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What does it mean to be mindful?

Mindfulness is about focusing on the present, paying respect to the act that you are submerged in.

Now, let’s say, you are in fact drinking a cup of tea and want to do it mindfully. How will you do this? You will have to introduce some discipline in your thought. It is natural that while you are drinking your tea, your mind may wander — you may think of your dog, your boss, your partner ... what will happen in the process? You will veer away from the act of drinking tea. When you gain consciousness of this straying, and bring your mind back to the center, to the tea, you are acting mindfully.

So, does mindfulness mean not thinking so much?

We are not saying stop thinking. We are saying that multiple thoughts, about the past and the future, take away from the present. Thinking about the past often induces a kind of regret, whereas thinking about the future can introduce anxiety. The present is the only time that exists. Much stress is caused in us when we forget this.

If the present is the only time that exists, are we supposed to forget bad things that happen to us, like a fight, or a time when we did something wrong?

It’s not that one forgets — we are not machines. But to use machine language, the goal is to re-wire our minds so that from now, this moment on, we can stop a chain of bad karma and begin doing good deeds. To start a new chain of good karma in the present is the result of mindful thinking.

What are good deeds? What are bad deeds?

It is a tricky thing indeed, this good and bad. Let’s start simply: if we do something with the intention of harming another, or unconsciously, it can never be a good deed. Even if a fly or mosquito is ringing in your ear and you wave your hand in an attempt to kill it thoughtlessly, this is an act that is not done with consciousness, and it is not a ‘good deed’ no matter how annoying that mosquito is. However, consciousness is not the same thing as ownership.

What do we do when something upset us? On a personal or national level? Like a fight with a partner or anger at your country for a certain political policy?

Thinking about the other and assigning blame to them is one of the key reasons why we feel stress, unhappiness, and a sense of imbalance. They key always — whether it is a small or big problem — is to self-reflect and look at one’s own “hardware” (again, I am using a machine term on purpose). When you are talking about the government and how some policies may upset you, you may think of yourself as very much outside of the process. But you are not. Think of your own self as part of change and see what you can do in your own life, through every little action, to make the world better. What I am saying is look inside. The outside will reflect.


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