After seeing all the positive energy that he had been spreading all around, I took a chance and requested Pranav Kale to contribute to my webspace. I am extremely pleased to report that he obliged, and I couldn’t have asked for something more powerful and positive to celebrate Women’s Day with all of you. Thank you Pranav. Over to him-
I must say that writing this article was a challenge. It really was!
I will tell you why, but firstly a bit of introduction.
My name is Pranav and I am the Founder of Towards Fulfilment. Through Towards Fulfilment, my intention is to use meditation techniques to empower people to live their lives more mindfully. I am a firm believer that ‘Mindfulness’ has the potential to solve most of the man-made problems in the world. With that mission in mind, I have taught meditation to people suffering from issues like addiction, anxiety, depression, obesity, etc.
What is Mindfulness?
The reason I earlier said that it was a challenge to write this article was because I have always struggled to explain the concept of ‘Mindfulness’ to people.
The reason I struggle is because Mindfulness is an experience and it is extremely difficult to translate that experience into words. Talking about a vacation is different than actually experiencing it, right? Are you with me?
I’d like to say that mindfulness, by definition, is simply bringing your attention to the present moment. It is a state of ‘being’, where we focus on the present moment and become aware of our thoughts, emotions, body sensations, mental images etc.
As we begin to meditate, we get a clear insight into our thought pattern and emotions. We come to realise what they mean when they talk about “inner peace” We also realise how we suffer in our day to day lives because there is always something to worry about. As we begin to investigate the mind, we come across mind states like goodwill, generosity, compassion, concentration and also ill-will, hatred, jealousy, anger, fear and so on.
As we become more and more aware of our minds, we learn to make wiser choices in life. We clearly see how unwholesome states like fear and anger bring us suffering and how letting go of these thoughts is a choice we have to make. Mindfulness is thus, a process of the purification of the mind.
Why do we need to Meditate?
It is amazing how little we care about our mind. We brush our teeth, we bathe, we workout, all that jazz. But do we put efforts to nurture our mind? Just like a workout for your body is essential, the mind also needs it’s own drill. Meditation is the gym for your mind.
Our happiness is dependant on our inner well-being. It is not a product of our external circumstances. One of the striking images that comes to my mind is that of the African kids dancing. So much love and joy! And yes, that peace, the sense of freedom and joy is present despite the hardships they face. It clearly shows that human happiness is not only dependant on the money and the comforts that we have, but is purely a state of our minds. It is essential that we put enough energy in understanding our mind and exercising it. That will enable us to let go of things that harm us and nurture the things that bring bliss and greater happiness for our well being, the community and that of the whole world.
How does meditation help?
Oh well, another crucial question to answer.
Because there are no standard answers.
The ‘benefits’ obviously vary from person to person.
I have worked with addicts, who reported that ‘Mindfulness’ allowed them to have better relationships with their fellow addicts.
I trained a girl who had appetite and sleep issues and was on medication for the same. She started meditating and in just 3 weeks, she didn’t feel the need to consume the medicines anymore.
I have a friend who writes beautiful poems. As she started meditating, her thought process became even more creative and she got better at writing poems.
Sounds like magic, doesn’t it?
So like I said, the benefits could vary. If you are still looking for a few bullet points… well here they are –
Benefits of mindfulness –
Reduced stress and anxiety
More compassion towards yourself and everyone around you
Better relationship with afflictive emotions like depression, anger, sadness, etc.
Clarity of thoughts, etc.
Again, you have to understand that this is me trying to paint the picture of the actual experience. You will all have to explore this for yourself. :)
Now, I want to end this article with a ‘What Mindfulness is not’ section. It is essential to do that, considering the amount of misconceptions that float around it.
Misconceptions about Mindfulness
1. Mindfulness is about having a thoughtless mind.
No it isn’t! Thoughts will come and go. We need thoughts and emotions. The function of our brain is to think. We practice the art of free flowing thoughts. We aspire to have better quality of thoughts. So, do not be discouraged by the thinking mind.
2. Mindfulness is about pleasant mind states
I can spend hours and hours talking about this. If you think that the purpose of Mindfulness is to cultivate ‘pleasant mind states’, like calmness and bliss… well, you are going to be unpleasantly surprised. Calmness will come, not denying that. But so will, anger, anxiety and all of that!Wanting to have pleasant mind states is another attachment that we need to dissolve. Mindfulness encourages us to watch all the mind states (pleasant and unpleasant) with awareness. It is a purification process and not a bliss ride.
3. Mindfulness makes you emotionless
In fact, it makes you more compassionate towards yourself and people around you. When you look into yourself and the patterns that bring suffering, you become kind to yourself.When you see your own suffering, you realise that all the people around us are in the same boat, with different set of their own problems and suffering. This insight enables us to be kind and compassionate towards them. We judge less and love more.
4. Mindfulness is only for Monks
NOT. This practise can be taken up by anyone. It doesn’t expect you to wear a robe or go isolate yourself in the mountains. Mindfulness brings more peace, freedom and happiness to everyone.
For far too long, we have suffered. We have succumbed to emotions like fear, anger, hatred which has resulted in global suffering. We have an opportunity to make better choices and make this world a better place. Join in?
I gladly invite you all to explore this path for yourself. :)