Time is of the Essence

Over the years, I perfected the art of listening and recently, I have watched it decline. Watching all my efforts go down the drain was extremely painful and this can be applied to my ability to focus and concentrate too. Although, we look to grow and evolve but this does come at a cost and this is what I like to discuss with you today.

Conversations

If you had put me in a room and my only thing was to listen, I used to interrupt someone until they had finished what they had to day. In recent years, I have seen this slowly diminish and now I interrupt when it is convenient for me.

Whenever I would be conversing, you would always find me mindfully listening and I found great joy in it. Listening is an easy way to feel the sense of the observer within you. So it was always a way to continue my meditation throughout the day and it provided fulfillment in my life.

I noticed that whenever I would interrupt or share my views straight away without thinking, I would leave a place feeling more tired and exhausted. Also, I would feel that the person I was talking to will probably feel that this wasn’t a worthwhile conversation.

I am always open to answering a question. So if asked anything, I would take the time to respond. However, in recent times, it was like I must share something otherwise, I would be irrelevant or people will go further into misinformation and maintain misguided views. Letting people be as they are has been a challenge.

A true conversation lies in the listening. It is empowered with the attention of listening. It is the silent observer that catches the nuances of what somebody says. If I am thinking about what to say in the next second, how can I be truly listening? So the art of a real conversation is when we take turns to converse our views and opinions. We take in what each person is saying and truly analyze it, not just from our perspective but mainly for the perspective of the speaker.

Books, Talks or Podcasts – the duration or pages matter

I listen to spiritual talks or podcasts regularly and I am an avid reader. Before, if you put a one hour or three hour talk for me, I could sit and listen and give my attention to it. Yes, my mind would drift now and then but I was able to concentrate for the most part. If you gave me a 1000 page book, I would be able to consume that. I love the longer talks and larger books because they give the necessary background that enhances the topic or concept discussed. The context that is added because time isn’t an issue allows the ideas/concepts to be clear and elucidated.

However, with the advent of social media, our concentration spans seem to be lessening day by day. We watch 10-30 second videos and call ourselves educated and informed. Before, it took us a decent 250-500 page book to be informed or a series of 2 hour talks but today, we don’t consider that necessary. When I listen to a 5 minute talk, I do not feel fulfilled at all or feel I have gained anything special. As easy as it was for my mind to concentrate on those 5 minutes, it was just as easy to let go of whatever I have learned in those 5 minutes. Without full context, we probably will not allow anything to become experiential.

I have recently felt that we must be very clear with our language, we should minimize our words only to maximize the understanding. But it doesn’t matter how long we talk for, or how much we write, it is about the clarity of the message. For anything to be clear, we need to explain it fully. For anyone to understand our views, we need to literally spell out how we got there.

Research – What is that again?

Today, our research is ‘Google it’ instead of let’s read or learn about it from experts in that field. For me, research is about getting a few or more books to understand any topic completely.

Nowadays, we read a few articles and suddenly, we find people on social media pretending to be experts on the matter. You will probably find a few social media influencers who will talk about mental health but have minimal understanding about what it is or have not gone through any mental health issues. Those people that have studied it, got degrees and are well-versed on the whole topic, they are not even consulted when these influencers share their ‘tidbits of wisdom’. This can be applied to any subject today. It is just a matter of reading a few articles and now we are completely enlightened on that subject. Who has time today to read a few books? Unfortunately, we think that these articles alone are enough to feel informed but this is not enhancing humanity at all, in fact, it is to the detriment to the community around us. I noticed this within myself and that is when I realized something is not right. We should be informed through a variety of mediums, like books, articles, research studies, and talk. Information overload is better than information minimization. Ignorance is certainly not bliss.

What to do next?

I have now started to read more books and listen to longer talks. I am constantly looking at how to increase my concentration, not just the longevity but also the intensity too. This requires work and effort. When someone is speaking, I need to learn to keep quiet and listen without interruption from my side. When I am reading a book, I must read a few pages without looking at my phone to increase my concentration and focus. Listening to a long talk on any subject, and reflecting on what is being said completely. Listen to panel discussions and the variety of opinions and thoughts.

