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August 10, 2005

Man proposes, re-proposes, re-re-proposes. God yawns.

The check-ins touched upon various points�

I shared an insight I had during the 10 day vipassana course I took recently. I found out (experientially) that mindfulness (the art of being in the moment) is very difficult to achieve by reminding oneself to be mindful or even requesting others to remind us every time we display lack of awareness. Such reminders create frustration and anger more than they help refocus the mind. Instead, I found that practicing meditation (that requires one to equanimously observe bodily sensations and thoughts without reacting to them) could create a habit of mindfulness so that it manifests in our daily life effortlessly without any need for reminders.

Sreekanth said that because much of his identity comes from the work he does, whenever work is not challenging and/or exciting, he feels bored and indifferent towards life in general.

Rishi talked about the book Tipping Point in which Malcolm Gladwell shows how sometimes small, seemingly unrelated actions could tip the balance of reality to a great extent and create a disproportional impact. The rapid spreading of some brand names and epidemics and the drastic reduction of crime rates in New York were given as examples.

Soujanya then talked about the Career Vs Family struggle that many young women are facing today. She said that while nature seems to have set a rigid plan for a woman, most women today have career plans that are necessarily in conflict with nature. What is a woman to do, go with her nature and ignore career, or go with the career and ignore nature? It hurts both ways � was her feeling.

Some suggestions that came up on how a woman could have a career and a family were:

- A great support system, either from parents and/or from relatives and friends could help a woman balance her career and family better
- If the husband is as committed to his wife as he is committed to his career, then he could enable her to have a career by sharing the family responsibilities equally
- The maturity of a woman in dealing with people at work and home can make a big difference to whether she is capable of handling both

Mindfullness, identity, tipping point, career vs family � the theme that I see running across all of these is �the desire we have for desires and how it forces us to under perform'.

We want to be mindful, we want our narrowly conceived identity to satisfy all our needs, we want reality to tip in our balance, we want a great career and a great family� regardless of what we want, our relentless attachment to making our want happen drastically reduces our capacity to fully do our part of the job. Anything that seems to be a threat or a barrier takes away our attention and we start planning, maneuvering, analyzing and essentially attacking the problem. We want the problem to go away.

Desire in itself may not be bad if we consider it as a road sign that gives some direction to life. But if we start looking at every other vehicle on the road as a potential accident, our grip on the steering wheel is likely to be unnecessarily tight, our pressure on the accelerator and brake would be unnecessarily hard� increased heart beat, sweating and swearing are all unnecessary. We might still miss an exit or two, we might get caught in a traffic jam, we might be pulled by a cop� we might even reach a slightly different destination. Knowing that all of these and more could happen, it makes sense to work with the road, the traffic, the weather and enjoy the ride. While the destination may not be within our control, enjoying the ride is. Whether the cause that hinders us from getting to our destination is natural or artificial makes the same difference. Perhaps then, we would truly make every effort from our side (and nothing more) to reach the destination precisely because we are not worried about getting there.

It is funny that most of us seem to have a clear view of our future failures and have no clue about our future success.

Make a list of a few barriers you have to fulfill one of your dearest desires, and ask yourself how much of your energy do they take away (in worrying, planning etc). What if you do whatever you can about the barriers (of course in addition to doing everything else that have no barriers) everyday and not worry about whatever you cannot?

Posted by Ragu at August 10, 2005 11:19 AM

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