Mindfulness for millennials: How to press pause and disengage from the noise
“Forever is composed of nows” ~ Emily Dickinson
The biggest strength of millennials is their open-mindedness to learn; they are sharp, educated and smart. The challenge, however, is ‘distraction’. The overdose of social media and the virtual world could potentially throttle their individuality. An inordinate time on the electronic world tends to disconnect one from his or her feelings and needs.
Two simple practices could help hone your present moment awareness: periodic fasting from smartphones and practice ‘observation’.
A modern variant of traditional fasting is giving up your gadgets for some time in a week. In many
monasteries, monks occasionally fast from cooked grains and rice. Besides the spiritual benefits, this gives rest to our digestive system. The body releases toxins and you feel an overall sense of wellness. Likewise in our internal world, a lot of clutter gets flushed out when we ‘fast’ from social or electronic media. We could for a change experience ‘real’ exchanges. Interestingly, when animals are sick, they refrain from eating; similarly if you feel ‘sick’, then avoid chats and Facebook updates. Instead, get smart and keep your smartphone aside.
Secondly, you could try simple ‘observations’, where you gently pull the mind back to the present and remove judgments.
Once I was on a flight, and saw a passenger stand up from his seat. His eyes were red and his forehead wet with perspiration. He looked around, his face twitching, and then with a sudden grin, he hurriedly sat down again. A few seconds later, he rose again and paced up and down the aisle, murmuring to himself. The lady who sat next to him was reading a book, but occasionally she would look at him, her lips curled in
an expressionless countenance. He’s definitely angry with his wife, I thought to myself. Then I instantly realised I’d made a judgment. After all, how could I say he was ‘angry’ or she, his ‘wife’? Then I admonished myself for ‘judging’ the man and that again was a judgment! This time, I gently said to my mind, “Please come back dear mind and observe without judgment.”
If you say Rohit Sharma is a great batsman, that’s a judgment. Alternatively, if you said Rohit scored three centuries, including a double century, you have simply observed. When you observe without attaching labels, you release yourself from your disarrayed mind and enter a higher dimension of reality. This is a platform beyond your own biases and prejudices.
Often we err because we observe little and analyse a lot. Instead, if we observe more and judge less, it’s likely that we will see the real picture and paradoxically, improve our judgment! Observation practices are like bright sunshine; they help us remove the fog of confusion and bring clarity.
Therefore, more than ever before, we need to now pause, disengage from the loudness of it all, and look at the vast expanse of the sky above our heads. Let’s connect deeper to our own inner selves and catch the grace around us.
This piece was authored by Venugopal Acharya. His book, Mind Your Mind: Three Principles for Happy Living is out on Hachette India, INR 299.