A lot must be done to reclaim our focus and concentration, to become informed of a subject and most of all to have real conversations. Frankly, I must take the time to efficiently know something. In fact, efficiency is not about lessening the time to know something, efficiency is about increasing the quality of information and discussing valuable insights with others when necessary.

Guest Blog by Niharika Ahuja

Hello everyone!

Today, I am very happy to say that Niharika Ahuja, a very dear friend and a fellow traveller in spirituality has written a blog for me and the readers of this blog. I have known Niharika for years and her wisdom and spiritual understanding is truly remarkable as you will discover when you read the post she has written. She has reached some amazing spiritual heights despite her young age and has been a continuous inspiration

. I have learned a lot from Niharika and I am sure with this blog, you will also learn from her. Niharika also has a blog and catch up on her insightful posts on https://livinginyourlight.wordpress.com


Awareness:

Research indicates as per majority’s beliefs, the average person has 70,000 thoughts
in one day. How crazy is that? That is 70,000 times a day that the average person is
not living within the moment because she or he is thinking about something that
happened in the past or dreaming about something they desire in the future. This
explains why the topic of mindfulness has gained so much interest in society.

Most people will argue why it even matters if they are engrossed in their thoughts?
It matters because the more we let our minds wander to the thoughts of the past or
future, we are taking THAT very moment away from us and our loved ones too. A
second or even an hour after, we will also regret losing those moments we spent
pondering on what could have been or could be, rather than enjoying the
opportunities, people and beauty that surrounded us in that very moment.

Call it awareness, being cautious or more mindful, when every act is done with your
attention in whatever you are doing, you live life in the most enriching and beautiful
way. One may think that doing the dishes, walking your dog, drinking your tea or
even eating may be ordinary things or obligations that do not require our undivided
attention. However, I believe if we do even these smallest acts with our whole heart
and mind, we will start to fully experience the beauty of life and cherish all that it
has to offer.

Research indicates that when we become mindful in whatever we are doing, hearing,
seeing, speaking, eating etc., any depression and anxiety that one may have may also start to diminish and heal. The more I practice mindfulness in my own life, I realize how
many hours on end I wasted being absent from my present moments and a slave to
things I have no control over now. Some moments that are lost can never be
recovered again and soon enough, that will be another grief we will mourn or
ponder over in another present moment, in the future.

An example that I have personally witnessed is where a loved one may be sitting in
front of us trying to engage in a conversation. That person could be going through a
mental illness and may be yearning for a person to talk to for support or any last
sign of hope or love to hold onto. When we don’t give that person our attention and
are too focused on what happened in our own past or how many likes we got on our
picture posted on instagram, we could be giving them (and even ourselves) another
reason to go home and feel worse about their situation and feel more alone than
ever. Every moment and time of ours and others is precious and the less we remain
aware of that, we may be exposed to an entire lifetime of never really living our life
and becoming inspired by things that other people have to offer.

The truth is, we never really know when our last moment will be. It is in our hands
what we choose to spend our last moments doing- living in something in the past, or
could we say that we were fully enjoying and celebrating the greatest present- the
present moment…because it is another opportunity for us to start anew and
experience and create more beautiful memories to hold on to.

The simple habit of putting away our phones when we are meeting with someone,
looking at the smile on your dog’s face when you walk him/her and the sound of the
a loved one’s laugh or nature, mindfulness then becomes not a forced practice or
ritual, but a way of life and an excelled art of beautiful being and living.

people festival sitting freedom
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Wants and Needs

We live in a world of wants pretending that they are needs. We always feel that our wants are extremely important and if not received in the near future, we will be at a disadvantage. Instead if we understand that whenever we want something, we should take a break. Have a look at what is needed as a necessity right now. Maybe not getting something and instead spending time with your loved ones has more value.

As we always find, that if you are confused in knowing the difference between wants and needs then there is one way to find out. Get what you ‘want’ and see if you get over it in a couple of weeks. I predict that you will be over it in a couple of days but let’s just say we are all pretty decent people and that it would take us a couple of weeks to move on to the next ‘want’. It is really simple.

Okay, it is understood that we got what we wanted and it didn’t give us a feeling of sustenance so now we will be able to be careful when we choose to act on getting that ‘want’ and trust me, if we don’t make mistakes, we will keep falling into the rabbit hole. Awareness is key!