Book Reviews

Mindless.. Mindset.. Mindful


The first book I have picked up to read in 2014 is “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung. I have gained weight in Bangalore and it has been bothering me since it took a lot of effort to lose the weight in the first place. For good health its important to maintain “a weight” not keep yo-yoing. My fitness levels are still good – am able to cycle, walk up the stairs, walk long distances, but the weight seems to have come on and impacted my right knee, which is paining. Many things have changed for me in Bangalore – food is different, a lot more coconut in it, pollution levels, longer exposure to noise compared to Gurgaon and just not being able to go out and cycle more frequently as the traffic is tough to navigate and its there at all times. I started to look at some of the psychological reasons that may have caused the weight gain and while trawling the kindle store came upon this book. Its an amazing book that explains the process of weight gain and the mindlessness attached to our eating habits that facilitate weight gain !!

Not just eating, we are mindless in most of our activities – I was reading Dan Ariely’s post on how to keep up New Year resolutions and the way he starts the blog is interesting – describing a mindless day in any average person’s life. That got me thinking about the three states associated with the mind – mindless, mindset and mindful.

Mindless : When we go about doing things without pausing to think of the consequences or results, its being mindless. Just watch yourself in a given day, we brush our teeth and are thinking of the presentation at work, we drink tea and think of yesterday’s comment that our friend made, we eat breakfast with the paper in our hand and read the rubbish there, run to our cab or car and listen to the radio or even worse our first call on the way to work. I also swear at other drivers when they swerve onto my lane and do it by rote almost everyday. At work, we think about our son’s school project or somebody else’s promotion and snap at our spouse when they call and go from meeting to meeting, presentation to presentation and never once ask where we are headed or where our firm is headed. Mindless behaviour. Even in the retreats, offsites that we go on, we are constantly answering BBMs, Tweets, Facebook posts, and Emails, not being there. Mindless.

Mindset : The dictionary defines mindset as “A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations”. There are many other descriptions as well – filters, fundamental attribution error, lens, paradigm, perception, perspective etc.. they all in some way describe a mindset. Late Stephen R. Covey brought the word paradigm onto everyone’s lips with his path breaking book “Seven Habits of highly effective people” and made paradigm shifting popular. We only talk about it – paradigm shift is a mindset shift, extremely difficult and needs major impetus. We all know that just 2% reality reaches us as 98% is filtered out due to our unique filters – again, our mindset. We say casually, “he needs to change his mindset” as though its easy and we do it all the time 🙂 Its a nice word, we could read it as a mind that is set, unmoving from its position. Mind is the storehouse of our thoughts so a mindset is a set of thoughts that are unmoving.

Mindful : Buddha called it out first by saying we are all sleeping !! many people felt bad and tried saying he is wrong, that we are awake, we eat, we wake up, we walk, talk, play so we aren’t asleep … but all this is done on autopilot and thats what Buddha meant when he said we are all asleep. The other word that both Buddha and Osho used frequently is “awareness”. Are you aware of what you do, say, eat, drink? Are you being mindful?

Here’s an excerpt from Osho’s book, Yoga: The Path to Liberation, Talk #2

“This is the beauty of awareness: That which is right is enhanced through it. That which is wrong is destroyed through it. Awareness functions as life energy to good and as death energy to bad. Awareness functions as a blessing to good and as a curse to bad.
Being Mindful is being aware of what we are doing, saying, eating, writing and so on.
So don’t be mindless, and don’t have a mindset, but be mindful. Live mindfully, full of awareness.

 

 

 

 

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