It’s almost the end of the year 2015, which as clichéd as it sounds feels like started just few days ago. And here I am doing my year review – as a matter of fact my first ever. I don’t want to dwell too much into particular incidents or follow a monthly chronological order but instead will try and identify six key lessons that served me particularly well this year.
- It’s not the start or the end but the journey that matters
We’d all love to have a positive and a solid start and that would be the ideal scenario but this is not always possible. At the end of 2014, I had no idea I would have one of the most horrible start to 2015. But to be fair to 2015 it was not all its doing – I pretty much carried the baggage of 2014 into 2015. And the mayhem with which 2015 started was just compounded by the extra baggage I’d carried from 2014. As the early days of 2015 rolled on, before I’d known it months had passed. I was a miserable wreck on so many levels. That feeling of stagnancy in life was at its peak and I felt I was a victim of life.
Then I snapped – in hindsight I can say for the better. I think I reached the saturation point of stagnancy – what happened next was I said “I don’t want this for me.” The moment I said this wind sort of changed its course-maybe. But now towards end of this year with few days remaining that day late in June when I told myself I was done with stagnancy – it all changed for me. And i think it is fair to say that I am looking forward to carrying this momentum on to 2016 and start on the front foot. Will I be carrying any extra baggage with me? NOPE
- From Mind-full to Mindful
This was without a shadow of doubt the best decision I made and it continues to be one. With the start of 2015 the head was filled with loads of stuffs and constant overthinking made it worse. The worse got even more unbearable when I was constantly worrying about the things I could not influence. It was around this time I was feeling horribly down in life. Towards the end of June, one evening as I sat there probably with hands on my head – surfing the net, my mind full of unproductive ramblings, I just felt that I did not want this anymore. And then the very next moment my hands fell on this book “Mindfulness: How to find peace in this frantic world.” I did not know whether this book would work for me. But I did seek for that ever eluding “peace” and if this book was going to show me the way, I was more than willing to follow. What happened then on was surreal and i was on a journey from being mind full to being mindful. And as the days turned to weeks, it was an easy call for me to make – the latter was way better than the former.
Soon, after I found Headspace app which really was a great way to practice mindfulness (meditation). And I am almost seven months into the practice and I love every bit of it. For everyone who thinks about mindfulness is about spiritual or religious practice- it’s not. It’s a practice where you basically more aware. And in order to be mindful one need not sit crossed legged or in some weird postures and with incense stick burning – those are just a myth. You can do it sitting on a chair or even lying down- it’s all about being in the present. Also, you need not spend hours on it, being mindful for ten minutes a day is enough.
- Reading is to mind what exercise is to body
Another one of my best decision this year – to start reading more. I have never been a voracious reader and I don’t consider myself one. But ever since I started reading a lot more than I previously had – everything seemed better. Not that I had solved all my problems, I hadn’t – all of them were right there but I just had better things to do now than to sit or lie down and overthink about things that were well out of my control. I would have my mindfulness sessions and the reading sessions would be long and endless every day. I did not have any particular genre of books as such and I read pretty much everything- Fiction, non-fiction, self-help, autobiography and even religious Scriptures. I was reading blogs, journals – I was reading and was in the thick of the excitement of reading. Also, by the time I started reading I already had about a months’ practice of the mindfulness sessions and these sessions really contributed for me to be able to read and make a habit out of it. I say this with immense joy that I have actually been able to read much more in the course of five months than I have done in the previous five years (I am excluding academic books). Reading also enabled my mind to ease off and I did not have much time to think about stuffs that really did not add much value to my life but instead just made me feel miserable. And with the reading habit came the writing habit and soon I was writing more. I intend to start a podcast or a V-blog to share my sentiments very soon- which again I think will be a product of me reading more.
- Smoking is injurious to health
When I first started smoking almost a decade ago I was well aware that smoking was injurious and it kills. But I wouldn’t often argue just for the heck of it – “what doesn’t?” I’d say. But a week after my encounter with the mindfulness book I was ready to give up smoking for the umpteenth time. But this time I was equipped with a little bit more grit, determination and above all experience. The fact that I had failed on so many attempts previously to give up smoking was actually encouraging. Many a times failure drags us down and we tend to believe that I am not going to succeed because I’ve failed so many times. But this time was different I actually saw my failure as my experience and felt I was better equipped to deal with effects of quitting smoking. Here again my mindful practice came to my aid. When I felt like smoking I tried to get rid of the urge and told myself it was all in the head and it was more the mental battle rather than the physical. And a week turned into two, then three and here I am today almost six months smoke free. And the lungs feel great.
- Running for life
Months after I started my mindfulness session, I was reading, writing more frequently and had not smoked, it just occurred to me one afternoon early November – I am going to run the marathon. I had no idea where this thought came from but I just wanted to run. And so the very next morning I laced up my runners and took to the road. I was amazed how refreshing this was and given I had quit smoking for couple of months now I could really run so much better. It was soon two weeks into my running program and I was pleasantly surprised to see myself loving to wake up early every morning, lace up and run. I had actually started running for life and not idiomatically but literally. I just loved it. When I got injured two weeks later with a torn ligament and was bed ridden for the next two weeks I kept the flame burning and my desire to start running was immense. This led me to believe that I was going to run as long as I could.
Initially when I had this thought that I wanted to run for some reason deep down inside I just wanted it to a long distance run. And both running and reading about long distance running has brought about new insight about life as a whole. It is amazing how life and long distance running (marathon) co-relate to one another. I want to write more about the co-relation but not just yet, not until I have got a taste of running an actual marathon.
- Keeping the feet firmly on the ground
This by far is the lesson of the year- to keep the feet on the ground. When I started this year I was sinking slowly but surely. I was a train wreck and six feet under the ground from where I just could not see the light. But then everything changed for the better and right now I feel great about myself. And I know for a fact that with this amazing feel that I get at times it is easy to get carried away. So it becomes more important that put my feet on the ground. I am in love with this journey where it is so much about self-investment and I want to keep at it without getting carried away by the positives that comes my way. Or not beat myself in time of turmoil.
Finally, I believe now everything is a choice. It starts with multiple options but then one was to make a choice and stick to it.
(My 2015 has been a great learning curve and I can’t wait for the 2016. There’s so much to do, so many plans and but I understand that whatever the circumstance I am going to deal with it a lot better and enjoy it.)