There are many ways people practice meditation. They also talk about mindfulness in daily activities. Most people equate meditation with an eastern man sitting on a rock in Himalayas while enchanting some Sanskrit word(s). True, but not necessarily. Mindfulness in simple terms means being in the present moment without any judgement on our experience. This blog post is about the activities which require us to be mindful without the goal of “meditating”. The best of both worlds with greater reward to benefit ratio. Easier said than done.
This is not just a preaching or suggestion for implementation, this is what I have seen work for myself, my friends and many other people. Before we get to this, keep in mind that it is not set in stone to follow these activities. Do what you have access to and find interesting and fun to pursue. Let’s begin!
First one is flying kite. As strange it sounds, as efficient it is. When I was ten years old I used to spend three hours flying kite without any regard for homework, food or even the hot sun. It never occurred to me that I was actually meditating until few months ago I did the same thing again. There is something that is really present moment focused in flying a kite. If you lose hang of the string, the kite goes a downward spiral. Or some other fellow meditator might cut its string and yell over his victorious attempt to successfully knock you down! The irony is that this is what focused people do in real life too, move ahead of the passive passengers. The takeaway is to let your inner child come out and fly a kite. If you have never done that before, don’t start now. Start when you are ready with your charkhi (rolled string) and patang (kite)and free time to meditate!
Second one is swimming. The fear of drowning is real survival threat to a human being. This is the very fact that forces us to be really concentrated on the rhythmic movement of our limbs, torso and head at the same time. Even if we are worried about our next work meeting or dinner plan in evening, it forces us to be in the moment. We may be swimming in a pool with limited dimensions but our evolutionary instincts take over our minds and make us move through the waters as if we are being chased by a gigantic alligator. Good enough motivation to get an aerobic workout and meditation practice! Avoid doing in winter season though.
Third one is gardening. Nature is our mother because we have spent millions of years with it while getting nurtured. There is something that is very peaceful and calm that comes to us while being in nature. Gardening is what makes it happen. Agriculture was the second “work” of humans since we developed tools (hunting was the first one in case you were wondering). My uncle practices it in his garden and it makes him very happy when he takes tiny tools in his hands and grow plants. He loves too share his curry leaves, tomatoes and lemons with his friends and relatives. Not to mention that his wife (my aunt) lost kilos when she started drinking herbal tea made of tulsi, ginger and lemon from their garden grown plants! Gardening is very efficient in many ways. First of all it gets our hands dirty and gives us a sense of accomplishment because of the basic fact that we created something. Also, planting a sapling makes our inner child nurture it to see it get mature with time. This again gives us immense pleasure because we gave something to nature as a part of our way of appreciating gratitude. Not to mention we clean up polluted air and save environment. Hell lot of benefits. And before I forget, it makes us vigilant and caring since we have to keep plants safe from weeds and insects that prey on them. Everybody wins!
There are few more techniques that I have seen work for some people and you can incorporate them into your life if it is possible.
Taking care of pets and or small little kids. This is something that make us feel connected to our inner child that we sometimes forget to nurture. These two acts – taking care of pets and being with little kids, gives us a chance to be playful. The opposite of playfulness is not sadness, it is depression. Dr. Brown has written a whole book on this theme! If we give us a chance to grow with our cute little pup or our neighbor’s two year old sweet and bubbly daughter, it can really add sense of lovingness to our life. At least twice a week I make sure that I spend some time with my four year old friend in the park and talk about Shin Chan. It makes me less engaged with my problems and gets me out of my head. And whenever I see little pups I give them a cuddle and click a picture. Awww! When engaging with pets and kids, we are not forced to be in the moment as in swimming, but after a hard day at work it make us really get over our worries and appreciate the happiness we have in our life.
In addition to this I have personally witnessed an old depressed man in my neighborhood get back to proper mental state by following the two acts. One, he used to feed grains to pigeons in the morning after sunrise. And second, he used to go to a neighborhood park which had a small pond and feed ducks living there with dough balls. He used to talk to pigeons and ducks and it seemed strange. But his recovery happened in just a month! Although he was on medication but many patients doing so still not recovering. That was his additional medication. I know that you are not in a bad state of mind but if any of these acts can make you happy, then there is no harm in trying it.
Now, go ahead and work on to incorporate these things in your daily life and reap the benefits. Give your feedback and if there are some activities that you follow, let me know and I’ll try them out. Mindfulness is fun. Enjoy it.