You don’t have to be a meditative buff to learn mindfulness. All you’d need to do is choose what you’d most likely fulfil in a given situation and learn by responding in the most ‘mindful’ way. This would, thereafter, be your ‘cue’ to turn dull routines into rich experiences and identify your hidden emotional patterns, while bringing to the fore the essence of awareness to freeing oneself from their stranglehold — especially in today’s context, with emblematic meanings of what happened and why.
What you also need to have in place to attaining mental composure are the right tools of awareness, since we already have the potential to being our own inner alchemists — to refining, or redefining, alertness. The idea is simple; it is also weighty. Here goes — the physics of consciousness, for instance, parallels emotional alchemy in more ways than one, like the classical cloud build-up and its dispersal. It transforms our somewhat dazed emotional states into clarity and lightness of being.
Mindfulness is more than awareness; it is a state of meditative responsiveness that cultivates the capacity in us to perceive things as they are — from moment to moment. While it is agreed that our focus oscillates rather profligately in the general sense of the term, it conforms itself to a different rung. It is distraction-resistant; it is sustained attention to the movements of the mind itself. Rather than being swerved or captured by a thought, or feeling, our mindfulness monitors our thoughts as they come and go. Mindfulness has its roots emblazoned in the ancient wisdom of eastern philosophy, which holds a refreshingly positive view of human individuality. The strategy places great emphasis on what is right with us — not what is wrong with us, unlike western thought. Not that it is flippant on our disturbing emotions. On the contrary, it views them as covering our essential goodness like the clouds casing the sun.
As psychologist Tara Bennett-Goleman explains, mindfulness brings about a fascinating synthesis of a medley of diverse resources: from Buddhist psychology, focused meditation and Tibetan Buddhism to cognitive science, cognitive therapy and the neurosciences. It also, in the process, unravels new or novel, scientific discoveries behind our emotional alchemy — that mindfulness has the ability to ‘shift’ the brain from disturbing to proactive, positive emotions.
According to emerging research the brain is able to change itself as we learn to challenge our own old inclinations — not just because we are all creatures of habits, but also because we fully understand ‘what-is-what-as-it-is’ with us. The whole purpose, as Goleman summarises, in her perceptive book, Emotional Alchemy, bids fair to modern thinking, as to how we all have the talent to reject a self-defeating emotional impulse in a jiffy.
According to Goleman, we hold the key, or answer, to better outcomes. She details why we dread the emotional contours of fear — for example, the loss that somebody close is going to leave us, or our own self-instilled apprehension that a tiny setback at the workplace means that we’d lose our jobs. To bring home the point, she retells the celebrated sequence from The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy and her companions ultimately get to Oz, thanks to the handiwork of the little dog, Toto, who quietly goes and pulls back the curtain. The result? It ‘exposes’ an old man crouched over the controls, manipulating the mammoth ‘Wizard’ image. This holds credence in real life too.
(The writer is a wellness
physician and author)
Rajgopal Nidamboor