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Can you shut up ?

Do you remember the last time you were peacefully idle? A time when all the voices inside your head died away, and you were able to simply be, nary a thought in your head and nary a fuck to give. When was the last time you truly relaxed?

After a long day at work, I always like to come home, take a quick shower, and cook my own dinner. It’s one of the recent interests I’ve picked up that I’ve found to be really satisfying.

But more often than not, my thoughts drift away. As I write this piece about relaxing, I am already googling on the side about ideas for my next trip, queueing up my next song, and refreshing my inbox to see if my customer has replied to my mail. Okay, maybe I didn’t do the last one, but I wanted to.

For people who always want to live the moment, we are often caught up in things that are elsewhere. We think of our jobs when we are home, we think of home when we are at work. And we think of the next day’s work as we go to sleep. We either try to catch up as our mind runs towards the future, or we drift away as it thinks about the past.

Are we ever able to think about now? Or perhaps, not think at all?

Thinking of nothing

If you’ve ever attended a meditation camp, the first thing they have you do is to sit idle and observe your breathing. The point of this exercise is to stop your thoughts from wandering.

Regretfully, it is the step at which I fail every time and give up. Because all it takes for the mind to wander is a simple thought. And sometimes it even becomes a challenge. Like if I ask you not to think about dolphins, the first thing you’re going to think about, is inevitably dolphins.

Lately, the only few instances where I was able to do it, were times when I wasn’t particularly trying to silence my thoughts. They just happened.

Photo courtesy: Darshanaa R

A couple of years back, when I was running around with too much in my head, I happened to visit an old church in the middle of the town. I don’t exactly remember why I wanted to do that. Perhaps it was my love for architecture, and photography. But within a couple of minutes of me stepping inside, a waft of fresh air carrying with it a subtle smell of a freshly opened bottle of talcum took me over with a sense of calm that I hadn’t been actively searching for, but desperately needed nonetheless.

I took a seat in the chairs at the far end of the aisle and observed the architectural beauty of the building and the way the golden evening light, with a few specks dust carried from the topmost window of the interior, framed the silhouette of the people who were praying inside the church. I sat there in silence, away from all my problems. Away from all the people. Away from the people who were in a rush to get to their destinations. I could simply be. I was able to stop running for a few minutes.

The only other time I was able to feel something similar was quite recently-a few months back when I visited my hometown after a very long gap.

I walked to the temple my mom and I used to frequent. I spent a considerable amount of time just sitting there, observing the people with their saggy old baskets that were refreshed every evening with freshly bought flowers, and that mini bottle of ghee, to be served as offerings to the idols. Even the area milkman offered his share of milk every day before he set off on his route. It would never occur to him that what he was offering to the Gods everyday could’ve easily been sold to someone else.

I don’t know how both of the instances had to do with places of worship. Maybe there is something to spirituality. Maybe the silence that I was able to attain, was, in fact, what prayer and the feeling of attaining God are? I can see myself jumping to conclusions already, so I digress.

Fearless about missing out (FAMO)

I spent the rest of my time visiting all the places I made wonderful memories at — the streets where I played hide-and-seek with my friends, before the daily humdrum of smartphones took over, the roads that I had once walked without feeling the need to run to get where I wanted to. I bathed in the same river I used to cross with my dad, trying to get over my fear of drowning.

Thinking about times like that remind you that we are not all in a race. And it doesn’t matter what the latest fad is, and whether or not you’re in the loop. The fear of missing out is just a useless byproduct of this generation that runs behind being viral.

There’s money to be made, if one could bottle this feeling of stepping away from our thoughts and letting our minds truly rest.

If only it were that easy.