How meditation helps me focus

This article has been contributed by Jubin Mehta ([email protected]) while he was at WorkationX as a part of a retreat organized by Saadho. The article talks about how meditation can help one increase productivity. And while building WorkationX, this was an angle of thought for having the venue in such a serene place…

The dictionary meaning of ‘meditation’ is continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation orthe act of giving your attention to only one thing. Closing eyes and sitting in a particular posture has come to gain religious association but the practice as it stands has just one purpose- turning the eye inwards and contemplating. This does not mean active thinking on something and trying to come to a resolution but just the journey of quieting the mind and arriving at some place of silence.

This some place of silence is a state of the mind or being where things appear clear and the faculties seem to be aligned. Earlier on, when I sat in meditation, the act was an effort. There was no belief in the benefits people proclaimed because it was not in my experience. Sitting without doing anything for even 5 minutes was a daunting task. Coming to think of it, the modern life has so many external stimuli that the mind is constantly churning. TV, Social media, news, constant talk, the mobile phone and an environment of competition can keep the mind continuously occupied without leaving anytime for it to rest. This is where meditation became useful for me.

The idea is simple. I sit in a quiet space on a mat or anything comfortable and close my eyes. The posture is not very important (it is helpful to have the spine straight), choose any comfortable sitting posture. And even the eyes can be open but early on, closing the eyes can be beneficial to cut off external stimuli. Now that the eyes are closed, I give the mind something to focus on, a singular thing and the best thing which is always with us is the breath. Observe it coming in and going out. It does not matter is the breath is long or short, just observe it. Coming in and going out.

The mind has a tendency of thinking, continuously. Thoughts will come, they will go. We don’t have to resist thoughts. I just observe that a thought arose and as soon as that awareness comes, revert to the breath. There is no effort to stop thinking, the effort is only to be aware of the breath. As soon as the awareness descends that a thought has arose, come back to the breath. Smilingly.

I had kickstarted the process by attending a 3 day silence retreat at Thosamling Nunnery in Dharamshala and then a 10 day Vipassana course but if this seems pretty daunting, just 20 minutes of sitting in silence in the morning and 10 minutes before sleeping has been helpful for me. How has it been useful? Why is it important to quieten the mind?

According to me, the ultimate purpose is probably to see if we can be in the silence and harmony with nature perpetually but that is a far off state. For starters, this 30 minutes of self-reflection in a day helps me to set the tone for the day. If I’m working on the computer, it helps me focus on the one thing I’m doing without opening many tabs at the same time and deviating. This improves the productivity to some extent. If I’m in a busy market in the city, the 30 minute practice helps me in not getting agitated. If some kind of frustration arises, one is able to see it as a thought (as an observer) and not get entangled in it. This reduces suffering.

Painting, knitting, washing utensils, running, all these activities can also be turned into a meditation practice if we attach this sense of awareness with it. We’re doing one thing and as soon as the mind deviates somewhere, we bring it back to the task at hand. In my experience, the sitting in silence is a good way to begin and then it can be extended to other tasks as well. And whatever we choose, if we give it atleast 21 days (as they say, 3 weeks is the stipulated time to form a habit), the result can be more apparent.

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