety. In this edition, I delve deep into the profound lessons embedded in mindfulness, illustrated through personal experiences and timeless tales.
An Enlightening Tale from Osho Rajneesh
During my college years, a powerful source of wisdom for me was the teachings of Osho Rajneesh. Among the many gems he shared, there was one story that stood out, offering clarity about the nature of human attachment and the power of letting go.
Two monks, a seasoned elder and a novice, embarked on a spiritual journey. Their path brought them to a river where they found a woman, hesitant and fearful of crossing. In a spontaneous act that seemed to contradict their monastic vows of not touching women, the elder monk gently carried her across the waters.
As they continued their journey, the younger monk’s mind was in turmoil, wrestling with what he perceived as a breach of their sacred code. Hours later, he finally voiced his disquiet, seeking an explanation. The elder monk responded with profound simplicity, “I left her at the river’s edge. Why do you still carry her in your heart?”
This narrative encapsulates the essence of mindfulness – the art of living in the moment without being shackled by past actions or future apprehensions.
In June 2001, our family faced a harsh reality: my mother was diagnosed with cancer, giving her only six months to live. Confronting this grim future, we decided collectively to empower ourselves—to cherish every remaining moment with her. This marked our introduction to the transformative power of mindfulness.
This journey wasn’t without pain, fear, or uncertainty. Mindfulness taught us to confront these emotions not as adversaries, but as companions on our path. We learned to center ourselves in the present, savoring shared laughter, tears, and quiet moments imbued with profound meaning.
In embracing the present, we stumbled upon a paradoxical truth: time, in its essence, isn’t just about the ceaseless ticking of a clock. It’s about the richness of experiences, the memories we forge, and the bonds we nurture.
I think her ability to combat cancer and regain health is likely more connected to the strong bond we formed than the impact of medicine.
At its core, mindfulness is a straightforward concept. It’s our inherent ability to be entirely present, fully engaged with where we are and what we’re doing. It’s about not being reactive or overwhelmed by what’s unfolding around us.
Buddha’s teachings highlight that much of our suffering is self-crafted, brewed within the cauldrons of our minds. It underscores that genuine well-being, or ‘Deep Health’, is inextricably linked to mindfulness.
Incorporating Mindfulness into Daily Life
Observation: Start by observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment. See them as they are, like watching clouds pass across the sky.
Focused Breathing: Regularly take a few minutes to focus solely on your breathing. This simple act anchors you to the present.
Engage Fully: Whether you’re eating, reading, or walking, be wholly present in that activity. Experience it fully, from the flavours of your food to the sensation of the ground under your feet.
Mindful Listening: When someone speaks to you, listen with your whole being. Hear not just their words, but also the emotions and meanings layered beneath.
Life, with its ebb and flow, offers a blend of joyous and challenging moments. Mindfulness doesn’t promise a life free from pain, but it offers a lens to view and experience life in its raw, authentic form. It teaches us that the true beauty of life is encapsulated in the present moment, which, when embraced, can unveil a world filled with endless possibilities.
Introspection is a vital aspect of mindfulness. Here are some reflection questions designed to deepen your understanding and practice of mindfulness:
Awareness: Right now, what sensations can you identify in your body? Can you feel the texture of your clothing, the temperature of the air, or the surface you’re seated on?
Thoughts: What thoughts are passing through your mind at this moment? Can you observe them without judgment, letting them flow like leaves on a river?
Emotions: Can you name the emotion you’re feeling right now? Is there a physical location in your body where it seems to reside?
Breath: How does your breath feel? Is it deep or shallow, fast or slow? Can you feel the air entering and leaving your nostrils?
Sounds: Close your eyes. What sounds can you hear right now, both near and far? Can you listen without labelling or judging?
Presence: Think about your current surroundings. How present are you in this moment, on a scale from 1 to 10?
Acceptance: Are there any feelings or thoughts you’re resisting right now? What happens when you acknowledge them without trying to change them?
Daily Life: Think about a routine task you did today (e.g., brushing your teeth). How mindful were you during that activity?
Gratitude: Can you identify one thing you’re grateful for right now? Why does it evoke gratitude?
Reactions: Reflect on a recent situation where you had a strong emotional reaction. How might that situation have differed if approached with mindfulness?
Eating: The last time you ate, how mindful were you of the taste, texture, and aroma of your food?
Nature: When was the last time you truly observed nature, be it a tree, a flower, or the sky, without getting lost in thought?
Body Scan: Starting from your toes and moving to the top of your head, can you mentally scan your body and notice any areas of tension or relaxation?
Impermanence: Reflect on the transient nature of your thoughts and feelings. Can you recall an emotion that felt overwhelming in the past but eventually passed?
Kindness: How do you typically react to distressing thoughts or feelings? With criticism or kindness? What might change if you responded with compassion?
Use these questions periodically to check in with yourself, promoting a deeper connection to the present moment and fostering a more mindful perspective on life.
As you move forward, I encourage you to pause, breathe, and immerse yourself in the present. The treasures you’ll discover in these moments are unparalleled.
All illustrations are by Kratika Singhal