Nothing’s New

Yesterday, I had a really bad day – everything felt stuck. Whatever I did seemed both mechanical and self-conscious. The critical voice was extra active. To the conditioned mind, nothing is really ever new, as every perception is filtered through the memory centre which in turn triggers thoughts – old chewed up patterns. Whatever we are presented with is judged and reacted to from past recordings. When one becomes aware of it, this is quite disturbing. It is like a form of generalized tinnitus. 

Yesterday, everything felt like Groundhog Day. There was no freshness, no desire to do anything as it seemed like drudgery. Nothing new really! There were memories of being like this before, yet it was mixed with thousands of memories of me feeling well and vibrant.  I did not know how to get back to my usual self. By the end of the day, my son suggested we put some order in the house together – it needed to be done – but he also knows how physical disorder really affect me when I am irritated. I went along with it trying not to contaminate other people’s moods and went to bed rather deflated.

Today in contrast almost everything seems beautiful and calm. There is more order in the house, but more importantly there seems to be more silence in the head. In reality, everything is in constant flux, changing and different, and yes the mind is active but it does not need to take over. So long as we use our mechanical auto-pilot mind nothing is going to be perceived as new.

So how does one approach the ever-changing reality with fresh eyes, ears and aware senses? God knows? How about my nose!

This is something that I have been more in touch with since practising meditation. It is possible to be aware of the air gently passing through the nostrils while meeting the complex world of inner and outer stimulus with a beginners mind.

This series of posts are part of Incrementally – a 366 day writing challenge.

PS- When proof reading this post, I was reminded of a similar post I wrote few years ago. The title says it all:
The Same Yet Not the Same

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The Habit of Thought

habit-of-thoughtMost people believe that there are good and bad habits. In the last few years, I have been focusing on getting rid of bad habits and establishing ‘healthy’ ones. I have also been interested in awareness, mindfulness, and presence. Habits tend to make us mechanical, and one wonders if there is such a thing as a good habit?

At times, I wish that I had a distinct habit such as smoking or biting my nails – clearly noticeable by others and obvious – so that I could work at understanding the mechanism and attempt dropping it. Unfortunately, it would seem that I am not addicted to any substances such as coffee, tea, alcohol or even sugar. I am not claiming to be free of habits, but I would like to identify a conspicuous habit that I could focus on and tackle.

Some years back, my eldest son observed that I always seemed to start talking as soon as there was a silence. I have to admit that I am very talkative – even verging on being a compulsive talker and I wonder if that would be the right candidate?

Interestingly, I am about to embark on an experiment that is the perfect opportunity to tackle it head-on. I am on my way to Nashik in Western India where I will go on a 10-Day Vipassana Meditation retreat. It is the first time that I will be quiet for longer than a few hours! It will undoubtedly challenge my talking habit.

The real intention of the retreat, though is to go into a more deep-seated habit still: the habit of thought. Could it be the habit that ends them all?

Breather*
Photo credit: Vincentiu Solomon

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XY-Zen

XY-Zen

This is day two of a writing challenge triggered by the work of Chelsea & Scott Dinsmore. The aim of this blog is to inspire change and to document a necessary transition, both individual and collective, towards a better, healthier world. The scope is holistic in nature, yet it comprises four specific fields of action, namely: Earth, Health, Wealth, and Self-knowledge.

Today, I am going to focus on wellbeing or more specifically on exercise and mindfulness. It is hard to help others and to be the change we want to see in the world if we are not well within ourselves. The topic of health is vast and usually tends to become more in important in people’s life when one is unfit or unwell, but it is well established that prevention is better than cure. Regardless of the state of our current health, it is vital that we spend a little time and attention to improving it. One of the most effective ways to do that is to establish a mindful habit of daily exercise and calm. And this where the XY-Zen project comes in.

Seeing the importance of encouraging more people to improve their health, a friend and I are devising a simple programme that can easily be adopted by almost anyone regardless of how busy their life might be. We have called it XY-Zen. I will not go into much detail here as it is still early days, but here is our intention with the project:

“Our mission is to help busy people adopt the healthy and minful habit of exercising and relaxing regularly,  through a carefully designed online programme and app. Each exercise is introduced slowly and gradually so it is effortless for our users to look after their mind and body from the comfort of their home. Using social accountability, our programmes are simple, fun and customisable to provide measurable results and greater well-being.”

I have been practicing a simple flow of exercise and breathing for the past sixteen years and more recently took up simple sitting meditation. It has been good for me and I really feel that more people could benefit from adopting a healthy routine for both the body and the mind. It is clear that there are many existing programmes already available out there but much too often they are time-consuming, or difficult to practice and  keep up. One of the unexpected consequences of starting this project has been a renewed interest in yoga, pranayama, and mindfulness. I have been spending the last four and a half months exploring different types of exercises and relaxation methods and feel super healthy! It has also become clearer that it was not going to be easy but I feel that it is still worthwhile pursuit.

If you are interested or would like to give us some feedback, feel free to either send us an email (xyzenstaff{at}gmail.com) or visit us on our XY-Zen Community Page

Do you have a daily exercise/relaxation sequence that you practice? If not, what is stopping you? We would love to hear your comments.

Breather*

Photo Credit: Patrick Hendry

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