Life is so similar, yet so dissimilar to a rat race as people are constantly zipping through personalized expressways and still trying to get past the person on the next road. Entries and exits are at different locations on each express lane and the roads never intersect. There is stiff competition to get “ahead” without realizing that there is always someone ahead because different people start and end journeys at different times. There are a few who although refrain from racing, spend valuable time brooding and regretting over the past. In all the hullabaloo, the present is completely forgotten. Past is history, future is mystery but the present can at least be filled with joy, content, and happiness with hope and preparation for a better tomorrow.
Awareness is a very widely used yet most misunderstood term. Being aware, agile, and nimble-footed is a must to remain competent and relevant in today’s highly competitive global landscape that is now also marred with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA). The term is still very broad and can have different meanings for different people, and different meanings for the same people at different times. In a new highly volatile world order that is witnessing a surge of gig jobs and shortening full-time employment tenures, being aware of opportunities, market dynamics, sunrise and sunset industries, business movements, political developments, is necessary to remain competitive. This can be termed as External Self-Awareness whereas Internal Self-Awareness taps into one’s strengths, interests, passion, that is necessary to excel and be among the best.
Delivering Top Notch Performance
Top performers can silence the voices in their heads, focus on the moment and give their best. It is not easy and may take significant practice to be both physically and mentally present together. Peak performance requires undivided attention and supreme confidence in one’s ability despite a history of record failures. Like in sports, life too doesn’t care about past failures as long as one believes he can do better in the future. Having said this, it is imperative to note that, goals have to be practical and Specific-Measurable-Achievable-Relevant-Timebound (SMART). What is practical depends on the individual’s condition and /or situation.
Focusing on the moment is challenging for those who have never tried. But all is not lost yet. One can start with daily chores and subsequently move on to focus on more complex activities. Activities such as swimming, jogging, etc are commonly used to find inner peace and also for anger management, relaxation, etc. Focusing is also easier as the activity is more experiential by nature and runs almost on auto-pilot thus freeing up the mind to look around and enjoy nature. If there is no deliberate attention given to even the minutest of chores, everything becomes just an item on the task list.
Meditation: How to Focus on the Moment
The objective of “being present in the moment” is to attain peace of mind, relaxation of the body, control over emotions, and rapid mood swings. All the inner voices are silenced with practice over time. However, it is not possible to keep the mind empty and is designed to think round the clock. A practical option is to keep the mind busy with some unexciting work. Taming the mind is a tough task and ergo, it is advisable to go slow and improvise in a gradual manner.
- Brooding too much over the past does not help. Thinking in small doses and for a good reason without getting upset can be refreshing. Identifying errors in decisions made and steps in what went well can help plan a better tomorrow.
- Planning for the future is not bad. But worrying and getting too anxious can lead to health disorders
- Focusing on the present allows the mind to notice the chirping of birds and honking of cars in distant traffic. It isn’t necessary to get into details of the sounds but realizing that these sounds exist is a sign that the internal clutter of the mind is on the decline.
- Busy schedules make people forget the finer feelings of the body such as the clothes brushing against the skin, the tightening of the muscles, or the butterflies in the stomach.
- Brooding over experiences and digging deep into them doesn’t help. Be it bitter experiences or happy feelings, let the thoughts keep flowing without getting stuck or obsessed anywhere.
- Breathing is one of the prime activities that undergo a rapid observable change as the mind and heart become more relaxed. The breathing becomes deeper and regular, supplying much-needed oxygen, in sufficient quantity, to the body.
Yoga-An Effective Mind-Body Management Tool
The art of breathing is the first and foremost activity that should be conquered to bring conscious and subconscious under control besides improving overall blood circulation. As Yoga controls breathing, it also helps, by default, to stay focused on the moment. The postures and poses in Yoga enhance self-awareness and de-clutters the mind. The transition from one posture to another is the right method to stay focused on the present.
Getting caught in an infinite loop of thinking is self-destructive. One should first aspire to break out of this vicious circle by controlling what is allowed or disallowed in one’s mind. If the mind is trained to retain or discard thoughts, then conscious interference to focus on the present will no longer be required.
Time Frame to See Results
Meditation is neither a results-obsessed nor a time-bound activity. The benefits have to be felt and the time needed varies from person to person. Getting over-obsessed with results can result in anxiety that defeats the entire purpose of meditation. Reduction of stress, better control over emotions, increased tolerance levels are some of the key benefits that are observed even after meditation sessions are stopped.
Meditation helps understand oneself in greater detail thus leading to better health and quality of life. Frustration levels come down as the difference between expectation and reality reduces over time. This is instrumental in bringing back focus to the present. Sustaining a strict meditation schedule is necessary if one aspires to see quality output.