Mindfulness Training Week 1 – My Journey so far and My Goals

So, it has been a week since I have started on this 1-year journey of mindfulness. Typically, when I am starting any new habit, I observe myself in one of the 2 states:

  1. Strong Preparation:  This means that I spend a lot of time and energy in preparing myself for the change, thinking things through and preparing a plan – allocating a time and a place to do the habit and thinking about various challenges that could come up in making the change.  Informing people around me if the habit touches them in some way and asking for their help. And religiously guarding the allocated time-slot so that I get a lot of positive vibes at the beginning itself.
  2. Jumping in with little or no preparation: In this case, the habit is there in my mind and I do my best to implement it. But the energy tapers off after the first few days. And when things get busy and the events of the day make me reactive, I would even forget that I am on a new habit journey until I go back to the Habit tracker the next day.

So, take a guess – which state was I in last week? In state 2: I wanted to reread the book fully to mentally prepare for the year-long journey and to think through how I would do the 100 PQ reps in a day. However, I could not find the time to go through the book beyond the first few pages. First 2 days were great – However, reality caught with me on the 3rd day and I missed reaching the count of 100 reps. So, for the records, I have only done 100 PQ reps on 4 out of 7 days. My initial expectation was to do 7/7 – now, that is the target for the second week 🙂

Now let us get into the details – what areas am I trying to be more mindful and what are my goals?

Before getting into the various areas, I want you to know the 3 journeys that I have made (or still making) in the last 5-7 years that has fundamentally resulted in a lot of changes in me – physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually (those are 4 distinct areas of our life). This would help you understand my goals better and relate to my progress updates.

  • Journey of sustainable weight-loss without dieting: there was a time (between 2002-2010) I was weighing around 80-85 kg and now in 2017, I weigh less than 60 kg and I am hovering around the 60 kg range for more than 5 years now.  As I look back, it all started with a lecture I listened to in 2010 on the topic of Fasting & Piety and that gave me the key insight that got me started on this journey of weight loss without dieting, without fussing over the calories and the type of food and without going through a lot of difficulties/procedures. This is a big topic and I have been intending to write about this for more than 3 years now as everyone who sees me after a few years asks me about my weight-loss 🙂 – If I find time, I would write more about this topic.
  • Journey from engineering to the world of medicine: In my school days, my teachers wanted me to become a doctor and I hated biology and loved math. So, except for the forced biology classes I have studied, I have never even gone near medicine. Of course, when I had to visit hospitals and take the medicine, I used to take them (while hating the bitterness), but I was never interested in understanding anything about it. All of this changed in the year 2012 when one of my close family members got cancer and that gave me the motivation to understand why cancer develops and how to combat it. This study has taken me through a lot of different alternative medicines – Acupuncture, Ayurvedha, Islamic Medicines, Siddha, etc. and I have even gotten a practising certificate in Acupuncture. This has opened up a whole new word of insights about my body and mind and has resulted in a lot of changes in me. There is so much that is in my head that I want to share that could be of benefit to people – I ask for assistance from God to give me the time and the ability to share beneficial knowledge with others.
  • Journey of Entrepreneurship: My last job was in 2010 and for the past 7 years, I have been on my own. The first few years were made easy for me as I was freelancing and stable and long-term work came my way. Then, in 2013, I started my company in Geneva – As I look back at these 4 years, I can label my venture as a success or a failure as I have a lot of things to say on both fronts :). But I am very very grateful for this journey – Of the 3 journeys, this was the most difficult one emotionally but it was also the most beneficial. I have realized a lot of things about myself and also learnt a lot more about the world 🙂 –  I went to a top business school (ISB in India) and I had the opportunity to test a lot of what I learned in the field – I have discovered a number of unconventional insights, some of which forced me to unlearn what I learned in MBA and in my corporate life. The journey is still ongoing and I am still experimenting with joy in my heart as I am finally doing the things that my heart has been saying for so many years. Surprisingly, Mindfulness plays a role in the startup idea that I am shaping, but more about it another time.

