SIMPLY BEING

Tag: mind (page 1 of 2)

Pure Sense

Recently I wondered, are we truly capable of experiencing what the senses bring our way?

Because it seems that when we encounter a sensation—pleasant, unpleasant, neutral—the mind faculty steps in to intercept the pure feel of the experience. It then relates the sensation to a past experience, or a future expectation. Or, a scene from a book or film. Or, the mind itself is transported to a past time and place. So, a plate of sev puri takes you back to Andheri railway station, eating street side chaat. A whiff of petrichor brings to mind Kerala, monsoons, loneliness… or perhaps “Rimjhim gire saavan,” featuring a tall, lanky Amitabh Bachchan and a petite, adorable Moushmi Chatterjee. Or you are drawn back to your own youthful romance conducted along the Marine Drive promenade, tetrapods and lashing waves for company.

It doesn’t really matter what images flash across your mind, or where you are transported. You are someplace else, no longer here and now. The taste/touch/scent/sound/sight sensation is not important any more because its sole purpose appears to have been to act as a connector to an ever-expanding trove of memories, ideas, hopes, expectations, fears. And it makes a real proper mess with our idea of time because we are no longer sure… Am I dreaming of the past? Did this event actually occur? Or maybe I am day dreaming? Is this from a film I loved? Or is this something I wished for but it never really happened?Ahh, it is a lovely mess.

This tendency of referring back from an immediate sensation to a story, an idea, a familiar concept is an old habit. These stories and ideas stand in for the actual sensory experience, and what we are feeding off are the stories, not that steel tumbler of filter coffee at MTR, or plate of rajma chaaval from Guru Da Dhaba, or a youthful Aamir Khan crooning “Papa kehte hain…”

(And this is a powerful habit… hence the inability to see that Andaaz Apna Apna is a silly, bad movie!)

And this is also why we sometimes continue to eat foods we don’t really enjoy, or watch films featuring our once-favorite actors, or wear clothes that don’t fit (literally and metaphorically). Why? Because of the compelling stories attached. (And we don’t even derive any actual pleasure from these activities.)

If these stories vaporized, we’d see the experience for what it is, and we could have a spontaneous response to it . “Oh, this sambar is too spicy for me.” “Sonu Nigam has a lovely voice.” “Why do I drink tea twice a day? I don’t really like it.” “I adore wearing my black skinny jeans, I just do!”

And we’d also be able to see that we are truly dynamic beings who can savor and draw pleasure from a variety of experiences… Unlike what the stories might have us believe.

Video: Ego and All that Stuff

You hear so much about how the ego isn’t such a good thing, and that it needs to be “destroyed,” and so on. Well, the ego is an inseparable part of human life, and trying to destroy it is a wasted effort. On the contrary, we can gain a lot from cultivating a healthy ego.

Mind. Watch. Aware.

Mindful. Watch. Awareness.

Sometimes it feels so darned simple. Like there is nothing to do except watch.

Watch what, you ask. Well, watch every thing. Watch the glorious, shining moments and the shameful ones. Watch the missteps and the graceful slide. Watch the faults and the formations. Really, just watch. Suspend all judgments, drop the need to step in and correct. Relax the idea of perfection and improvement.

Just watch.

How does this make me a better person? How does this help me improve my faults?

I don’t really know. I do think that it makes you less sensitive to the good/bad paradigm. It makes you less judgmental, perhaps? Maybe it takes the edge off our collective and constant desire for so-called perfection. It makes us kinder people, probably.

Becoming aware of becoming aware of becoming aware of… I am watching me watching me watching me.

But if all I do is watch, who is responsible for action? Or is that set into motion already? Is it beyond my control? Or maybe it is my watching that subtly alters my action, without directly seeking to influence it?

It feels somewhat like receding into the skin of a container, the outermost layer, the thinnest segment. And watching the contents of the container shift, transform, get replaced. And becoming aware that this container can hold absolutely everything? And sometimes nothing at all.

 

Playing Solo

If it isn’t obvious already (from the previous posts), I am by myself these days, a lot.

The husband is currently traveling for work. I have no children or pets, plus my social life is virtually non-existent, so this means that I spend a good chunk of time in my own company (apart from the time I spend at work with my delightful colleagues). I have also begun to go out for dinner, to movies, on hikes, etc. as a solo person.

All of this is new to me.

I hope this isn’t coming across as pathetic. Indian women are so geared to be in a relationship with someone (parents, husband, children) that this might feel like a rather unconventional picture. Actually, I don’t think it is that unconventional. The truth is that there are many girls like me in other cities, here and in India, living on their own, possibly liking it too.

I have been married for 13+ years, and we, my husband and I, have rarely been apart. However, starting last year, things have been somewhat different. He travels for 3-4 weeks at a stretch, and I am left to my own devices. As I recently discovered, I have quite the fondness for solo time; some days I wonder if I am turning into a semi-recluse of sorts?

But it isn’t always easy-breezy.

There are some evenings when I am at a loss. Something within tells me, ok, now read a book. But I just finished reading a book some time ago. What about watching a film? Okay… not feeling like it. Go out for a walk? Surf the Internet?

There is an urge within to keep moving, one activity to another, stay busy. Keep going, don’t stop until it’s bedtime.

“Keep yourself occupied, so you don’t have time for unnecessary thoughts.” This is some ancient wisdom that I have heard repeated again and again, ad nauseam. Let me be the first one to call BS on this bit of wisdom.

You can run yourself down in this tremendously silly attempt to be busy and occupied. However, your mind is smarter than that. Sure, your body will be exhausted, and you will drop dead/asleep on your feet. But the litany in your mind isn’t going to shut down, if that’s what you are trying to achieve. It is a better idea to be still, sit silent, think about what you are thinking.

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” — Susan Ertz

Sometimes, I wonder if life is preparing me for solitude/loneliness in the future. I am certainly getting good practice these days.

This situation can go forward in multiple ways. Like countless others (women and men) who face up to their alone situation, accept it completely, stop searching for things and people and activities to fill their “isolation.” Or spend the time and energies searching. Or remain somewhere in between.

Some days, I feel dejected, as I think about empty promises of friendship, none delivered. I feel angry at my bravado, thinking that I could be independent and free, on my own. I feel pride/resignation, as I contemplate my own mind that has consistently refused to buy into popular rhythms and patterns.

And then I think, you just chose all of it, baby.