Sunday, August 01, 2004

Living Mindfully

I am a great fan of all those books which tell us to slow down, live mindfully, how to live life the zen way etc. How many times have I chanced upon such a book convinced that within its pages was the answer to all the problems in my life. "Open your eyes to the wonder all around you", "101 ways to eat a mangoes" (not in the culinary sense), "illuminate your corner of the world", :highway to heaven" to name a few!

But I have been too busy to actually apply any of it to my life. And infact am not very sure it is applicable. Things always turn out nice and neat in books don't they?! Not in my life. For example, I read somewhere that while cooking, I should pay deep attention to what I was doing; I should notice the shape, the texture, the colour of the food, draw pleasure from their variety, their aroma. I tried to, while cooking bhindi (okra). I was convinced that it would be delicious. It turned out as usual...with A complaining at the blandness of it. Yet another book instructed me to rub grains of rice in my palm and feel their texture and think about the goodness of it while washing it before cooking. All it did was to increase the time I spent in cooking it. Can't say it tasted any different! And yet another book told me to repeat a word of thanks while cooking! I did (felt a bit silly to mutter over my pots and pans). But perhaps in my case the thanks was not so much for the food we received as much for my cooking skills! Then there have been other instructions on how to get up in the morning (slowly, and not jumping out at the last minute and three page full of other stuff to do), how to sweep and clean, how to take a walk.....The message I guess was 'There is magic in everything, slow down to see it, experience it". I somehow got too much caught up in the 'how to' of it to see the end result.

And now out here, without even intending to, I have slowed down. The lack of options, the daily domestic routine, reduced mobility are responsible. I find myself doing all sorts of 'zen' things. My life revolves around the comings and goings of the water supply, the maid, meal times and of course the power. I am not free to move around as I would do if I were in France or in dear old Kolkata.

So I have taken to plucking yellowed leaves, watching the wax and wane of the flora, the antics of the fauna, the children flying kites, the women walkers.

The pink blossoms curl into tight buds every evening and unfurl in the morning. The orange blossoms were coming along very nicely when all of a sudden, a hoard of black beetle or is it a variety of wasps, with red wings striped in black, desecnded on them and literally are sucking the life out of them. And when these wasps fly, their wings whirr around making them look like tiny helicopters.

There is a crow with a very long upper beak which curls down under the lower beak. The monkey chief is lame. There are thick brown slugs inching across the narrow path in the park looking curiously like brown leaves, so slow is their movement and more often than not, end up in a pulp.

So am I not taking life each moment by moment? I am living life mindfully and slowing down to really notice my surroundings, compared to my earlier lifestyle when I didnt have time to breathe. But instead of overflowing with bliss and contentment, all this slowing down is making me feel sorry for myself! Living unmindfully was better. It was so much fun being out of breath!!

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