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“Mindfulness meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is.”
- Jon Kabat Zinn
Not just mindfulness meditation, but any meditation or for that matter, any kind of self-improvement mechanism starts with the process of ‘self-discovery’. If you want to go from here to there, you first need to figure out where is this ‘here’ and then only you’ll be able to find a way to get ‘there’, right?
Now you must be thinking, “I know where I am and what I’m doing in life, I just want to make things a little better via mindfulness.” The truth is unless you have a moment to moment awareness regarding the nature of your thoughts and emotions, you don’t really know who you are, where you are and what you are doing. Either, you tend to get stuck in your past or you keep thinking about the future, never ever being fully present in the present moment. And a whole lot of people are not even aware that they are in this kind of a dream state. The Buddhists call this state - ignorance.
In order to move from ignorance to mindfulness, the most basic exercise one can do is to ask questions. Ask yourself questions and then spend time with these questions, digging deeper and deeper, discarding all kinds of shallow answers that will come up in the form of vague reactions, biased justifications, and the ‘good old’ excuses which have been faithfully standing by your side whenever you needed them. Understand that these answers only provide a false sense of comfort for a little while. So, if you want a genuine transformation, don’t settle for these answers.
It works in the same way as ‘going to a therapist’ works. How does therapy works? You go to a therapist because he/she is an expert in asking the right questions, isn’t it? By asking the right questions, the right kind of transformations occur. For instance, if you want to make a sandwich, you’ll ask yourself questions like - What kind of sandwich I want? What kind of ingredients I want in my sandwich and where to find them? Okay, now I have all the ingredients but how to put them together? One by one, you find answers to all these questions, and soon enough you’ll have a mouth-watering sandwich in your hands to quench your hunger pangs! The core concept behind this can be described with the help of these beautiful quotes -
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.”
- Marcus Aurelius
“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
Depending on how much awareness you have, your mind can serve you as a wonderful servant or it can turn itself into a truly terrible master who’ll put you through a miserable time all through your life. By cultivating mindfulness we learn how to remain on the ‘managing side’ of the things while avoiding the ‘slavery’. When you focus on something, set out to achieve something, your mind can accomplish each one of those tasks which felt like impossible feats at first - completing a marathon, building a new career from scratch, finding true love, losing those extra 30 pounds, you name it! And on the other hand, if you lose grip on it (by not acknowledging the power of your thoughts), even things you always knew would work for you could start falling apart.
So, when your goal is to improve your life, it’s really important to harness the power of your mind. By practicing mindfulness (via these questions) you can bring a certain level of mental clarity that will guide you on every step of your life.
Here, we’ve enlisted 52 questions, divided into 10 categories - Am I Awake, Facing Your Truths, Letting Go, Being Human, Priorities, Career and Finances, Health, Happiness, Relationships, and the Bigger Picture.
You need to explore one question every week. Pick questions as per the given order or you can pick a random question every week. Go with your intuition and not with your logic because with the help of this exercise what you are doing is - you are trying to break free from what you consider ‘logical’ in your mind. You are trying to change your perspective and that’ll allow you to ultimately change your reality.
With every question spend some time - at least 30-120 minutes a day. You can even write down the ‘question of the week’ on a piece of paper to really understand the depth and profoundness of what’s being asked. Look for the answers not just in your mind, but in your heart, soul and your very life energies. Please understand - the process will only work when you’ll answers these questions as truthfully as you can. It's not the answers that’ll transform you, but the process of ‘inquiry’ itself.