To me all the 3 journeys are related in a way – they are all about understanding myself better and applying the knowledge I have gained to improve myself and to serve the people around me better. They are about listening to the Sage voice inside and calmly proceeding to act on the suggestions despite whatever is going on in the outside world. They are all about the power of beneficial knowledge and consistent action, even if the world seems to be going in another direction.

There is a greater journey that is the underlying foundation of all these journeys – my journey into faith from a state of confusion and lack of faith; my 10-year long journey to answer the question that bogged me down the most: What is the purpose of my life? I did find the answer and the light illuminated all the areas of my life and that was the foundation for the above 3 journeys I am undertaking.

Now that you have a context, let us get back to areas where I am trying to practice mindfulness:

  1. Eating: I have come a long way in this area. The biggest factor in helping me with the weight loss and sustaining it over a long period was awareness. But I still see myself unmindful on a number of occasions. Eating is the most pleasurable experience if one is fully mindful, but most of us are unmindful. Our mind is into conversations or thinking about something else other than what is in our mouth and hands. This week, I did not improve much in this area, though I was consciously practising mindfulness whenever I could. This is the hardest area for me especially when I am eating with children – there is a lot going on and I become unmindful of the food easily  – I want to slowly improve in this area to the point where my attention does not get away from the food despite whatever is going on outside.
  2. Parenting: Food pleases our tongues. But mindful time with children, especially babies, pleases our hearts. I had some fantastic mindful moments with my 1-year old baby. When I am with young children, I am generally mindful as I recognize the wonder of creation in them and how mindful they are. With the increased focus this week, I got a lot of PQ reps by doing the activity I love – spending time with them and observing them intensely.  But the area I want to improve is my anger – Though mostly I am calm and happy, I can be provoked by the smallest things and I react – Most of the times, I am not mindful of the words I speak in anger and I regret it later. So, this is an area for me to improve in this year by doing PQ reps.
  3. Mindfulness in the Bathroom: The book suggests to use bathroom as a reminder to do PQ reps and what a wonderful suggestion that is! Except that I have forgotten this cue a number of times this week 🙂 – Bathroom is the place where my mind chatter is the highest. I am not with myself, my mind wandering into the past or the future and never at the present. Yesterday, I had a wonderful bath in which I got all 100 PQ reps in just 1 bath of 30 minutes. Wow! I did not realize that it was so easy to get 100 PQ reps. And it made a tremendous difference to my day yesterday as there were a number of events which could have upset me and made me react, but they did not.
  4. Mindfulness in the busyness of the day when I am at work: If I am alone in my desk doing planned tasks without getting interrupted, I am mindful. If I start the day without opening my email and by working on my most important task, the day is a lot better. But if I start my day by attending phone-calls or checking emails, the day becomes reactive for me. Also if I am in meetings or working at a customer site with lot of meetings and interruptions, I feel that my mindful drops. I am not always fully present and I lose my calmness. Sometimes, I catch myself reading emails/blogs or doing low-priority only to be filled with guilt in the latter part of the day.
  5. Mindfulness in Prayer: This is the area where I feel that I am the weakest. Generally, when I work, study or do anything that involves my mind, I am very focused and I rarely have unnecessary chatter in my mind. But somehow, in prayer, it is the opposite – I notice that my mind is wandering everywhere and sometimes, I don’t get anything out of the prayer. I also noticed patterns in my mindfulness – in the early mornings, it is much easier to be mindful and I get a lot out of the prayer. But as the day progresses and various items occupy my mind, the calmness goes away and chatter fills up my mind. So, if I want to improve my mindfulness in this area, I need to improve my mindfulness in how I am tackling the various events of the day. Though I write this as the last area, this is the reason why I decided to undertake the 1-year journey of mindfulness training.

It is a long post and it has taken me a lot of time to write (and a lot of time to read for you, I guess) – I am losing my mindfulness, I guess 🙂 –  Time for a PQ rep as Judge has told me that it takes too much to write these posts.

In summary, I have not done well this week and my action item is to allocate time to read the book and to prepare a plan for practising the 100 PQ reps in a much more systematic way than what I have done in the first week.

If you have gotten started on the journey, please share your first week experience with me. If you have any questions related to getting started, please let me know!

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